Alessandro Del Piero believes Cristiano Ronaldo could be key for Juventus in what he expects will be a “very tactical” tie with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
The five-time winner returns to the Spanish capital tonight for the first leg of Juventus’ last-16 clash with Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Following Ronaldo’s €112m arrival from Real Madrid last July, Juventus have been regularly tipped to end their 23-year wait for Champions League glory by the likes of Gianluca Vialli and Wayne Rooney.
Heading into tonight’s match, the pressure will now be firmly on the Bianconeri to deliver amid all the expectations that have been placed on them.
And Del Piero is certain that Ronaldo can make a big impact on the tie with Atletico as he chases a sixth Champions League crown and a third one with a different club.
“A player like Ronaldo should never be sold, but there are cycles, motivations, new challenges,” Del Piero told AS.
“Cristiano has chosen an exciting one: winning the Champions League with Juventus. It’s difficult to judge Real’s decision.
“There are times when clubs have to make difficult but necessary decisions, and the desire of a player like Cristiano weighs more than any consideration.
“In light of what he’s doing, he doesn’t seem to be having trouble scoring against Italian defences.
“I think there isn’t so much difference between defences in Spain and Italy, even if the conditions have changed a lot compared to 10, 15 years ago.
“I don’t see any favourites this season, but Juventus are certainly very, very competitive.
“I love stadia that give off heat like the [Vicente] Calderon and now Wanda. I’ll be at the Metropolitan to comment on the game and I can’t wait.
“I expect a compact and organised Juve. It’ll be a very tactical tie, especially the first leg. [Massimiliano] Allegri will want his team to be focused.
“After that, they have a system that almost always delivers excellent results in the Champions League. It’s called CR7.”
The former Italian striker, who scored 290 goals in 705 appearances for Juventus and won six Serie A titles and their last Champions League title in 1996, also reserved praise for defenders Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci.
Del Piero added: “I challenge any team in the world to do without the three best defenders at the same time.
“if we’re talking about players at their level, the task becomes even harder. ”
The Atletico and Juventus match in Spain will begin at 9:00 PM (CET) tonight.