Ronaldo And Pirlo Facing Uncertain Futures After Champions League Exit To Porto - IReporteronline
Connect with us
                               

Sports

Ronaldo And Pirlo Facing Uncertain Futures After Champions League Exit To Porto

Published

on

Kindly Share This
The Bianconeri triumphed 3-2 on the night but bowed out at the last 16 stage on away goals after a dramatic encounter in Turin

Andrea Pirlo said Cristiano Ronaldo was “fired up” for Tuesday night’s Champions League showdown with Porto.

“These are his games,” the Juventus coach told reporters. This wasn’t his game, though – not even close. The Corriere dello Sport even went so far as to say that the Old Lady had been betrayed by Ronaldo.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, his poor performance is a mere footnote in Juve’s tale of Champions League woe, which stretches all the way back to 1996.

They’ve lost five finals in the interim. Now, they’ve been eliminated in the last 16 for the second consecutive season. In 2018-19, they were dumped out in the quarters by Ajax.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. Not with Ronaldo. He’s Mr. Champions League. With him on board, a team that reached two finals in three seasons between 2015 and 2017 looked poised to take that agonising final step. Instead, they’re further away from the trophy than when he arrived.

Despite losing 2-1 to Porto in the first leg, Juve had tried valiantly to avoid even thinking about another early exit.

“It’s our duty to go through to the next round,” Juve director and former midfielder Pavel Nedved had told Sky Sport Italia beforehand. Instead, Juve are out of Europe and, this time around, they won’t even have the consolation prize of a Scudetto.

The Serie A title already looks lost, for the first time in 10 years, with Inter currently 10 points ahead of the third-placed Bianconeri at the top of the table. Even a possible Coppa Italia win – Juve meet Atalanta in the final – isn’t going to cut it for Pirlo.

Indeed, a penny for Andrea Agnelli’s thoughts right now. The Juventus president didn’t sanction a €340 million (£292m/$404m) deal for Ronaldo to see his side knocked out of Europe by Ajax, Lyon and now Porto.

No wonder the European Club Association (ECA) chairman wants more games and guarantees for the big boys in a revamped Champions League; the Old Lady needs all the help she can get in Europe right now.

Of course, the big question is what Agnelli will decide to do with Ronaldo and Pirlo? The former is a colossal strain on the club’s resources; the latter has failed to prove he can deliver the European glory Juve so sorely crave.

Sporting director Fabio Paratici insisted at the weekend that he retains full faith in the Pirlo project but it was telling that the rookie coach was asked on Monday if he felt his future depended on the outcome of the Porto game.

“If I thought so,” he told reporters, “I wouldn’t be here.” Who knows now, though, how long he’ll be at Juve? The same goes for Ronaldo, who must now be questioning whether he should see out the final year of his contract.

He remains a goalscoring machine but looks unsuited to Pirlo’s style of play. As in the first leg at the Dragao, the Portuguese superstar struggled to get into the game. And as at the Dragao, it was Federico Chiesa – not Ronaldo – who dragged Juve back into the tie.

Juventus had performed pathetically in Porto, but the Italy international’s composed strike with just eight minutes to go secured the visitors a precious away goal.

It was wiped out just 18 minutes into Tuesday night’s return clash in Turin, with Sergio Oliveira coolly converting a penalty awarded for Merih Demiral’s clumsy challenge on Mehdi Taremi.

Consequently, Juve needed two goals just to force extra-time. They got them – thanks to the irrepressible Chiesa.

And it is he that the Bianconeri now arguably need to build their team around, given he has gone from strength to strength since joining from Fiorentina last summer.

Ronaldo, to his credit, was involved in the equaliser, laying the ball off for Chiesa, who finished emphatically into the top-right corner of the Porto net.

Then, after Taremi had been stupidly sent off for booting the ball away while already on a booking, Chiesa levelled the tie on aggregate by rising at the back post to expertly guide home the most inviting of crosses from the excellent Juan Cuadrado.

Juve had numerous chances to win the game, even before it went to extra-time, with Ronaldo surprisingly mistiming the kind of header he normally buries with ease.

