EPL

Ronaldo presence had a negative effect on Juventus players, suggests Bonucci

By Sports Desk September 29, 2021

Cristiano Ronaldo's presence at Juventus may have had a negative effect on some of his team-mates as they started to take wins for granted, according to Leonardo Bonucci.

Portugal captain Ronaldo's three-year stay at the Allianz Stadium came to an end last month when returning to Manchester United in a shock transfer.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was an ultra-reliable frontman for the Italian giants, scoring 101 goals in 134 appearances.

That includes a return of 36 goals in 2020-21, a tally bettered by only four players across Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account.

But Juventus missed out on the title in a disappointing campaign last time out that saw them only just scrape into fourth place.

The Bianconeri did win the Scudetto in Ronaldo's previous two campaigns, but they never made it past the quarter-final stage of the Champions League in three attempts.

Bonucci has suggested Juve too often became reliant on Ronaldo – who has four goals in four games since rejoining United – to win them matches.

"This was the thing. The idea that one player, even the best in the world, could guarantee Juventus victory," he told The Athletic. "Cristiano's presence had a big influence on us. 

"Just training with him gave us something extra but subconsciously players started to think his presence alone was enough to win games. 

"We began to fall a little short in our daily work, the humility, the sacrifice, the desire to be there for your team-mate day after day. Over the last few years, you could see that.

"Last season, we finished fourth and won the Coppa Italia because we became a team again. 

"If you had thrown a piece of wood in the dressing room before those games it would have caught fire such was the electricity running through it. We missed that. 

"Maybe it was taken for granted that if we gave the ball to Cristiano he'd win us the game. But Cristiano needed the team as much as we needed him. 

"There had to be a trade-off because it's the team that lifts the individual even if the individual is the best player on the planet."

Bonucci has spent 11 seasons with Juve either side of a one-year spell at Milan in 2017-18, helping the Turin heavyweights to 17 trophies across a 445-game spell.

The 358 Serie A appearances made by Bonucci since he first joined Juve in July 2010 is a tally bettered by only four other players in the competition – Radja Nainggolan (360), Andrea Consigli (361), Antonio Candreva (365) and Samir Handanovic (408).

However, the veteran Italy centre-back has revealed he nearly left Juve a year prior to that unsuccessful Milan switch when Pep Guardiola and Manchester City came calling.

"I had this dream of being coached by Pep," Bonucci said. "The closest we came was in 2016. I was on the brink of joining City. 

"We were down to the very last details then Juventus decided not to sell. We decided to stay together. Then I went to AC Milan. 

"I could have gone to City but several things had to fall into place for it to happen. I'd also given my word to Milan. 

"Last year, I spoke to Pep again. He wanted me but I told him: 'Juventus is my home. I'm happy here. I feel at home here'. 

"I wanted to make up the ground I lost by going to Milan for a season. Becoming a symbol of Juventus again is the most exciting thing I could be doing in my career right now."

Related items

  • Porto 1-3 Atletico Madrid: Griezmann helps Simeone's men reach knockout stage Porto 1-3 Atletico Madrid: Griezmann helps Simeone's men reach knockout stage

    Antoine Griezmann, Angel Correa and Rodrigo de Paul scored and three players were sent off as Atletico Madrid earned a place in the last 16 of the Champions League after a riotous 3-1 victory over Porto.

    Following a goalless first half, Griezmann arrived at the far post after the break to divert in a corner and give Atletico the edge in a tight contest.

    Yannick Carrasco lost his cool in the 67th minute, being sent off after grabbing Otavio's head, before Porto's Wendell was shown a straight red card just five minutes later for an elbow, making it a 10-a-side game. Unused Porto substitute Marchesin also saw red amid chaotic scenes.

    Three goals were then scored from the 90th minute onwards, with Correa racing away to slot into the bottom corner and De Paul hammering in before Sergio Oliveira netted a consolation from the spot.

    The first big chance of the game fell Atletico's way in the 22nd minute as Carrasco's low ball across the face of goal found Thomas Lemar, but Costa made the save at point-blank range and Griezmann could not connect with the loose ball with the goal gaping. The Porto goalkeeper then denied Marcos Llorente from a tight angle.

