Football

Juventus not over-dependent on Ronaldo: Massimiliano Allegri

Juventus have been sent back to the drawing board after their Champions League ambitions were shattered by unfancied Ajax Amsterdam.

The Turin club have dominated Italian football, winning Serie A for the last seven seasons, and their signing of five-time World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo last July was interpreted as a bold statement of their European intentions.

But those dreams were left in tatters after they lost 2-1 at home in their quarter-final, second leg yesterday morning (Singapore time), going out 3-2 on aggregate.

The current Juventus side are arguably the least appealing since Massimiliano Allegri took over in 2014, depending largely on Ronaldo's talent to unlock matches, reported Reuters.

Playmaker Paulo Dybala, in particular, seems to have been inhibited by Ronaldo's presence and the Argentinian's season took another frustrating turn yesterday when he was taken off at half-time with a thigh injury.

Allegri, however, said that Juventus were "absolutely not" over-dependent on Ronaldo.

Instead, he blamed injuries to players such as key defender Giorgio Chiellini, winger Douglas Costa and forward Mario Mandzukic, previously described by Allegri as Ronaldo's ideal striking partner.

He said: "Football isn't maths.

"Ronaldo gave us a lot during the season. We signed him to increase our chances of winning the Champions League but, in football, one plus one does not always make two, it can also be either six or zero.

"I have always said that you have to arrive at the right time in the best condition, when you reach the quarter-final, you need every player.

"We've been in a bit of an emergency situation for a while and that can only be sustained for so long. We were missing four or five players."

Despite Juve resting most of their team for the 2-1 defeat by SPAL last weekend, club legend Alessandro Del Piero said they looked tired and confused.

He said on Sky Sports Italia: "Juve looked confused. Ajax held their ground well and really tired the Juve players."

Despite another European failure, attacker Federico Bernardeschi is confident Juventus will win the Champions League within the next two seasons.

He said: "I believe the Champions League will arrive in Turin. If it's not this year, it'll be the next and if not the next, then the one after. It'll come."

Football