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Cristiano Ronaldo not bothered by Juventus' struggles: Portugal manager Fernando Santos

Portugal v Azerbaijan - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Portugal v Azerbaijan - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Vyshakh K
ANALYST
Modified 25 Mar 2021
News

Portugal manager Fernando Santos has insisted that his skipper Cristiano Ronaldo has not been affected by Juventus' recent slump in form.

The Old Lady were bundled out of the Champions League in the last-16 stage by Porto on away goals after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate.

The mercurial forward received the majority of the criticism from fans, pundits, and ex-legends, with many singling him out as the reason for Juve's poor displays. Former Juve President Giovanni Cobolli Gigli went to the extent of saying signing Cristiano Ronaldo for €100million in 2018 was a mistake.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo

Andrea Pirlo's men bounced back with a 3-1 win over Cagliari in Serie A following their Champions League exit. However, their hopes of securing a record 10th-successive Scudetto suffered another blow following a shock 1-0 home loss to 16th-placed Benevento at the weekend.

There has been intense speculation about Cristiano Ronaldo's future at Turin in recent weeks, with the player being linked with a return to either Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Ronaldo was a part of the Portugal squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan, Serbia, and Luxembourg, and manager Fernando Santos has said he has no concerns about his skipper's morale.

"We've always been close to each other, very good friends, we don't really have a coach-player relationship," Santos told the media during a press conference.
"Ronaldo certainly represents great quality. He always shows great happiness and joy when he's with the team. He's an important player, probably the best in the world. I don't think he has any problem in terms of mentality at the moment," noted Santos.

Santos also talked about his players' desire to battle it out in Qatar and to lift the World Cup in 2022.

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"We know Cristiano Ronaldo always wants to conquer new trophies, but all the players want to win the World Cup. We can fight to become world champions," said Santos.

Cristiano Ronaldo fails to score as Portugal register a narrow win

Portugal v Azerbaijan - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Portugal v Azerbaijan - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier

Portugal sneaked out a narrow 1-0 win over Azerbaijan in the Group A World Cup qualifier match on Wednesday.

With Cristiano Ronaldo failing to find the net, Maksim Medvedev scored a clumsy own goal in the 36th minute, which helped the reigning European champions pick up the win in Turin.

Cristiano Ronaldo's poor showing on the evening means he continues to be seven goals away from becoming the all-time top scorer at the international level. This record is currently held by former Iran striker Ali Daei. who netted 109 goals during his playing days.

Portugal will next face Group A opponents Serbia on Saturday before playing Luxembourg on Tuesday

Published 25 Mar 2021, 20:45 IST
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