With an outstanding 6:1 against Switzerland, Portugal set an exclamation mark in the round of 16 of the World Cup. There is little of this in the stadium itself. The more than 80,000 spectators didn't come because of the game, they just want to see one thing: Cristiano Ronaldo. He's sitting on the bench. A problem.
If you wanted to know what's wrong with football, you only had to come to the glittering gold Lusail Iconic Stadium in Doha on Tuesday. The World Cup Round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland ended 6-1 (2-0). It was an extraordinary duel with magnificent goals in front of an overwhelming crowd of 83,720 spectators. 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos scored three goals in his first start for his country, Joao Felix shone and the Confederates crumbled to dust. It was a World Cup night for the history books.
In the 60th minute, a murmur went through the stadium, then a group started singing. "We want Ronaldo. We want Ronaldo", we want Ronaldo, we want Ronaldo. And that was the problem with this game. 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't on the pitch, so what happened there didn't really matter. Because the spectators, if they belonged to the small groups of Swiss or Portuguese, came to the Lusail Iconic Stadium exclusively for the five-time world footballer. The "We want Ronaldo" calls soon became "Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldo" chants.
He had just appeared in the warm-up zone next to the bench, had a chat with one of the assistant coaches and then sat down on the bench again. "Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldo," they shouted after Goncalo Ramos chipped the ball over the pitiful Swiss keeper Yann Sommer after a fantastic pass from Joao Felix to make it 5-1. And they couldn't be held back when he, the saint, Cristiano Ronaldo, suddenly appeared on the sidelines in his jersey. Cheers roar through the stadium. Ronaldo waited a little longer.
What has been forgotten is that he was once a really good footballer and not the clown he was now, letting 39-year-old Pepe put the armband on his head to the thunderous applause of the crowd. The appearance of Goncalo Ramos, who left the pitch almost unnoticed and yet deserved all the applause, had already been forgotten. The stadium almost collapsed when Ronaldo made his first contact with the ball. The world had never seen anything like it.
There were three teams that night. Portugal, Switzerland and of course Cristiano Ronaldo. The sea of photographers parted as soon as the national anthem was played. A large part stopped on the bench, stopped at the 33rd country at this World Cup - on CR7. He made a long face. Although he has nothing more to report in terms of sport, he always wants to play because nobody in his world will ever reach his level. He's the perfect star for this world cup of megalomania, for the absurd entertainment machine called FIFA and its boss Gianni Infantino. This personality cult no longer has anything to do with football.
Until the round of 16, Portugal was only concerned with the crisis state Cristiano Ronaldo. The cult worship of the five-time world footballer took on absurd features. Almost every third visitor to the World Cup in Doha wore and still has the "lettering" Ronaldo on the back. Alongside Lionel Messi, he raised this world tournament to one in which, for the first time, the player brands are more important than the actual countries. Argentina today, Portugal tomorrow. The new football that is presented to the world public these days.
In the alleys of the Souq Waqif and on the glittering gold Lusail Boulevards next to the final stadium, the gold glittering Lusail Iconic Stadium, the fans quickly jumped in with a CR7 cheer. In the subway, they shouted "Siuuu" and videophoned their songs home.
And on the field met Ronaldo. At least in the 3:2 against Ghana. And since only from the penalty spot. Because he first dug a snack out of his trousers during the game and then turned the journalists in the mixed zone into little children who did everything for a selfie with CR7. In the next game against Uruguay, he wanted to steal a goal from team-mate Bruno Fernandes to finally draw level with Eusebio. He has nine goals at World Cups, Ronaldo eight.
Then there was a scandal against South Korea when he complained about his substitution. Coach Fernando Santos was fed up and put him on the bench. The ultimate punishment for Ronaldo's ego. He had recently proven that at Manchester United. After a completely insane interview in which he compared himself to a strawberry you want to bite into, the club threw him out. Since then he has been flirting with a 200 million euro offer from Saudi Arabia.
And so Ronaldo roared across the field in the glittering gold Lusail Iconic Stadium, the spectators almost fainted at the sight of him and therefore did not see how a new star was rising in the Portuguese football sky with the outstanding Goncalo Ramos. Portugal proved that night that they no longer need their old heroes. And football doesn't need Cristiano Ronaldo anymore either. He stands for everything that's broken in football.