March 10 – Once again Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus won’t win the Champions League. For the third time since the arrival of the Portuguese superstar, the Turin-based club have been eliminated in the round of 16 – at the hands of Porto this time, a setback for Juventus and its chairman and ECA boss Andrea Agnelli.
Juventus in the last two seasons have been knocked out after defeats to Ajax and Lyon. On Tuesday, it was Porto’s turn to prove too strong in a tie that was relentlessly dramatic. The perennial European heavyweights from Turin crashed out after extra time, despite playing for more than an hour against 10-man Porto.
In the 54th minute, Mehdi Taremi was sent off with his team leading 1-0, but Federico Chiesa’s brace restored the balance and tie, 3-3 on aggregate. But in extra-time, Sergio Oliveira’s 115th-minute goal was enough to send Porto into the last eight, even if Adrien Rabiot’s strike meant Juventus were left with a fighting chance in the waning minutes of the match.
The early exit will heap pressure on Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo. “I’ve been called here at Juventus because it’s the beginning of a new project, looking at the future and for several years. I continue calmly with my work,” said Pirlo in a flash interview after the final whistle.
In the Serie A, Juventus sit ten points behind the leaders of a league they have dominated for the past nine seasons. The downturn in results coupled with financial losses will come as a concern for Juventus boss Agnelli.
Earlier this week, Agnelli said that a new format of the Champions League post-2024 could be agreed upon within a matter of weeks. The new-look competition, introducing the “Swiss system”, is seen in some quarters to be entrenching the power of so called super clubs at the expense of genuine competition and shock results.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1618615412labto1618615412ofdlr1618615412owedi1618615412sni@o1618615412fni1618615412