Cristiano Ronaldo Fernando Santos Alexander Djiku Bruno Fernandes Bernardo Silva Daniel Amartey Manchester Qatar Portugal city Santos Ghana Boxing sprint Cristiano Ronaldo Fernando Santos Alexander Djiku Bruno Fernandes Bernardo Silva Daniel Amartey Manchester Qatar Portugal city Santos Ghana

Joao Felix adds spark to offer Portugal solution to Cristiano Ronaldo dilemma

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independent.co.uk

After the scandal and a furore, Cristiano Ronaldo is back on the pitch, gracing football’s biggest stage at the World Cup in what remains an awkward, yet compelling Portugal side.It remains his team, but Joao Felix epitomises the immense talent available elsewhere for Fernando Santos, who has seldom dared to imagine and pursue the Selecao’s exciting potential.

Here, in a quite fortunate opening group win in Qatar, Portugal displayed a hint of what they can become and the familiar frustration attached to Ronaldo’s presence in the side.However, tasked with breaking down a wall of five Ghana defenders, including centre-backs Daniel Amartey, Alexander Djiku and Mohammed Salisu, there was a new and refreshing attempt to squeeze a little more out of this group while still demanding relatively little out of Ronaldo.There was perhaps a hint of desperation about the system and the players selected; Santos might have been lured into it with a desire to cram in as many star names as possible.

While Rafa Leao’s star is not quite bright enough yet to command a place in the line-up, although his decisive impact here brings the AC Milan star closer to an inevitable change there.Ronaldo might well be a limited superstar, but Portugal’s modified diamond here also allowed Santos to capitalise on some of his other stars currently thriving at the forefront of modern European football.Felix was drifting into deeper pockets, with Otavio’s desire to eat up the ground vacated.

While Joao Cancelo, struggling to arrest a slight slump in form with Manchester City, gleefully tucked inside with Bruno Fernandes dovetailing nicely.If Ruben Neves was the obvious pivot, Santos allowed Bernardo Silva to roam, eager to knit play together.

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