Brought in to bring the continental showpiece home to Turin, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus move risks being a failure without European success to show for it.
Failing to put a header on target in injury time despite straining every neck muscle that he possibly could to reach the delivery, Cristiano Ronaldo’s late effort off-target highlighted just how fine the margins between success and failure are in the game.
Had the Portugese converted, the Italians would have needed only a 1-0 victory at home to go through to the next round. Instead, Allegri’s men are faced with the unenviable task of scoring three against Europe most notoriously battle-hardened team, not to mention keeping a clean sheet at the other end.
As for the Portugal captain’s time at Turin however, the margins aren’t so wafer thin. There is only one thing he needs to do to ensure his time at the Old Lady is an unqualified success.
Having been brought to Italy in a deal worth a reported 340 million over four years, the memo is rather simple – bring home the UEFA Champions League. It’s putting the plan into action that seems to be the real problem for Juventus though, who are now reeling on the back of a 2-0 defeat against Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
For a team that has been to two finals in the last four seasons, Juventus looked a shadow of their usual European self, rarely managing to string together coherent attacks.
Not only that, the Italians looked clearly rattled by Atletico’s hands-on approach, failing to deal with the home side’s trademark physicality and it was only symbolic of their troubles that both goals were scored by two center-backs – two bullish, overtly-physical specimens who have now put them on the brink of elimination.
Simeone not thinking about Ronaldo
Ronaldo himself looked well-below his best, despite early flashes promising so much more. Indeed, the expectations were sky-high when looking at his past record against his former city rivals – having managed an impressive 21 goals in 30 appearances against them during his time in Madrid, which included a stunning hat-trick two years ago to knock them out in the semi-finals of the very competition they are threatening to eliminate him from.
My rivalry with Messi means nothing – Ronaldo
Albeit slightly unfair, for all his exploits in the league, it’s no secret that his time at the club will be judged on the one sole parameter of continental glory.
What is also true is that despite pundits and former players alike labelling the Portugese’s signing as the missing piece in Juventus’s jigsaw for Champions League success, his scoring form has been fairly underwhelming in the competition – scoring just one goal so far for his new team in his favorite tournament.
It’s even more fascinating how in spite of Ronaldo’s presence burdening Juve with the added pressure to win at all costs in Europe, the only thing going for them at this moment is this very presence, which gives them a fighting chance in the second leg despite Atletico’s two goal cushion.
If there’s anyone who can drag a team back from the depths of despair, it’s the Portugese and despite his annoyance at his side’s performance, he will certainly be relishing the chance to play superhero once again.
‘Ronaldo gives Juve advantage’ – Allegri
Despite being faced with a seemingly insurmountable mountain, Ronaldo’s penchant for the limelight, the spectacular and above all his desire to turn his move to Turin an unarguable success might be enough to maybe, just maybe cause a miracle.