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When asked if Cristiano Ronaldo would play in Portugal’s 2022 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal matchup against Morocco, Fernando Santos replies.

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos refused to explicitly state that Cristiano Ronaldo would start their 2022 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal against Morocco.

A Selecao will take on the African side on Saturday, December 10, in their first World Cup last-eight clash since 2006. Victory in that clash will see them take on either France or England in the semifinals.

Santos’ team secured their place in the last eight after a 6-1 thrashing of Switzerland on Tuesday (December 6). The experienced coach notably chose to bench Cristiano Ronaldo, who started all three of Portugal’s group-stage matches. Ronaldo came off the bench in the 73rd minute, replacing Joao Felix.

With the team performing admirably without their captain in the XI, many believe Ronaldo could be on the bench against Morocco as well. When questioned if the five-time Ballon d’Or winner would start Portugal’s FIFA World Cup quarterfinal, Santos said (as quoted by the Independent):

“Ronaldo will definitely (be involved), all the players on the bench can be used, if they are not in the starting line-up they can play later.

“It is important to look at the example of this player’s history, he is one of the best players in the world at playing professionally, being captain – all we have to do is think about this team collectively.”

Goncalo Ramos, who replaced Ronaldo in Portugal’s, netted the first hat-trick of this year’s FIFA World Cup in the match against Switzerland. Veteran defender Pepe, left-back Raphael Guerreiro and rising star Rafael Leao also got on the scoresheet for A Selecao. Manuel Akanji scored the Swiss side’s only goal of the night.

Not only did Fernando Santos bench Cristiano Ronaldo, but also decided to replace him with 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos who had yet to make his World Cup debut.

A bold managerial decision that paid off for Portugal 👏

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner when Portugal and Morocco clashed at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Portugal and Morocco have clashed only twice so far, with both teams picking up a win apiece. Both of their clashes have notably come at different editions of the FIFA World Cup.

Their first meeting was in the group stages of the 1986 World Cup, which Morocco won 3-1. They went up against each other once again in the group stages of the 2018 edition. This time, Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal of the game in the fourth minute to hand A Selecao a close victory.

Morocco’s last 10 games against European teams they have five wins, three draws and one defeat – against Portugal during WC 2018.

Portugal finished second in their group that year to qualify for the Round of 16, while Morocco only managed one point to finish last.

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