Having gone almost the entire season with the view of the Italian public in his favour, Cristiano Ronaldo is now experiencing criticism for the first time in his Juventus career. The country’s most influential newspaper, ‘La Gazzetta Dello Sport’, ran the headline “Juve are CR minus 7” – a slur against Ronaldo’s poor recent form. Then, in the report that followed, the newspaper accused Ronaldo of “disappearing from the radar”.
He was a little late in scoring his opening goals for the club after signing in the summer, but the fact he was new mixed with the sheer effervescence of his arrival effectively eclipsed any doubts over his shortcomings. And soon he was scoring at will, prompting a wave of adulation from Italian fans and media alike.But in recent weeks Italy has started to show a new face with regards to its treatment of the famous forward. Despite Juventus’ triumph on the pitch against Napoli on the weekend, which all but confirmed the side’s conquest of the league title, the criticism of Ronaldo has risen a notch. Last Sunday he was viewed with a fair amount of anger, with the Italians’ hostility towards him reaching the levels he received from Real Madrid fans during his worst moments in the Spanish capital.
Ronaldo’s presence in the games against Bologna and Napoli was minimal, and he only managed two shots per game across the two encounters – a meagre return compared to his season’s average of six. And while Juventus roll over team after team in their domestic league, fans have accused Ronaldo of not being necessary due to the league’s easy nature.
Where Ronaldo is needed, however, is the Champions League, where he has struggled this season. He has only managed one goal in Juventus’ seven games in the competition – a tally many will see as insufficient. He was also quiet in Juventus’ shock defeat in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia to Atalanta, with the side going down by a surprisingly heavy three-goal margin.
“In a week’s time, the true Ronaldo will be seen” wrote ‘La Gazzetta’, referring to the crunch second leg against Atletico. For a team that is now 16 points clear of their nearest rivals in the league, failure to progress to the next round will leave them, and Ronaldo, without any remaining objectives.