Portugal united! Cristiano Ronaldo is all smiles in training as he laughs and jokes with teammates ahead of the World Cup quarter-final against Morocco…
Cristiano Ronaldo is pictured smiling broadly during training in Portugal ahead of Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against Morocco.
He has consistently made negative headlines throughout the tournament, with revelations that the veteran is causing friction in team camp and high-profile forward denying reports that he wanted to leave the competition after being ousted.
But former Manchester United star Ronaldo, 37, was all smiles on Friday, laughing and joking with his teammates as they prepared for the weekend’s knockout game.
High-profile striker Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) has been pictured smiling during training in Portugal
The veteran, 37, denied reports he was threatening to quit the World Cup after being dropped
But a seemingly relaxed Ronaldo laughed and joked with teammates (pictured) ahead of Saturday’s semi-final against Africa’s Morocco, who beat Spain in the last 16
After starting the first three group stage matches and scoring just once – a penalty he ducked to win against Ghana – he was eventually dropped by manager Fernando Santos for Goncalo Ramos, who scored a hat-trick in the 6- 1 last-16 win against Switzerland.
In the aftermath, Ronaldo grumbled and walked off on his own, with a whopping 93.6 per cent of Portuguese fans voting for the attacker on the bench and for Ramos to start up front against Morocco instead.
And according to reports, the free agent wanted to pack his bags and walk away after tense talks with Santos – though the Portuguese Football Federation insisted the captain is still “committed” to the cause.
Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured in training on Thursday) furiously denied wanting to leave the squad after being dropped, saying Portugal are ‘too strong to be broken by outside forces’
Ronaldo and manager Fernando Santos (left) have endured a strained relationship in Qatar and reportedly engaged in heated and heated talks with the ex-Man United star threatening to fly home
In response, Ronaldo tweeted: “A group too close to be broken by outside forces. A nation too courageous to be frightened by any adversary. A team in the true sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end! Believe with us! Good luck, Portugal!’
But the Portuguese newspaper that first broke the story stuck to their sources, insisting Ronaldo threatened to walk away and revealed more details of his “tough, tense, heated” talks with Santos.
The 68-year-old boss eventually called on people to ‘leave Ronaldo alone’, saying the player did not ask to leave the team after being benched – but did admit he was not happy during the ‘normal conversation’.
Ronaldo scored just once in Qatar and has been plagued by numerous off-field problems
Meanwhile, it was revealed on Friday that he has caused more friction in the camp, with teammates reportedly questioning why his personal manager – who has “excessive clout” – is part of their entourage.
Former international teammate Jose Fonte added that Portugal “plays more like a team” without him, while former United coach Rene Meulensteen admitted to being glad he is not Portugal’s manager and praised Santos for dropping Ronaldo.
Portugal will play the African side on Saturday afternoon, with a spot in the last four of the Qatar tournament up for grabs. If they are victorious, they will face the winners of the England v France game later that evening.