Cristiano Ronaldo must understand “time passes for everyone” and accept he may no longer be a regular pick for Portugal, former Brazil defender Junior has told Stats Perform.
Free agent Ronaldo has fallen out of favour at club and now international level, having been named among the substitutes for Portugal’s 6-1 win over Switzerland on Tuesday.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is also currently without a club after his contract with Manchester United, where he struggled for playing time, was terminated by mutual consent.
Ronaldo’s replacement, Benfica youngster Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick against Switzerland and is now set to keep his place for Saturday’s quarter-final tie with Morocco.
Junior, who earned 74 caps for Brazil and appeared at two World Cups, believes Portugal boss Fernando Santos deserves praise for his huge selection call.
“You need to have the courage to put Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench and the coach did,” Junior said.
“And there was the answer he got – it was Goncalo Ramos scoring three goals. It’s not just for the goals, but for his collective behaviour, I’m talking about the game as a whole.
“Time passes for everyone. Naturally, Cristiano will understand this in the best way so that he can continue to have the great respect that the group has for him.
“He is the main player of the Portuguese national team for the last 10 years. Just look at everything the Portuguese team did before and after. But time passes for everyone.”
Um grupo demasiado unido para ser quebrado por forças externas. Uma nação demasiado corajosa para se deixar atemorizar perante qualquer adversário. Uma equipa no verdadeiro sentido da palavra, que vai lutar pelo sonho até ao fim! Acreditem connosco! Força, Portugal! pic.twitter.com/gUeENXSB5F
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) December 8, 2022
Portugal are joined in the last eight of Qatar 2022 by next opponents Morocco, Argentina, the Netherlands, Brazil, Croatia, France and England.
Record five-time champions Brazil, who beat South Korea 4-1 in the last 16, remain the favourites of many to end their 20-year drought and lift the trophy once again.
Richarlison has arguably been Brazil’s best player so far in Qatar, the Tottenham man’s three goals placing him joint-second in the goalscoring charts behind Kylian Mbappe.
He has led the line in three of Brazil’s four games, the exception being the loss to Cameroon when Tite heavily rotated, and Junior has been impressed by the versatile forward.
“Richarlison rebuilt himself within the national team because he was a player who had much more visibility playing on the wings previously,” Junior said.
“When we see him playing the role of centre-forward, we see that he has recovered and is now in the starting line-up.
“On the sides of the pitch, it’d be difficult for him with Vinicius Junior, Raphinha and Neymar who also play there. So, he started to evolve exactly in that centre-forward position.
“The goal he scored with a volley in the first game is from a player who has great capacity and great resources when a situation like that presents itself.”
Tite has made full use of his squad, so much so that he has already used all 26 members of his group – the most ever fielded by a team at a single World Cup.
The Brazil head coach brought on third-choice goalkeeper Weverton against South Korea to complete the set, which Junior says offers an insight into Tite’s character.
“As happened in 2006 with Rogerio Ceni, Tite has done the same with Weverton. He’s made sure he not only travels to the World Cup but is also on the pitch.
“This type of attitude strengths the group a lot. It’s one of Tite’s most important qualities: valuing the whole squad, including the third keeper, who rarely plays at a World Cup.”