DOHA, Qatar — After the ultimate whistle, after Morocco had upset Portugal, 1-0, on Saturday to grow to be the primary African country in World Cup history to achieve the semifinals, Cristiano Ronaldo put his head down and began the long walk to the tunnel at Al Thumama Stadium.
Two Moroccan players got here over to say goodbye and Ronaldo, the Portuguese superstar within the twilight of his profession, briefly obliged but barely broke his stride. As Morocco and its fans celebrated with glee and Portugal’s players stood around in shock, Ronaldo, 37, exited what he has said could well be his final World Cup.
Within the tunnel, television cameras showed Ronaldo — one of the decorated players to never have won a World Cup and who had been reduced to a substitute player of late — wiping tears from his eyes. If this was indeed it for one in all the best players of all time, it led to disappointment for him and a team that some believed could have made a deeper run within the tournament.
“If we take two those who were probably the most upset concerning the game, perhaps it was Cristiano Ronaldo and myself,” Portugal Coach Fernando Santos said through an interpreter.
This World Cup was purported to be a final hurrah on this stage for veteran stars like Ronaldo, Lionel Messi of Argentina and Luka Modric of Croatia. But just one team can win the title, and Messi and Modric remain essential contributors on their teams, still alive within the tournament. But recently Ronaldo, the team’s captain, ended up watching from the sidelines greater than he played.
A Temporary Guide to the 2022 World Cup
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What’s the World Cup? The quadrennial event pits one of the best national soccer teams against one another for the title of world champion. Here’s a primer to the 2022 men’s tournament:
Where is it being held? This 12 months’s host is Qatar, which in 2010 beat the USA and Japan to win the fitting to carry the tournament. Whether that was an honest competition stays in dispute.
When is it? The tournament opened on Nov. 20, when Qatar played Ecuador. Over the 2 weeks that follow, 4 games will probably be played on most days. The tournament ends with the ultimate on Dec. 18.
Is a winter World Cup normal? No. The World Cup normally takes place in July. But in 2015, FIFA concluded that the summer temperatures in Qatar may need unpleasant consequences and agreed to maneuver the tournament to the relatively bearable months of November and December.
What number of teams are competing? Thirty-two. Qatar qualified routinely because the host, and after years of matches, the opposite 31 teams earned the fitting to come back and play. Meet the teams here.
How does the tournament work? The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of 4. Within the opening stage, each team plays all the opposite teams in its group once. The highest two finishers in each group advance to the round of 16. After that, the World Cup is a straight knockout tournament.
How can I watch the World Cup within the U.S.? The tournament will probably be broadcast on Fox and FS1 in English, and on Telemundo in Spanish. You may livestream it on Peacock, or on streaming services that carry Fox and FS1. Here’s how you can watch every match.
When will the games happen? Qatar is three hours ahead of London, eight hours ahead of Latest York and 11 hours ahead of Los Angeles. Which means there will probably be predawn kickoffs on the East Coast of the USA for some games, and midafternoon starts for 10 p.m. games in Qatar.
Got more questions? We’ve got more answers here.
Benched in back to back knockout stage games by Santos, Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, performed little just like the dazzling player who had scored 118 times in 196 profession appearances for his national team. With a penalty against Ghana within the group stage, Ronaldo became the primary male player in history to attain at five World Cups.
But that goal was Ronaldo’s just one on this tournament and maybe the ultimate one in all his World Cup profession. In all, he has scored eight goals in 22 World Cup games, the fifth most World Cup appearances of all time. His best finish within the World Cup was in his first, in 2006, when he was 21 and Portugal finished fourth.
This World Cup has been much tougher for Ronaldo. While in Qatar, he parted ways “by mutual agreement” together with his club team, Manchester United, per week after he criticized management in an interview and charged the club with betraying him.
Through the first two games of the World Cup group stage, Ronaldo began and was removed late for a substitute. But during a 2-1 loss to South Korea in Portugal’s third and final group-stage game, Santos replaced Ronaldo much sooner, within the sixty fifth minute. Ronaldo didn’t take this well, responding by raising a finger to his lips, as if gesturing for quiet.
In the following game, a round of 16 matchup with Switzerland, Santos benched Ronaldo and explained it was because he was frustrated together with his player’s attitude within the previous game. Santos later said that Ronaldo was not pleased when told of his benching but that he had never threatened to depart the team.
It didn’t help Ronaldo’s cause that his alternative against Switzerland, 21-year old Gonçalo Ramos, dazzled with a hat trick and led Portugal to a 6-1 win. So against Morocco, Santos stuck with what worked and had Ronaldo on the bench again while Ramos began.
After Saturday’s loss, Santos said he had no regrets. He continued, “This was a team that played thoroughly against Switzerland. Cristiano is a fantastic player and he got here in once we thought it was crucial.”
Against Morocco’s defense, Ramos didn’t wow again and was replaced by Rafael Leão within the 69th minute. Ronaldo entered the quarterfinal game within the 51st minute and tried to contribute with runs or passes or shots — Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, often called Bono, stopped one in the primary minute of stoppage time — but he mostly looked like an aging player against a stout defense.
“I don’t think that what happened to Cristiano Ronaldo and all of the criticism that he faced had any impact on the match today,” said Santos, who faulted the team’s many missed opportunities. “Now we have at all times been a team that may be very united.”
When asked if this was Ronaldo’s final game for Portugal, defender Pepe, 39, a longtime teammate, said that “now shouldn’t be the time” to debate this. (Ronaldo has said he planned to play at the least on the 2024 European Championship before retiring from the national team.)
Pepe continued, “It’s a very important moment for us. It’s essential to speak about Portugal and we’re sad about not winning and never making our fans pleased. Now we have to have a look at what we did well and did poorly.”