Rome: At 35, Cristiano Ronaldo is struggling to regain his famous explosiveness. This may be due to the three-month break for the coronavirus pandemic. Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo has failed to make an impact in his first two matches back. It makes his run of 19 goals in 14 consecutive games before the break seem like a distant memory.
“Right now his (physical condition) numbers are not bad. Maybe the best of the season, which means he trained a lot (during the lockdown),” Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri said Wednesday. He was talking to reporters after Juventus lost to Napoli in a penalty shootout in the Italian Cup final.
“In terms of his acceleration and top speed, his numbers are not what he’s accustomed to. But that’s normal for someone who hasn’t been playing games,” Sarri added.
In last week’s semifinal match against AC Milan, Ronaldo virtually disappeared after failing to convert a first-half penalty.
Against Napoli, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s impact lasted all of five minutes. Ronaldo earned a corner kick with a series of his trademark step-over moves. He then had his only chance of the match batted away by Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret.
Ronaldo could only watch helplessly when Napoli sealed the 4-2 shootout victory. He was slated to take the last shot, but there was no chance of that.
On verge of tears
During the awards ceremony, Ronaldo appeared on the verge of tears. The game coincided with his son Cristiano Jr’s 10th birthday. A title would have given Ronaldo the 30th trophy of his career for club and country.
This was supposed to be the month when Ronaldo was leading Portugal in the defence of its European Championship title. Instead, he’s going to have to play himself back into shape with Serie A resuming next.
Other Juve forwards also struggling
Juve’s other key forwards are also racing to get back into shape. Paulo Dybala has shown only flashes of brilliance after testing positive for COVID-19 for 50 days. His failure to convert the opening penalty of the shootout set the tone for the loss.
Gonzalo Higuain missed the two cup matches after injuring his right thigh upon the return to training. Douglas Costa had a series of injuries before the break.
“These are all players who are used to resolving situations individually,” Sarri said. “Right now we can’t expect more considering our condition,” he added.