Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Pirlo ´absolutely calm´ over Juve future after Champions League exit, defends Cristiano Ronaldo

SoccerNews in Serie A 10 Mar 2021

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Andrea Pirlo said he has not received reassurances over his Juventus future, rather confirmation from the president that the “project has just started” in Turin following the club’s Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Porto.

Juve crashed out of the Champions League in the round-of-16 stage for the second consecutive season – the Serie A titleholders bowing out 4-4 on away goals despite beating 10-man Porto 3-2 after extra time on Tuesday.

Federico Chiesa scored a second-half brace for Juve and Adrien Rabiot headed home after Sergio Oliveira’s second goal to set up a grandstand finish, but the Italian giants fell short.

For the first time in the European Cup/Champions League, Juventus have been eliminated in the last 16 for two consecutive seasons as pressure mounts on first-year head coach Andrea Pirlo.

Pirlo, who replaced Maurizio Sarri at the start of the season, also finds his Juve side third in Serie A and 10 points adrift of leaders Inter.

Asked about his future and whether he had spoken to Juve president Andrea Agnelli, Pirlo told reporters: “The president didn’t reassure me. He just confirmed that this project has just started.

“I’m absolutely calm about the future, I’m sure we will go forward together. We just started last summer. All players that joined Juventus last summer have showed that they have what you need to play at this level. So I’m sure we can do better in the next future.”

Juventus failed to progress from the knockout stage of the Champions League after extra time for the first time since 2016.

“I spoke with the president after the game and we spoke about the game and what we need to do to improve in the future,” Pirlo added. “We started well the game tonight. We had an occasion to score with [Alvaro] Morata but we missed it and then we conceded the first goal.

“After their goal we suffered, we were too long and also psychologically we were not in the game thinking that was too hard to come back. In the second half instead we played with a different approach and we were able to overturn the result. We were unlucky in some episodes and in the end we made another mistake that costed us the qualification.”

Cristiano Ronaldo fired a blank as Juventus bowed out on Tuesday – a result that immediately cast doubt over the 36-year-old’s future with the Bianconeri.

Juve have not advanced past the quarter-finals since five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo arrived from Real Madrid in 2018, having finished runners-up in two of the previous four seasons prior to his blockbuster signing.

Aside from his assist for Chiesa’s first goal, Ronaldo was largely subdued against Porto, but Pirlo defended the five-time Champions League winner.

“When Ronaldo plays in Champions League usually is like your team begin the game one goal ahead of your opponent. But it can happen even to an extraordinary player like him not to be able to score,” Pirlo said.

“Federico scored twice and played a great much. Also a champion like him [Cristiano] can have a bad game. He fought a lot tonight but unfortunately he didn’t lead us to go through the next stage this time.”

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