Tuesday, August 3

Ronaldo embraces perfection as he declares ahead of Pelé | Nicky Bandini | Football

Cristiano Ronaldo achieved perfection on Sunday. A goal with the head, another with the right foot and finally a third with the left. A perfect hat-trick, in the language of football. Perhaps it felt a bit less flawless for Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno, who was bleeding from his chin as the striker’s cleats caught him in the 14th minute, before the last two of those goals were scored.

It was a challenge that deserved a red card, Ronaldo raised his boot above shoulder height as he challenged for a cross. Referee Gianpaolo Calvarese opted for yellow. A moment of sliding doors that allowed Ronaldo to turn this into an afternoon of personal vindication, even as the larger context remained ambiguous for him and his club.

This had been a dark week for Juventus after their Champions League defeat to Porto. Ronaldo’s signing in 2018 was celebrated by the club’s directors speaking openly about their ambition to conquer Europe. However, the Bianconeri, who reached the final twice in the four years prior to their arrival, have now failed to make it past the round of 16 in consecutive seasons.

Reports in Spain claimed the player was ready to demand a transfer rather than serving the final year of his contract, unwilling to waste any more time at a club that couldn’t match his ambition. In Italy, experts accused him of disappearing when his team needed him most. Reflecting on Ronaldo’s three years in Turin, Gazzetta dello Sport columnist Luigi Garlando wrote: “The summary is one word: failure.”

A 3-1 win over the 17th-ranked team in Serie A will hardly reset the narrative. When Ronaldo ran to the nearest camera and flicked his ear after completing his hat-trick, it was tempting to wonder who the benefit was for. It certainly did not stop the flow of criticism. The evening ended at Sky Sport with Paolo Di Canio questioning Ronaldo’s bravery to turn his back on Sérgio Oliveira’s decisive free kick in Porto’s defeat.

And yet, for the Portuguese, this was another day of historic achievement. Those three goals brought him to 770 in his professional career, enough to move, on his own account, to the top of the all-time goal charts.

Many media reported that Ronaldo had already achieved that feat in January, but explained in an Instagram post that he had wanted to consider the goals that Pelé scored for the state of São Paulo and the Brazilian military teams. “The world has changed since then and football has also changed.” wrote Ronaldo on social media, “But this does not mean that we can simply erase history according to our interests.”

In truth, there are those who would still dispute his claim for the top spot. There is no official all-time scorers table, but The FIFA website has awarded the Hungarian Josef Bican an “estimated 805 goals”. Romário claims to have scored 1,000, while several Italian newspapers included it this week at 772.

How much do these details really matter? It seems certain that Ronaldo will also overtake Bican in time. This last milestone was significant above all because it allowed a moment of recognition between two of the best footballers in history. “Congratulations on breaking my record,” wrote Pelé. “My only regret is not being able to give you a hug today.”

Sports Premier 📺

That’s a first-half HAT-TRICK for Cristiano Ronaldo! 🎩

It seems that he has heard criticism since Juve’s shocking exit from the Champions League 👂 pic.twitter.com/oMvvnmtLki

March 14, 2021

The numbers can also serve as a reminder of how much Ronaldo has contributed to Juventus. He is once again a leader in the Serie A scorers chart for this season, with 23 goals, and will soon reach a century of strikes for a club he joined less than three years ago.

Discussions about its overall impact should consider more than what happens in the field. As Jonathan Wilson wrote in these pages recently, his base salary of £ 28 million a year is an extraordinary financial burden, made even heavier by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, there is no question that Ronaldo has raised the profile of Juventus, a value that is not easily measured even by metrics such as marketing revenue and improved endorsement deals. Andrea Agnelli was elected president of the European Clubs Association in 2017, but signing a five-time Ballon d’Or winner the following year certainly helped cement his position as a leader in continental play.

Neither of which can make up for this season’s colossal disappointment. Ronaldo’s goals on Sunday will mean little to Juventus’ season unless Inter falter down the stretch.

Lautaro Martínez leads the winner when Inter beat Torino to control the Series.

Lautaro Martínez leads the winner when Inter beat Torino to control the Series. Photograph: Alessandro Di Marco / EPA

The Nerazzurri are still 10 points ahead, although they have played one more match, after beating Torino on Sunday. His was a much closer match, 1-1 in the 85th minute, before a magnificent header from Lautaro Martínez sealed his eighth consecutive victory.

Juventus could be their only remaining rivals. Milan fell back nine points when they were beaten 1-0 at home to Napoli on Sunday night, their third loss in the last six league games. The Rossoneri appeared exhausted from their trip to Old Trafford in the Europa League, as well as decimated by injuries. Of his starting XI, perhaps only five players could be considered first-choice, including the recently promoted Fikayo Tomori.

That takes nothing away from Napoli, who have overcome their own obstacles to fight for the Champions League spots. Piotr Zielinski has been in spectacular form, and the quality of his assist for Matteo Politano’s goal was only enhanced by the strong exchange of passes with Elseid Hysaj who preceded him, after the Albanian intercepted a pass from Diogo Dalot.

Fri: Atalanta 3-1 Spezia, Lazio 3-2 Crotone. He sat: Benevento 1-4 Fiorentina, Genoa 1-1 Udinese, Sassuolo 3-2 Verona. Sun: Bologna 3-1 Sampdoria, Cagliari 1-3 Juventus, Milan 0-1 Naples, Parma 2-0 Rome, Turin 1-2 Inter.

If Ronaldo felt unfairly attacked by the media this week, then Gennaro Gattuso has been unhappy with his treatment for much of this season, lamenting the lack of support from his employer as well, before the club fell into silence of press that has lasted almost a year. month. He is expected to leave at the end of the season, although neither he nor the club have said so publicly.

Napoli are 11 points and 15 goals better than the corresponding point last season, but Sunday’s victory was the first away from Stadio Diego Armando Maradona since January 10 and remains fifth for now. Perhaps Gattuso felt at home in San Siro. But if Milan aren’t careful, they could still become the top four displacing team.


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