Ronaldo ‘proud to be back home and wants to show them who he still is’
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo will play in his native Portugal for Juventus for the first time on Thursday (AEDT) and coach Andrea Pirlo is expecting something special from his talisman.
Juventus meet Porto in the UEFA Champions League last 16 on Thursday, with the Old Lady determined to improve upon last year’s continental exit at this stage to Lyon.
Madeira-born Ronaldo, 36, has not played club football in Portugal since November 2016 when Real Madrid defeated his former club Sporting CP 2-1 in the Champions League.
Pirlo said Ronaldo’s return home had provided added motivation for Portugal’s all-time top scorer and current international captain.
“[Cristiano Ronaldo] is back home in Portugal,” Pirlo said on Tuesday. “He is keen to score even more.
“He proved in the Coppa Italia and with his history in the Champions League, that he lives on the adrenaline of the knockout stages. He is proud to be back home and wants to show them who Cristiano Ronaldo still is.”
Ronaldo netted a double in Juve’s Coppa Italia semi-final victory over Inter earlier this month, while he is a five-time Champions League winner (four times with Real Madrid and once with Manchester United).
However, continental success has eluded Ronaldo since his move to Juventus in 2018, having lost in the 2018-19 quarters to Ajax and the 2019-20 last 16 to Lyon.
Remarkably since his move from Madrid to Turin, Ronaldo has scored all seven of Juventus’ goals in the Champions League knockout stages, which was not lost on skipper Giorgio Chiellini.
“Cristiano is special, but I am not the one who discovered that,” Chiellini said.
“He has been added value for us. We have been lucky to train with him to see every day the little secrets helping him become the true champion he is.
“Tomorrow we will play in Portugal, his home, I hope he will have even more motivation to perform well and score.”