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‘He wanted to play’ – Sarri defends Ronaldo inclusion

Maurizio Sarri, Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus
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The Juventus boss defended his decision to include Cristiano Ronaldo in Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Cagliari despite the Serie A title being already sealed.

Juventus and Ronaldo came crashing back down to Earth on Wednesday night in a humbling 2-0 defeat to Cagliari. It came just three days after winning a ninth consecutive Serie A title.

The re-crowned champions were anything but impressive at the Sardegna Arena, with Luca Gagliano and Giovanni Simeone’s goals earning the hosts an unexpected victory.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, has all but surrendered the Capocannoniere and European Golden Shoe awards to Ciro Immobile, who scored for Lazio on the same night, after hitting a blank.

The Real Madrid legend nows trails Immobile by four goals in both races and likely won’t play in Juventus’ last league game against Roma on Saturday.

Although Ronaldo’s inclusion in Sarri’s heavily rotated squad still raised a few eyebrows.

“Speaking to him yesterday, he was very motivated, wanted to play, was really enthusiastic and felt good,” Sarri told DAZN.

“We made the decision together, he knows his body better than anyone.”

It wasn’t a great night for Ronaldo either. The Cagliari defense restricted him to long-range shots in the first half, all of which they blocked. But he was probably only one of few players who tried to make things happen.

Sarri continued: “Ronaldo is instinctive and doesn’t fit entirely into certain tactical roles, which is also his strength, but it means the other striker has to adapt to Cristiano’s movements.

“We did it well at times this evening too, but didn’t finish the moves.”

Sarri may field the U-23 team for Juventus’ last league game against Roma on Saturday to give his senior stars some rest.

The champions have nothing left to play for in the Serie A, meaning their full focus should be on overcoming a 1-0 aggregate deficit in their Champions League last-16 clash against Lyon on August 7.

“The problem is that that we are the only team in Europe who will have to play five times in 12 days,” Sarri pointed out.

“We’ll see how we are tomorrow and whether we ought to field the Under-23 team in its entirety at the weekend, so that everyone can get a bit of rest.”