Cristiano Ronaldo has defended the decision by Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri to substitute him in their recent 1-0 win over AC Milan.
The 34-year-old Portuguese forward was taken off in the 55th minute days after missing the Bianconeri’s Champions League win at Lokomotiv Moscow completely.
What’s all the fuss about Ronaldo’s fitness? Five key things to know…
- Cristiano Ronaldo appeared angry to be subbed off after 55 minutes in Juventus’ recent win over AC Milan.
- It was the first time he started a Serie A game and not complete the full 90 minutes.
- In an apparent attempt to defuse the situation, Sarri intimated Ronaldo had been playing through injury.
- But the player subsequently featured in Portugal’s recent internationals, scoring four goals.
- And after a hat-trick vs Lithuania, Portugal manager Fernando Santos said he has no doubts about Ronaldo’s fitness.
Last weekend’s win was the first time since Ronaldo joined Juve that the former Real Madrid marksman had been hooked in a Serie A game. In the post-match press conference, Sarri cast doubt on his player’s fitness while explaining why he took his top-scorer off the pitch with the scoreline 0-0. He did so amid reports Ronaldo swore at him while walking off and subsequently left the stadium before full-time.
Heading into the recent international break, according to reports, there were also concerns raised by the Italian champions over Ronaldo’s participation in Portugal’s Euro 2020 qualifiers, with Juventus said to feel their most valuable player’s knee problems could inflame even further.
Ronaldo would start both wins over Lithuania and Luxembourg and score four goals across 173 minutes, which saw him move to within one strike of becoming the second man to ever score a century of international goals.
However, the five-time Ballon d’Or recipient has now stated Sarri was right to sub him off last time out, confirming his manager’s belief that he has been playing injured while reiterating his desire to sacrifice himself for Juve.
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“In the last three weeks I have been limited,” he told reporters.
“Everyone knows that I don’t like to be substituted, but there was no problem in my gestures after the change. I tried to help Juventus by playing injured.
“No one likes to be replaced, but I understand it, because I wasn’t well in those two games. I wasn’t 100%.”
Juventus next face Serie A’s top-scores Atalanta on Saturday afternoon, before attention turns to the evening’s kick-off. Inter, one point behind the reigning champions in the table, travel to Torino.