Rome, Mar 10 (efe-epa).- Juventus’ woes in the Champions League continued with a shock home defeat to Porto on Tuesday night as they got dumped out of the continent’s premier competition at the Round of 16 for the second year running.
The Old Lady’s hunt for a first taste of European glory since 1996 was the driving factor behind their acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo, a man who had won the competition five times, four of which came during his time at Real Madrid.
The Italian team, which lost out to relative European minnows Lyon and Ajax in the past two seasons, hit rock bottom on Tuesday when they were unable to get past a depleted Porto side that was down to 10 men for most of the second half and all of extra time after Mehdi Taremi’s expulsion.
Leading 2-1 with more than 35 minutes left, Andrea Pirlo’s men were unable to find the winning goal to overturn their 2-1 first leg deficit, with Ronaldo, the man they brought into to help quench their Champions League thirst, totally ineffective.
Unlike the previous defeats to Ajax and Lyon, the four-time Ballon d’Or winner was largely anonymous as he bade farewell to the tournament having failed to score in the knockout stages for the first time in 15 years.
Ronaldo’s tame performance, and the way he turned his back to the ball and allowed Porto’s deciding goal to go through his legs from a long-range free kick, has drawn heavy criticism.
Former Juventus coach and current Italian TV pundit Fabio Capello considered Ronaldo’s error to be “unforgivable”. “Those afraid of the ball cannot be in the wall,” he said.
The Portuguese did not speak to reporters afterwards, while Italian media has been rife with speculation about the 34-year-old’s future. His contract runs until 2022, but with Juventus seemingly listing, he could want out before then.
The managerial changes since his arrival in Turin are certainly a factor. Juventus took a risky decision in 2018 when they parted ways with coach Massimiliano Allegri, who won five consecutive Serie A titles and led the team to the Champions League final twice.