Move aside Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes is Portugal's new star
Bruno Fernandes has pushed Ronaldo to the sideline to become the key man for Portugal
Portugal have relied on Cristiano Ronaldo for over a decade to provide the goals and as his powers have waned, the team has required a new leader. Bruno Fernandes has stepped into the void that is opening up and it feels like a natural fit for the Manchester United midfielder.
His two goals and two assists in the World Cup victories over Ghana and Uruguay mean no one has had more goal involvements in the tournament than he does. That continues a prolific run of form in a Portugal shirt for the 28-year-old, five goals and three assists in his five appearances this season.
Bruno's patience pays off
At Manchester United, Fernandes was never able to shake off the suggestion he was not as effective after Cristiano Ronaldo joined him in the XI. His numbers dropped last season from the very high level he displayed the season before. He has been patient and virtually took the backseat last season to allow Ronaldo thrive at the top end of the pitch. Even at international level, he frequently struggled to find consistency with Ronaldo.
Fernandes deserves some credit for handling the Ronaldo situation well and more importantly, the goalscoring incident where Ronaldo claimed it was his touch that diverted Bruno's cross into the net.
His public response of smiling and answering questions in an honest manner was perfect for the team and should help to build team chemistry, as well as sway public opinion towards more positivity.
A year ago, Bruno Fernandes was not even a guaranteed starter but this time around, he is the main man for Portugal.