Portugal head coach Fernando Santos insists not all of his decisions revolve around Cristiano Ronaldo, despite setting his team up to get the most out of their captain.
The 4-3-3 has been the typical formation for Portugal in recent years, but Santos has recently moved to a line-up with two central attackers.
For all three Euro 2016 group games – none of which the Iberian nation managed to win – Ronaldo started alongside Nani at centre-forward in a 4-4-2.
The Real Madrid attacker finally came to life with a double in the 3-3 draw against Hungary after an uninspiring display in the match with Iceland and another poor showing against Austria, a match which saw him miss a penalty.
Asked if his decision to change systems was because it suits Ronaldo, Santos told L’Equipe: “It is, but not just for this. Not everything revolves around Cristiano Ronaldo, even if he is important for our team.
“Cristiano is not a winger or a striker. That’s why, in the quest for the balance that we lacked, in my opinion we can find a better compromise in a 4-4-2.
“If we put Cristiano as a striker [in a 4-3-3], it will take away some of his potential, it will reduce his qualities. This is not imaginable.
“But if he is placed on the left, you are exposed to defensive problems.
“So Cristiano is better when in a position where he can attack the defence and the goal. This is one of his characteristics, he needs space and freedom.”
Portugal qualified for the last 16 as one of the best third-placed teams and will meet Croatia in Lens on Saturday.
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