Sunday, May 26, 2024

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return can’t save Portugal from defeat without Bruno Fernandes, 11-game win-streak ends

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It was a case of ‘No Bruno, no party’ for Portugal last night as their international winning streak came to a crashing halt.

After a thumping 5-2 win against Victor Lindelof‘s Sweden, Portugal decided to give Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes a rare rest.

Bruno Fernandes was back in Manchester by the weekend, getting a much-needed break, excused from Portugal’s friendly match with Slovenia.

Portugal slumped to a 2-0 loss. It was their first defeat under manager Roberto Martinez, and ended a remarkable 11-game winning streak.

Photo by Ales Beno/Anadolu via Getty Images

Fernandes out, Ronaldo in

Over the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, it became very evident that Portugal was Bruno Fernandes’ team, rather than Cristiano Ronaldo’s.

Fernandes was rated as the best player in the whole of the qualifiers, with six goals and seven assists. He scored and assisted another in their win over Sweden.

Portugal felt they could do without Fernandes against Slovenia, partly because they had Cristiano Ronaldo joining the squad, after he had missed the Sweden game through injury.

But it was not the same. Ronaldo had a frustrated night, touching the ball fewer times than any outfield player to feature for 90 minutes.

He attempted only one shot at goal, and really missed having a creator of Fernandes’ ability in the side.

While the pair did not really click for Manchester United going a full 12 months without combining for a goal between November 2021 and 2022, they have linked up well for Portugal.

Last night underlined Fernandes’ importance to the Portugal national team, their defeat was no coincidence at all.

How Diogo Dalot fared

One Manchester United player did feature, with Diogo Dalot starting for Portugal in their 2-0 loss.

Dalot was one of Portugal’s better players on the night, making 94 touches, winning four duels, and blocking one shot.

The right-back probably could have done with a rest too, he has played non-stop for Manchester United this season, while his defensive teammates have been hit by injuries.

He is now heading back to Manchester to rejoin Fernandes as the team gears up for the Premier League match at Brentford on Saturday night.

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