Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri were reportedly involved in a long discussion after the club’s Coppa Italia 2019-20 final defeat to Napoli on penalties. Juventus played successive goalless draws on their return to action after a three-month COVID-19 halt. Ronaldo – who led the forward line– missed a number of good opportunities in both those games, the headliner being a penalty miss against AC Milan in the Cup semi-final. With Juventus set to resume their Serie A campaign against Bologna on Monday, Sarri and Ronaldo held a long talk over the Portuguese superstar’s four-match goal drought. Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Other Players to Watch Out in Bologna vs Juventus, Serie A 2019–20 Match.
Ronaldo was in terrific form in the league and had already scored 21 times in 22 appearances before the season froze. 11 of those 21 strikes came in successive league games making Ronaldo the first Juventus player to score in 11 consecutive matches but the 35-year-old seemed to be off pace of late. Cristiano Ronaldo Could Leave Juventus at the End of Current Season.
He has now gone four matches without a goal, which is a surprise for a player of his standards. Ronaldo’s last goal in all competitions came against SPAL on February 22 and since then the Portuguese has played Lyon, Inter, AC Milan and Napoli without scoring once.
Juventus boss Sarri admitted that Ronaldo is not “physically at his best right now” but said he has confidence that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will bounce back to his world-beating best soon. Both Ronaldo and Sarri have come under pressure following Juventus’ Coppa Italia final loss to Napoli on penalties.
Ronaldo stood watching as his side succumbed to a 2-4 defeat on shootouts with the Portuguese yet to take his shot. But more than the penalty loss, the goalless draw – second consecutive after Milan – has raised concerns at the club. In their first match since the coronavirus stoppage, Juventus played goalless drab at home against AC Milan with Ronaldo missed a penalty in regulation time.
"I spoke to Cristiano again yesterday, alone and for a long time,” said Sarri. “He mustn't lose his confidence, I hope that from tomorrow the fantastic player of old will come back. It's just that he's not physically at his best right now."
The former Real Madrid man has already scored 25 times across all competitions and with 21 league goals he is second to Lazio striker Ciro Immobile (25) in the Serie A golden boot race. One reason for Ronaldo’s struggle against both Milan and Napoli was playing as a centre-forward and Sarri was asked if Ronaldo will continue playing at that position despite his goal drought.
Sarri said that the Portuguese preferred playing in a different position. "We talked about it before the Coppa Italia matches. He has scored 700 goals starting slightly off the centre and clearly his preference is that," Sarri said. "It's his preference and that is normal," he added.
Meanwhile, Sarri asked the players and fans alike to forget the Coppa Italia final defeat and look forward to defending their Serie A title ahead of the trip to Bologna. "Losing a trophy is always something that weighs on you, and brings disappointment and bitterness," Sarri said. "But that's the situation. We need to move on and think about the next few games without being influenced by something we've lost."
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 22, 2020 05:57 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).