Ronaldo Draws Focus, But Fernandes Is Portugal's World Cup Heartbeat
Doha, Dec 4 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 4th Dec, 2022 ) :Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow looms large over Portugal at the World Cup, but away from the flash of camera phones and rolling headlines, Bruno Fernandes has taken the reins.
However in Qatar playmaker, Fernandes is emerging as the team's true creative leader, sealing qualification for the last 16 with a game to spare.
Still, supporters swooned over veteran striker Ronaldo -- save some Korea fans who instead chanted for "Messi" -- even as the all-time record international goalscorer floundered up front.
Instead it is Fernandes, no longer a club team-mate of Ronaldo after his dramatic departure by mutual consent ahead of the World Cup, who has been the beating heart of the side this year.
Then on the pitch he was a quiet mastermind, providing two assists in the 3-2 win, even as Ronaldo basked in the limelight after winning a soft penalty and dispatching it to open the scoring.
It's an age where most players would have retired by, but Ronaldo chugs on, having pledged to play until 40, at least.
So that shadow stretches further, but under it, Portugal have a lot of younger, dynamic talent, itching for a chance to break through.
Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva is another underrated, smooth presence but at the 2022 World Cup it is Fernandes who has taken on the role of floor manager, the man running the show at the tip of the midfield.
Even when Ronaldo is not involved, he still creeps in, appearing to claim a goal against Uruguay which was ultimately given to Fernandes.
Fernandes is an established star, but still young enough to take on the role of creator-in-chief, and as a figurehead is a different prospect to Ronaldo -- where all roads end, the man who applies the finishing touch.
Even on that front, Fernandes is ahead in 2022, with seven goals for his country in 11 games, to Ronaldo's three in 10.
"I celebrated as if it had been Cristiano's goal," he explained.
"It seemed to me that he had touched the ball. My aim was to cross the ball for him. We are happy with the victory regardless of who scored." Fernandes has often been diplomatic when speaking to the media, even when repeatedly questioned about Ronaldo.
"It was a dream to play with him," he said, of their days together at Manchester United. "But nothing lasts."Wise, measured responses, issued like the kind of perfectly weighted passes Fernandes aims to deliver Ronaldo and co as Portugal set their sights on a first World Cup trophy.