    The visitors broke the deadlock in the 56th minute as Lemar's corner was flicked on by Geoffrey Kondogbia and turned in at the back post by Griezmann to give Diego Simeone's men a vital advantage.

    Carrasco refused to give the ball back for a Porto throw-in before lashing out at Otavio as the Porto midfielder attempted to grab it from him, the Belgian earning himself a straight red card.

    Ugly scenes ensued as both camps clashed, and Porto substitute Wendell suffered the same fate as Carrasco shortly after as he elbowed Angel Correa in the throat. Marchesin appeared to be red-carded for speaking out of turn from the sidelines.

    Correa broke away in the 90th minute to double Atletico's advantage with a low finish into the bottom-left corner before De Paul smashed in the rebound after Griezmann's shot was saved two minutes later.

    Porto pulled one back deep into stoppage time as Oliveira rifled a penalty past Jan Oblak, but Atletico had done enough to make it to the knockout stage. Porto must settle for the Europa League.

  • Milan 1-2 Liverpool: Hosts out of Europe as Reds finish off perfect group stage Milan 1-2 Liverpool: Hosts out of Europe as Reds finish off perfect group stage

    Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi scored in a 2-1 victory over Milan as Liverpool became the first English team to win all six Champions League group games in a single season.

    Although they fell behind to a Fikayo Tomori strike, the Reds rallied to round off a perfect group-stage campaign.

    And this result meant Milan not only failed to join their opponents in the next round but also missed out on a Europa League spot.

    Liverpool saw out a historic win – their first at San Siro against Milan – with little trouble.

    Despite knowing the stakes, Milan wasted much of the first half-hour showing too much respect to a Liverpool team whose many changes were evident in their disjointed play.

    But when the first real chance of the game finally came, it went to the hosts, and they took it to give a raucous home crowd a deserved moment of release.

    Tomori is unlikely to have many easier opportunities than a five-yard tap-in that came about when a corner somehow squirmed past three Liverpool defenders.

    To their credit, the visitors improved immediately, and they were soon level courtesy of a cool Salah finish after an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain effort had been parried.

    Liverpool kept up that new standard following the break, taking the lead for the first time 10 minutes after the restart.

    Fresh from scoring a late weekend winner at Wolves that saw him described as a "legend" by manager Jurgen Klopp, Origi was in the right place again to head home after Sadio Mane had been denied.

    With his team looking comfortable, Klopp looked to protect his big hitters, with Mane and Salah making way for Naby Keita and Joe Gomez.

    But those changes did little to disrupt the visitors' rhythm, or encourage Milan to push for the win that could have saved their European season.

  • Real Madrid 2-0 Inter: Wonderstrikes secure top spot for Ancelotti's side Real Madrid 2-0 Inter: Wonderstrikes secure top spot for Ancelotti's side

    Real Madrid secured top spot in Group D of the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Inter.

    Toni Kroos gave the hosts a first-half lead at the Santiago Bernabeu with a wonderful effort from 25 yards.

    And substitute Marco Asensio sealed the points with a beautiful strike to match 11 minutes from time.

    Inter were forced to play the final 26 minutes with 10 men after Marco Barella was dismissed for violent conduct.

    Needing a win to snatch top spot in Group D, the Nerazzurri made a bright start.

    Marcelo Brozovic's dipping volley went just over, while Ivan Perisic saw an effort blocked in the box.

    But Madrid took the lead against the run of play; Kroos receiving the ball from Rodrygo before drilling a delicious 25-yard strike past Samir Handanovic.

    The hosts went close to doubling their advantage before the break. Luka Jovic chipped Dani Carvajal's precise throughball into the side-netting, while Rodrygo hit the post from 16 yards out.

    Barella squandered a great opportunity to equalise three minutes after the restart; blazing over with only Thibaut Courtois to beat.

    Handanovic was called into action again at the other end with smart saves to deny Jovic and Casemiro.

    Inter's task became harder as they were reduced to 10 men. Following a collision with Eder Militao, Barella threw a punch at the Brazil international's calf and was subsequently dismissed for violent conduct.

    And Madrid made their numerical advantage count by sealing the points; Asensio curling a lovely 20-yard effort in off the far post.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.