For as long as he’s around Cristiano Ronaldo will forever be a topic of discussion, for good and bad, off and on the pitch.
Usually the question is broader, about his place in the world or his place in history. But at the moment, the question is more over his place in the Juventus side, something that James Horncastle discussed on the latest European edition of the Totally Football Show.
“He was left out of the squad [for Juve’s 3-1 win over Atalanta on Saturday], officially so he would be ready for their Champions League game against Atletico Madrid. But he played in the international break for Portugal, partly because those games were crucial to them qualifying.
“Since he’s been back, Juventus have pretty much maintained the line they had when they took him off in the last game before the break, saying he’s carrying a knee injury, that’s been affecting the rest of his body, he hasn’t been able to train consistently, and that’s been impacting his performances.
“Ronaldo did say, ‘I never like to be substituted, but I have made sacrifices, I grit my teeth and play, even though other players would say ‘sorry coach, leave me out.’’ But in some respects, maybe it would have been better for him to do that, rather than go through the motions, sulk and get subbed.”
Ronaldo will almost certainly play against Atletico, but should he?
“The issue is that Paolo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain look fantastic [together]. They’re scoring and combining in a much more fluent way than when Ronaldo is on the pitch.
“You always get those numbers about Ronaldo’s shot volume, about how he shoots more than anyone else in Europe, but you wonder how many shots he’s taking away from other players in the side.
“He will come back [against Atletico]. Ultimately the knockout game between these sides last season was his ‘calling card’ – ‘this is why you signed me.’ And in fact he said that after the game.”
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