News ID: 234833
Published: 0340 GMT November 26, 2018

Red-hot Ronaldo gunning for revenge against Valencia

Red-hot Ronaldo gunning for revenge against Valencia
MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP

Cristiano Ronaldo is in hot form and gunning for revenge going into Tuesday's Champions League clash against Valencia after seeing red against the Spaniards in the away leg, with Juventus needing a draw in Turin to book its ticket to the knockout rounds of the European competition.

"Happy to have helped the team on another important win," the 33-year-old wrote on social media after scoring his tenth goal this season for the Italian giant in Saturday's 2-0 win over SPAL as Juventus opened up a record eight-point lead on the top of Serie A after 13 games, AFP reported.

Ronaldo was purchased by Juventus for €100 million from Real Madrid last summer to help its quest for the elusive Champions League title after finishing runner-up twice in the past four seasons.

But the Portuguese superstar is also proving to be a key element in the team's race toward an eighth straight Serie A title, with nine goals and five assists of their 28 goals this season.

No Italian team has ever achieved 37 points from the first 13 games, with Ronaldo becoming the fastest forward in the club's history to score 10 goals in all competitions.

"I don't not care about the numbers. I don't count anything, the important thing is that we take it home in May," said coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Juventus is top of the Group H with nine points after four games, with Manchester United two points behind and the Spaniards on five.

Ronaldo's Champions League debut for Juventus in September was marred when he was controversially sent off in tears after half an hour for a small push on Valencia defender Jeison Murillo in Spain.

Ronaldo scored his first Champions League goal for Juventus and the 121st of his career against Manchester United in Turin earlier this month before a stunning comeback gave his former club a 2-1 win to delay the Italians' passage to the last 16.

 

Crisis mode

 

Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, meanwhile, return to the Champions League on Tuesday in crisis mode after the latest setbacks in their domestic leagues.

Madrid, the three-time European defending champion, was humiliated 3-0 by Eibar in Spain on Saturday, The Associated Press reported.

The first defeat for new coach Santiago Solari renews debate over his team’s ability to challenge for honors in its first season without Ronaldo in nearly a decade.

Solari, who started with four wins after replacing the fired Julen Lopetegui, next faces a stern test at Roma.

Madrid and Roma are level on nine points and seem assured of progress from Group G. The Italian club will be through with a draw, or if CSKA Moscow fails to beat Plzen in the earlier group game.

Bayern, which appeared without a serious rival as it clocked up six consecutive Bundesliga titles, is suddenly vulnerable in Niko Kovac’s first season in charge.

Bayern was held to a 3-3 draw at home by promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf – a relegation candidate – on Saturday, and is already well behind resurgent Borussia Dortmund. A seventh straight title is appearing increasingly unlikely.

Kovac has a point to prove when his team hosts Benfica, though a draw will be enough to ensure progress to the next round.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness, who previously said he would defend Kovac “to the hilt,” appears to have changed his tune after saying Saturday that club officials would sit down after Benfica’s visit to see “how things should continue.”

Bayern, which leads Group E with 10 points from four games, would top the group with a win over Benfica if Ajax, on eight points, fails to beat AEK Athens away in the earlier game.

Benfica, on four points, needs to beat Bayern to maintain any hope of a top-two finish.

 

   
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