WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
This is not what Ronaldo signed up for
Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Juventus to win the Champions League and further burnish his reputation as one of the greats. Juventus, who have *only* won Europe's premier competition twice, signed Ronaldo to win the Champions League.
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It is not going well. In the three years the Portuguese has been at the club, Juve have made it to the last 16 twice and the quarter-finals once. It is damning that Juventus and Ronaldo could not get past 10-man Porto on Tuesday. That is not to say Porto are a bad side but, with a man advantage, Andrea Pirlo's team should have got the job done. These are the exact occasions Ronaldo was signed for.
Ronaldo and Juve fell short; resultantly, they are now out of the Champions League and sit third in Serie A some 10 points off the pace with a rookie manager at the helm. Juventus are very much a side in transition and Ronaldo did not sign up for this. The Portuguese is hardly known for his patience, and in the twilight of his career he can't afford a new-found appreciation of its virtue.
Yet, he may have no choice.
For, should he push for a move, his options are limited. His contract at the Juventus Stadium runs until 2022. Realistically, who can - and who will want - to put together a package for him this summer? His wages remain - to be generous - substantial and a whole tactical system has to be built around him to warrant the signing. Ronaldo, it seems, will remain in a marriage of inconvenience with Juve until the summer of 2022.
But where then? Of the super clubs, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona are unlikely in the extreme to show any interest. Elsewhere, PSG expect to have Neymar and Kylian Mbappe tied down to long-term deals by then, and Manchester United, perennially linked, appear wedded to a re-found appreciation of youth.
Not quite the swansong Ronaldo expected.
However, Juventus will come again, led by the irrepressible Federico Chiesa, who was excellent in the Porto defeat.
'Even with amazing Ronaldo sometimes champions can't score' - Pirlo on Juventus defeat
Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham: wow
Erling Haaland has scored 20 Champions League goals in 14 games. That is ridiculous. He added two in his side's 2-2 draw against Sevilla in the Champions League on Tuesday. However, forget all the goals, the most impressive facet of his game on show on Tuesday night? Pettiness.
Sevilla keeper Bono taunted the Norwegian after he had saved Haaland's first penalty and the Borussia Dortmund forward let him know about it when he fired home after the referee ordered a re-take.
There is something very, very relatable about a highly trained, exceptional athlete showing elite levels of pettiness.
Just as impressive as Haaland's pettiness was the excellence with which Jude Bellingham trotted around the midfield of a Champions League last-16 encounter at the age of 17. 17 years of age and he ran it.
He is some talent.
Galatasaray: a leading light
Turkish club Galatasaray will install a solar energy plant on the roof of its stadium. A whole plant, apparently, which seems a lot.
Anyway, the club has done a deal with energy company Enerjisa.
Great work all round.
IN OTHER NEWS
Here is a contender for the worst corner routine. Ever. It came in a goalless draw between Azulão and Santo André in Campeonato Paulista in São Paulo.
However, spare a thought for Brazilian footballers: their 2020-21 season just rolled into their 2021-22 season. They started playing in August 2020 and will finish in December 2021. Madness.
IN FURTHER OTHER NEWS
Hulk remains strong.
Look away now Spurs fans. The Athletic have detailed how Mauricio Pochettino became one of the world’s most admired coaches. And it is all about relationships.
Between the theory and the realisation on the pitch lies mountains of work. And what underpins all of that work is the second aspect of Pochettino’s approach to management: his relationship with his squad. Because all that tactical theory would be irrelevant if Pochettino could not convince the players to believe in him. Pochettino’s job, and one that he relishes, is to make his players feel part of something. Those bonds of loyalty are what make the football come to life on the pitch.
Chelsea were formed on this day in 1905. Here are Didier Drogba’s 11 best Champions League goals for the club.
All manner of football. Manchester City face Southampton in the Premier League at 18:00, Atletico Madrid face Athletic Bilboa in La Liga at the same time and there is the small matter of Barcelona against PSG and Liverpool against RB Leipzig at 20:00.
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Andi Thomas, the Mauricio Pochettino of the Warm-Up rotation, shall be here to take you through all of that.
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