Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus career continued to stall in the Champions League, as he struggled massively and they crashed out of the competition once again.
The Serie A champions came into the tie 2-1 down from the first leg, where Ronaldo was largely invisible and Juventus were saved by an away goal from Italian winger Federico Chiesa. The second leg was much of the same, with Ronaldo barely getting a sniff in front of goal as Porto took the lead from the penalty spot in the first half. Juventus took the game to extra-time though thanks to a double from Chiesa once again, as Porto were reduced to ten-men in between the two goals thanks to a red card for Mehdi Taremi.
The game never made it to penalties though as Sergio Oliveira scored a second goal of the game in extra-time with a long distance free-kick to give them the lead on aggregate and on away goals. Adrian Rabiot pulled one back almost instantly with a header but Porto held on for a historic win on away goals.
It marks the third season for Ronaldo at Juventus where the club have massively underachieved in the competition he was brought in specifically to help the club win.
Ronaldo had previously been the only Juventus player to score in the knockout stages of the competition during his time at the club, but he was largely invisible for both legs of this tie against the champions of his homeland.
With the team so heavily structured around getting the best out of him, when he doesn’t perform it can be counter productive. In recent games, he has been the one let down by his teammates but on this occasion it was he who failed to live up to the standards he has set for himself as Portugal teammate Pepe kept him at bay for the three-and-a-half hours of football they played against each other.
At 36 years old, with Juventus set to surrender the Serie A title for the first time in ten seasons and having literally got worse in Europe, it may be time for the Old Lady to think about time after Ronaldo.
Andrea Pirlo almost certainly won’t see next season after losing the title and not making any progress on the continent and having Ronaldo a year closer to retirement probably won’t do the next manager any favours either.
As he enters the final year of his contract, the likelihood of finding a buyer for the legendary attacker is slim considering his wages. But Juventus could look into paying him off a year early and letting him head for another league that he can dominate, such as France or even the MLS.
92 goals in 120 appearances so far for Juventus plus two Serie A titles and other domestic trophies mean Ronaldo has been far from a full on flop in Italy. But barring a miracle turnaround next season, if he stays, the sole goal of Ronaldo’s transfer to Turin will remain unfulfilled.
This is the worst Juventus side in recent memory and while Pirlo is the biggest reason for that, Ronaldo’s lack of influence is beginning to show too.