Andrea Comas/Associated Press
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has warned Juventus have more threats than only Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Tuesday’s decisive UEFA Champions League round-of-16 clash in Turin.
Los Rojiblancos won 2-0 in the first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano, and Simeone told reporters his players have more than just the former Real Madrid ace to be concerned with:
“Juve is not just Ronaldo, he has many champions with very experienced men. They have great quality ahead, (Federico) Bernardeschi, (Paulo) Dybala, Douglas (Costa), who can accompany (Mario) Mandzukic and Ronaldo, they all deserve our attention,” Simeone said.
Central defenders Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez each scored in Madrid last month to give Atletico a two-goal cushion travelling to the Allianz Stadium.
Ronaldo, 34, failed to get on the scoresheet back at the Wanda Metropolitano, but he stoked the flames between him and his old rivals despite Juve’s first-leg defeat, via the Guardian:
The former Real star has faced Atleti 32 times in his career, per Transfermarkt, losing nine times and winning on 15 occasions. He’s scored 22 goals in that span, only managing to score more against Sevilla (27) and Getafe (23) in his career.
Ronaldo sat down with Juventus TV in the buildup to Tuesday’s second leg and said a comeback is possible, urging the fans to do their part in inspiring the Bianconeri to qualification:
🎙 @Cristiano is ready. And you?
#GETREADY TO COMEBACK!
L’intervista completa su @JuventusTv ➡ https://t.co/yySGPPplz0
#JuveAtleti #UCL https://t.co/Z8K2m5RGje
The veteran is Juventus’ top scorer in all competitions with 21 goals, but only one of those has come in the Champions League. The last time Ronaldo failed to feature in the last eight of the Champions League was in 2009-10, the season he joined Real Madrid from Manchester United.
Paulo Dybala has five goals in six appearances in the competition, while Miralem Pjanic has two and Mario Mandzukic also has one—in contrast, Atletico have scored via six players so far in the tournament.
Massimiliano Allegri rested Ronaldo for Friday’s 4-1 Serie A win over Udinese, and sportswriter Adam Digby highlighted he wasn’t the only first-string star missing:
Adam Digby @Adz77
First time #Juventus have scored more than three goals in a single game this season & it comes without Ronaldo, Dybala, Mandzukic, Pjanic, Costa, Cuadrado, Pjanic or Cancelo #HandbrakeFinallyOff
Dybala—who isn’t certain to start on Tuesday—appeared motivated to add to his team-high haul:
Paulo Dybala @PauDybala_JR
Ready. Set. Go! #ucl #juveatleti #getready #GETREADYTOCOMEBACK #finoallafine ⚪️⚫️ https://t.co/CZhSbd9djs
Ronaldo has failed to find the back of the net in his last three appearances for Juventus, and keeping the Portuguese quiet won’t hurt Simeone’s chances of progressing to the quarter-finals.