Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri has revealed Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to return to full match fitness in defence of the attacker’s performances since the resumption of play in Italy.
Ronaldo missed a penalty in Juve’s first game back following the restart and again went goalless against Napoli in the midweek Coppa Italia final. The 35-year-old did score from the spot in his return to Serie A on Monday but has still drawn widespread criticism for his sluggish performances.
The defending Serie A champions extended their lead at the top to four points with a 2-0 win over Bologna, as Ronaldo opened the scoring, taking his tally to 22 goals in 23 league games.
However, before the match, Sarri revealed he had spoken to the Portuguese forward about his domestic cup displays, saying as quoted by ESPN: “I spoke to Cristiano again, alone and for a long time.
“He mustn’t lose his confidence, I hope that the fantastic player of old will come back. It’s just that he’s not physically at his best right now.”
Where Sarri has deployed Ronaldo in Juventus’ attack has been a great source of debate since the former Chelsea and Napoli boss’ arrival. On the topic of his position, Sarri added: “He has scored 700 goals by starting slightly wide of centre, that’s his preference and that is normal.”
While Ronaldo’s performances have already spawned talk of his dreaded decline, shortly prior to the suspension of play Juve’s number seven equalled a Serie A recorded by scoring in 11 consecutive league matches.
Even when Ronaldo was finding the net, Sarri’s Juventus have been dogged by their critics for the majority of the season. In his debut campaign, the 61-year-old coach has been lumbered with sizeable task of instilling an intricate, attractive passing game onto his new side, while scooping up every trophy available.
Sarri tried to explain why fluidity has escaped his side for much of the campaign, telling Sky Italia (via Juventus’ official website): “As I said before, our problem is that we lack a little brilliance in general, because we produce a good amount possession, but we are not able to be dangerous.
“I think it’s part of the moment and, by improving the quality of the game, we will also improve in the implementation phase as a logical consequence. It will be important to give a signal of growth and return to the full result.”