Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo was held on the bench during the clash with Lazio at the weekend. Andrea Pirlo has shown that this was a pre-planned step in preparation for the round of 16 against Porto
Cristiano Ronaldo was brought to Juventus with one goal – to win the Champions League. And all eyes are on the Portuguese to make sure that the heartbreak from last season doesn’t repeat itself.
Despite winning a ninth straight Serie A title for Juventus last season, coach Maurizio Sarri was turned over for one sacked further failures in Europe.
Italy’s best-equipped national team – Juve have won 36 Scudettos compared to AC Milan and 18 each from Inter Milan – has underperformed on the continent. Milan have seven European Cups, Inter have three, while Juventus have only topped Europe twice.
The club are desperate to win their first Champions League title in a quarter of a century, mainly because they have the undesirable statistics that the team with the most defeats in the European Cup final – the loss to Real Madrid in 2017, the last of seven lost decisions.
The letter was on the wall for Sarri last season after Juventus surprisingly from Olympique in the last 16 Lyonnais had been turned off. Current coach Andrea Pirlo is in a similar situation this time.
Last season Juventus lost the first leg away 1-0 before finally scoring away after a 2-1 win in Turin. This year Juventus lost another goal in the first leg against Porto last month. With Pirlo’s third team in Serie A, the young coach is under pressure.
Pirlo will likely have more time than Sarri as he has a higher status as a player in the club, but another early exit from the Champions League won’t work well. Pirlo knows exactly who to rely on to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Despite his advancing years, 36-year-old Ronaldo is still Juve’s talisman and with 20 goals this season is Serie A’s top scorer .
He has also scored 10 goals in 10 home games for Juve in the Champions League. Since joining the club before the 2018/19 season, only Lionel Messi (14) has scored more goals at home games in competition.
His value was clear when Pirlo gave Ronaldo a break at the weekend – which he usually does not welcomed – and the Juve boss revealed that he had to pre-arrange the decision before the game against Lazio.
« He came from eight or nine games in a row. We made an agreement during the week that was already planned « said Pirlo after the 3-1 win on Saturday against Sky Sport Italia.
» Cristiano is an added value, the boys did what they had to do without him tonight. «
Ronaldo did his various teams have dug out of holes several times in the past and will try again tonight to support his quest to win the Champions League with a third club.
Another coach who could use good news is Edin Terzić from Borussia Dortmund, who after se s defeat against fiery rivals Bayern Munich at the weekend has three away goals and a good Erling Haaland to its advantage. The German team with Sevilla lead 3-2.
But Sevilla – even after two defeats against Barcelona in the La Liga and the Copa del Rey, he has to get back on his feet before a humble 2-1 defeat against Elche on Saturday. – I hope that I can celebrate a comeback in today’s round of 16 against Dortmund.
« Every team has good and bad moments, but the team is absolutely lively and enthusiastic about this game, » said coach Julen Lopetegui at a press conference.
« We don’t listen to praise or criticism, we just focus on our goals. We play every three days and we have enough hope to achieve a top performance. If we do that, we have a chance. »
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