Almost inevitably, the home side were punished for their profligacy when Sergio struck again, this time with a long-range free kick that Wojciech Szczesny really should have saved even accounting for the shameful disintegration of his wall, with Ronaldo again culpable.

That left Juve needing to win 4-2 to progress and Adrien Rabiot’s header with three minutes of extra time remaining gave the hosts renewed hope of a great escape.

But they could find no way past Pepe & Co. in the dying seconds despite intense pressure. It just wasn’t their night. Or Ronaldo’s game.

And one wonders now whether it will prove his last in the Champions League for Juve…

Kindly Share This
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sports

Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium Is The Best In Nigeria – Kwara Deputy Gov

Published

on

Kindly Share This

The Deputy Governor of Kwara State, Kayode Alabi, says the refurbished Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, Edo State is the best in Nigeria and capable of hosting international tournaments, The PUNCH reports.

During his tour of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in company with Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, on Thursday, Alabi praised Governor Godwin Obaseki for using sports as a tool to empower the people of Edo.

Alabi said, “I want to state categorically that Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium is the best stadium in Nigeria. I have gone around the stadium from the tennis, badminton and squash courts, to the gymnastics hall and swimming pool. All I can say is that Edo State Government has invested hugely in the sporting sector.

“With the facilities on ground, Edo can host AFCON matches, African Games and the Olympics events. Governor Godwin Obaseki is doing well in the area of engaging the youths through sports and, I know in the nearest future, the state will become a force to reckon with in the sports industry.”

Kindly Share This
Continue Reading

Sports

Sports Festival: Team Ogun Claim Five Gold

Published

on

Kindly Share This

Team Ogun win five gold medals on Friday at the National Sports Festival in Benin City, Edo State.

Oluwakemi Oladipo (T3) opened the gold rush in the para-athletics event, which took place at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium main bowl, winning the 100m event, beating teammate Dauda Aina, who claimed silver, while Team Delta picked the bronze.

It was the fourth gold medal for the team, having won a gold medal in Taekwondo on Day Two of the festival.

There was more to celebrate for Team Ogun in Benin City on Friday as Dorcas Adesokan won another gold medal in the badminton female singles event, after defeating No.2 seed Ruth Ebere from Edo in the final. Sofiat Obanishola of Kwara State shared the bronze medal with Team Edo’s Deborah Ukeh.

They claimed their third gold in men’s golf single match at the Benin Golf Club as Lateef Lasisi emerged winner ahead of Kano’s Haruna Mohammed and Edo’s Sam Agbiyegbe.

To bring the medal rush to an end on Friday, Bukunmi Afolayan and Adebisi Adekansi delivered gold medals in the scrabble ladies doubles event with a perfect score at the Imaguero College venue.

Team Ogun have a total of 24 medals (six gold, four silver and 14 bronze) at the festival.

Kindly Share This
Continue Reading

Sports

Sports Festival: Edo Top In Kickboxing

Published

on

Kindly Share This

Home fans went into wild jubilations at the Ogbemudia Indoor Sports Hall, the venue for kickboxing, as Team Edo emerged champions ahead of Delta and Bayelsa in the kickboxing events at the ongoing National Sports Festival in Benin City, The PUNCH reports.

The event, which ended Friday, had the hosts emerging as clear winners with a total of 31 medals (16 gold, eight silver and seven bronze).

Team Delta finished second with seven gold, 11 silver and nine bronze, bringing their total medals to 27, while Team Bayelsa finished third in the event with five gold, four silver and three bronze.

Speaking with The PUNCH after the event, a delighted Okporu Augustine, one of Team Edo’s coaches, said, “I am very happy because we worked hard for this tournament and our hard work paid off.

“We won 16 gold, eight silver and seven bronze. Many had thought Team Delta would be the winners, but the reverse is the case.

“This is as a result of the collective efforts of the coaching crew, who worked day and night. Team Edo were highly motivated and the result is what we are seeing now.”

Kindly Share This
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending