Cristiano Ronaldo’s return a timely boost for Juventus, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return a timely boost for Juventus

Portugal superstar looks ready for Ajax, though Zaccheroni says he wouldn't risk him

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to fitness could be vital to Juventus' bid to end their Champions League drought going back 23 years, as they take on Ajax Amsterdam tomorrow morning (Singapore time) in a quarter-final, first-leg tie.

The 34-year-old hasn't played for the Serie A leaders - who are just one point away from sealing an eighth straight Italian league title - since scoring the sensational hat-trick that saw Juve come back from a 2-0 first-leg deficit to knock out Atletico Madrid last month.

He was rested in the subsequent 2-0 league defeat at Genoa and then picked up a thigh injury on international duty with Portugal two weeks ago.


But, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner joined his teammates for training yesterday and appeared to be fit, reported the Daily Mail.

Portuguese teammate Joao Cancelo, himself recovering from a calf strain, believes that Ronaldo will be present.

"Cristiano's training, he's a serious professional. He has committed himself to do everything possible to be there and help the team," right-back Cancelo told Sky Sport Italia.

"I really think he'll be called up, we'll see if he plays from the first minute or if he will come on later. The coach will decide."

Ronaldo's presence would be a boost for Juventus, who signed the superstar for 100 million euros (S$153m) last summer and agreed to pay him a 31m-euro annual salary to end their search for the Champions League title they last won in 1996.

He is the only player to have won the title five times and is the record goalscorer in the competition with 124.

However, former Juve coach Alberto Zaccheroni insists that Ronaldo should not be risked for the Ajax game, especially since the Bianconeri are the better side, Calciomercato reported.

"Juve are favourites. Ajax have a good team, but Juve are superior," Zaccheroni said.

"Would I risk CR7 (Ronaldo)? Given that Juve have the pulse of the situation, I wouldn't do it.

"It is not a final and they are strong, even without Ronaldo. It is not wise to trust the player, one should trust the doctors.

"Once, at Inter Milan, I played Cristiano Zanetti. After 10 minutes, he was upside down, stiff."

Zaccheroni may have a point, largely because the Italian giants have good stand-ins.

In the case of Ronaldo's absence, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri would most likely line up with Mario Mandzukic, Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala.

Moise Kean, 19, also offers Allegri a goalscoring option as he has burst into the limelight in Ronaldo's stead with five goals in as many league games.

Meanwhile, Douglas Costa, Mattia Perin and Andrea Barzagli are back from injury. But Giorgio Chiellini, who picked up a calf problem at the end of training on Monday, and Emre Can will miss the trip.