Ronaldo’s return vital to Juventus’ Champions League success

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to form could be crucial for Juventus, who want to end the drought in the Champions League 23 years ago, as they head for Ajax on Wednesday, in the uncertainty of knowing if their superstar will play or not.



Ronaldo did not play for the Serie A leaders - who have only one point to win to win an eighth league title in Italy - since the sensational hat trick that saw Juve come back from a deficit of 2-0 in the first leg, to hit out Atletico Madrid last month.

He rested in the 2-0 defeat that followed in Ligue 1, then injured his thigh in Portugal two weeks ago.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri remains confident that the 34-year-old will be ready for Wednesday's match in Amsterdam.

"He (Ronaldo) always feels ready. We are confident to have him at Ajax on Wednesday, "Allegri said after his 2-1 win against AC Milan.

The five-time winner of the Golden Ball has joined his teammates for training on Monday and is expected to travel with the team to the Netherlands.

His Portuguese team-mate Joao Cancelo, himself recovering, think Ronaldo will be present.

"Cristiano's training is a serious professional. He's committed to doing his best to be there and help the team, "said Cancelo right-back at Sky Sport Italia.

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

Ronaldo himself gave no update on his injury, except for a short video posted on his social media accounts, seeming relaxed as he drove his car and sang with his partner, Georgina Rodriguez and his son.


- Psychological Boost -


The presence of Ronaldo would be a physiological boost for Juventus who signed last summer the king of the Champions League goals for 100 million euros and agreed to pay him an annual salary of 31 million euros for end his quest for the title won in 1996..

Ronaldo is the only player to have won the title five times and is the record scorer of the competition with 124, including 15 last season.

The Italian champions were beaten as finalists in 2015 and 2017, with Ronaldo as Real Madrid's target in the latter.

This campaign, Ronaldo was excluded in the group's opening match against Valencia, with a single goal against Manchester United before his spectacular hat-trick against Atletico.

But he brings more energy and enthusiasm to the team.

After the defeat in Madrid last month, Allegri had predicted that Ronaldo would lead them to Turin.

"In matches of this type, he is really excited and enthusiastic and his advantage is a huge advantage," said Allegri.

The performance of the Portuguese ace on the ground had not been affected by off-the-ground concerns, including an investigation into alleged 2009 rape allegations against him in the United States, which he vehemently denies.

"That's why Juventus bought me to help them in such games," said Ronaldo.

In the absence of Ronaldo, Allegri would most likely line up with Mario Mandzukic, Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala.

Teenager Moise Kean also offers Allegri a way to score goals as he made one of the stars in Ronaldo's absence with five goals in as many league games.

Winger Douglas Costa also seems close to the return of a recurring muscle injury.

In Germany, Emre Can, suffering from a sprained ankle, will miss the trip as Juventus and Ajax play for the first time in 16 years.

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