Cristiano Ronaldo will enter his fifth World Cup with a Portugal squad filled with talented players but that will be missing some national team regulars.
Ronaldo will team up with Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and João Félix, but among those not included in the list of 26 players selected by coach Fernando Santos on Thursday were José Fonte, Gonçalo Guedes, Renato Sanches and João Moutinho, the player with the second-most appearances with the national team behind Ronaldo.
Also not going to Qatar is Liverpool’s Diogo Jota because of an injury.
“I made these choices and I take the responsibility for them,” Santos said. “I’m the one who had to make these decisions. I can only take 26 players and these are the ones that I picked.”
Others who made the squad include João Cancelo, Rúben Dias and 39-year-old central defender Pepe. Defender António Silva, who is 19 and received his first call-up, also will be going to Qatar.
“Once again, ready to take Portugal’s name to the top,” Ronaldo said on Instagram. “These are the 26 names in the list of coach Fernando Santos, but we have all been summoned.”
The 37-year-old Ronaldo has been showing signs of a decline for the first time in his career but will still be the leader of a Portugal squad seeking its first World Cup title.
“Ronaldo played in the last four matches, let’s not talk about what was happening a month ago,” Santos said. “Right now he is playing. Every player that I have selected will come eager to win and to make Portugal a world champion, including Ronaldo.”
After finally earning a major international trophy at the 2016 European Championship, Portugal also won the inaugural edition of the Nations League at home in 2019. But it didn’t make it past the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup or at Euro 2020.
Portugal opens its World Cup campaign in Group H against Ghana on November 24, before facing Uruguay on November 28 and South Korea on December 2.