Leonardo Bonucci said Friday that superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival at Champions League-chasing Juventus will mean the Italian champions won’t start matches against Real Madrid “already 1-0 down”.
Ronaldo has been the bogey man in Europe for Juventus in recent years, scoring 10 in seven games against the Serie A side for Real Madrid as the Spaniards romped to three straight Champions League titles.
“Having Ronaldo here will at least mean that if we meet Real Madrid we won’t be starting the match already 1-0 down,” said Bonucci, who has returned to Juventus after a year with AC Milan, at his official presentation in Turin.
Ronaldo has thwarted Juve’s attempts to bag their first Champions League since 1996 in both of the last two seasons, scoring a brace in the 2017 final as Madrid thumped the Italians 4-1.
Last season he again struck twice again as Madrid triumphed 3-0 in the first leg of the quarter final at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, including a blockbusting scissor kick that drew a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Ronaldo then slotted home the controversial stoppage time penalty at the Bernabeu to thwart Juve’s gallant comeback from three goals down.
Ronaldo’s 100 million euro ($117 million) signing, as well as boosting Juve’s international profile, was designed to help Massimiliano Allegri’s side go one step further after losing two Champions League finals in four years.
“He’ll take us to another level, and for Juve, who already have a strong team, that’s significant,” Bonucci said.
“The objective is to arrive in Madrid, try to win the league, cup and Champions League. That’s what Juventus has always been about.”
Bonucci returns to Juventus, where he previously won six Serie a titles and played in both of those lost European finals, after a disappointing season at an AC Milan side that were in disarray on an off the pitch.
The 31-year-old pushed to leave Milan even after hedge fund Elliott Management took ownership of the club from a disastrous Chinese consortium that spent big but had constant trouble keeping up with its financial commitments.
The Italian international admitted that he left Juve in a fit of pique after falling out with Allegri in 2017, but “missed home” and wanted to return after burying the hatchet with the coach.
“I chose to leave because my feelings told me to do it. Then I realised that decisions taken in anger aren’t always the right ones,” he said.
“Our relationship is very good and, like intelligent people should, we shook hands (after meeting Allegri at the FIFA Awards in London in October). It’s thanks to him that I improved as a player.”