The Italian football season is set to restart following the well documented Covid-19 pandemic- which greatly affected the Italian peninsula. The date is set for June 20th, and Juventus, the current champions, could be heading for a historic 9th league title in a row.
Their superstar player is of course Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the true modern great players, but is the former Real Madrid player’s career winding down at the Old Lady? Will Ronaldo be satisfied without winning the full range of trophies after moving to Turin? Some may even say, does he regret leaving Real Madrid where he probably had a better chance of winning the Champions League again? In hindsight there could well be an argument for all that.
The question is what does Ronaldo want from the game? There is no simple answer because CR7 is looking to create more history. If we go back to Euro 2016 and asked Ronaldo if winning the European Championship was his crowning achievement, then surely the answer would be yes. This is another great example of Ronaldo creating history. Portugal winning their first ever silverware was and is a major statement.
Portugal had come close before particularly when they hosted the Euros in 2004, their star player that year was Luis Figo but in the final they lost 1-0 to the defend-first approach used by the Greeks. In France in 2016, it all came together for the Portuguese and Ronaldo finally won a major tournament with his country. Prior to that point he was heading for a similar theme as Lionel Messi, namely being a great club player but consistently coming up short with the national side. The sheer joy on his face when Portugal won was all too visible. It meant something much more than a club trophy for him, in a nutshell it was as if he had won something for the first time.
Now imagine Portugal had dominated for many years and this was, for example their 3rd silverware in a decade. True it would be special but for Ronaldo it wouldn’t be unique, not as unique as winning for the first time and being the driving factor in helping his side to win for the first time.
Ronaldo does two things- what motivates him the most is scoring goals and winning the big trophies. So if Juventus can shrug off Lazio, the only realistic team that can deny Juve this season, then the Bianconeri will have won the league 9 times in a row with back to back titles for Ronaldo. But is that really special for him? Is that enough for CR7? True it is for the club as they tear up the record books and for Ronaldo it is yet another trophy to mark down on his CV but let’s face it it is not as special as winning the Champions League with the Old Lady.
Ronaldo in effect was brought in to Juventus to deliver the Champions League after winning the competition 4 times with Real Madrid and once with Manchester United. Winning league titles and domestic cups is great but Ronaldo would certainly feel a big hole in his move to Italy if he couldn’t deliver the Champions League to a club which has been waiting for 24 years.
And that is the key here, winning the Champions League with Juve would be as important in many aspects as winning the European Championship with Portugal and winning the 3 Champions League trophies in a row with Real Madrid. It would feel more like an achievement bringing home a trophy to Turin that the Italian giants have not won since 1996 (rather than a league title).
Trophies are great of course but Ronaldo has set that personal bar of success so high that one wonders if the Champions League is beyond the club Ronaldo joined?
Time is moving on too and Ronaldo is 35. He’s achieved almost everything in his career and is going to be remembered as one of the greats. But if he leaves Italy without ‘Ol Big Ears’ as they affectionately call the Champions League trophy he will be the first to be upset.