‘Juve can go all the way,’ says Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo had every reason to jump for joy after yet another Champions League masterclass. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019
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‘Juve can go all the way,’ says Ronaldo

  • The Portuguese star was at his brilliant best as the Turin giants came back from a 2-0 first-leg defeat at Atletico Madrid to win at home 3-0 and go through to the last eight
  • The Champions League has been his favorite stage throughout his stunning career, and he scored his eighth hat-trick in the competition to sink Atletico hearts

LONDON: Cristiano Ronaldo sent a message to Real Madrid fans and an ominous warning to the rest of Europe after his brilliant hat-trick sent Juventus storming into the Champions League quarterfinals.
The Portuguese star was at his brilliant best as the Turin giants came back from a 2-0 first-leg defeat at Atletico Madrid to win at home 3-0 and go through to the last eight.
It was always going to take something special to beat the Spanish side — they had never lost when up 2-0 from the first leg, and the side is one of, if not the most defensively disciplined in Europe. With Diego Simeone at the helm, it was, everyone assumed, mission impossible for Juve.
But those predictions reckoned without another jaw-dropping Ronaldo display. The Champions League has been his favorite stage throughout his stunning career, and he scored his eighth hat-trick in the competition to sink Atletico hearts.
No sooner had he once again done the “impossible” than he told their last-eight rivals that more was to come.
“This was why Juventus brought me here, to help do things that they have never done before, to help them in games like this. I do my job and I’m very happy. It was a magical evening,” the 34-year-old said. “It was always going to be a special night and it was — not only for the goals but for the team. This is the mentality you need to win in the Champions League. We enjoyed a magical night.
Atletico were a difficult team but we were strong too. We will see what will happen.”
The first-leg had been a tough one for Ronaldo. The former Real Madrid star was back in the Spanish capital but at the home of Real’s city rivals. The fans let him know it and the Portuguese was not at his best. But having turned the tie around three weeks later, he was able to get his own back.
“I send a hug to all Real Madrid fans,” he said with a wink after his masterclass.
When a player usually says something along the lines of “that’s why they bought me,” there is an understandable temptation to dismiss a statement as being egotistical nonsense. But with Ronaldo, never one to shy away from reminding you how good he is, there is a huge sense that he was spot on.
Despite dominating Serie A, Juve are without a Champions League win since 1996, and an appearance in the final since 2015. Desperate for European glory, they spent over €100 million ($113 million) on the then-33-year-old, for some too much on a player that age. Now it is looking like good business; he was, as he said, brought for nights like these.
For defeated coach Simeone, there was no bitterness as he claimed there is no better player than the Portuguese hero, saying: “Cristiano Ronaldo is the best in the world. He can put in these performances on big nights.”


Unai Emery wants Arsenal to treat Al-Nasr friendly as if it was a Premier League clash

Updated 24 min 55 sec ago
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Unai Emery wants Arsenal to treat Al-Nasr friendly as if it was a Premier League clash

  • Gunners to open Al-Maktoum Stadium with friendly against Dubai side.
  • Emery calls for focus ahead of such for Champions League spot.

LONDON: Unai Emery has told his Arsenal team to take today’s friendly against Al-Nasr seriously as they aim to grab a top-four spot in the Premier League.
The north London side are in Dubai for warm-weather training during the international break. They currently lie fourth in the Premier League and would qualify for the Champions League if they were to stay there. And Emery wants Mesut Oil and Co. to treat the Al-Nasr match as if it was a key clash in the battle for a European spot.
“For us it’s very important to continue being competitive in each match,” the Gunners boss said.
“It’s a friendly against Al-Nasr, but we can use different players and take more confidence and rhythm for the next matches that are coming. And the first of that is against Newcastle.
“If we were in London, then we would have been doing the same things that we are doing here.
“The main thing for us is to have the continuity going into this friendly match where all of our players get an opportunity (to play).
“We need to give the players a platform to remain confident and keep their rhythm heading into the remainder of the season.”
The players have been out and about in Dubai trying to get some relaxation in before the final straight of the season. They have been spotted on a bus tour of the emirate, visited the Dubai Frame and four players — Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck, Hector Bellerin and Petr Cech — visited a children’s hospital to dish out gifts.
Of the trip to Dubai Emery added: “The atmosphere is continuing like in London and we’re also enjoying a big city and the very kind people with us. They’re giving us all the good things to continue our work.
“We are happy to see our fans and happy with our work here with the big facilities.
”And in preparing also for the match on Tuesday with Al-Nasr and enjoying the city. We are also very happy with all the people who are giving us everything to make it easy to work and to stay here.”
The Gunners will face Benat San Jose’s Al-Nasr side to officially open Al-Maktoum Stadium — which was refurbished for the Asian Cup.
Emery will be without a number of first-team faces, with many currently on international duty. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mohammed Elneny just four of the names who will be missing.
The lack of many first-team regulars means Emery has a chance to look at some young players as he readies the squad for the last two months of the season. Of all the top-four hopefuls — the Gunners are battling it out with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United — Arsenal’s run-in is the easiest. They no longer have to face any top-six side and, but they do have five away games out of their remaining nine matches.
Of the training in Dubai striker Alexandre Lacazette added: “It’s interesting for the club. We have to say thank you. For us, it’s a pleasure to play in this match.”