Ronaldo trains with Martinez’s Portugal squad
Roberto Martinez’s new Portugal squad will include Cristiano Ronaldo, who has already begun training ahead of the UEFA European Championship Qualifying.
Roberto Martinez chose Cristiano Ronaldo for his first Portugal squad since taking over for Fernando Santos. Ronaldo has already arrived in Lisbon to train with the team ahead of the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying match against Liechtenstein on Thursday.
A new era for the Portugal squad
During the nine years that Santos was in charge of the Portugal team, he coached 109 games, won the 2016 European Championship, the 2019 inaugural UEFA Nations League, and the first and second honors at senior level in Portugal’s history. In the 2022 World Cup, Santos took the team all the way to the quarterfinals, where they lost to Morocco. He was fired just after and Martinez took over.
In the World Cup knockout phase, including that last game, Santos left Ronaldo out of the starting lineup. Now that he’s been included on Martinez’s squad, how will he be used? He could be playing him off the bench as needed, as Santos did, or he could see him with a more significant role in the starting lineup.
Ronaldo moved to the Saudi Arabian team Al-Nassr at the age of 38, which typically would mean the start of the end of a soccer career. For the Saudi Pro League, Ronaldo is the sixth top goalscorer with nine goals in eight games, half the total appearances of the players above him on that list. He scored a free kick for Al-Nassr on Saturday, when they won 2-1 against Abha.
When asked about the decision to include Ronaldo and his future on the team, Martinez said, “The list of 26 players from the World Cup is my starting point and Cristiano is a player on that list. He has been with the national team for 19 years and he deserves the respect of being able to sit down and talk. From there it is to create, in 10 weeks, the best team for our matches, for the qualification for the European Championship.”
Portugal plays Liechtenstein this Thursday, March 24 to kick off the European Qualifiers, followed by Luxembourg on Sunday, March 26.