Cristiano Ronaldo was destined to be at the centre of transfer speculation after Juventus were bundled out of the Champions League, according to head coach Andrea Pirlo.

The 36-year-old forward has been linked with a return to Real Madrid at the end of the season, three years after he moved to Italy.

Juventus were eliminated from the Champions League by Porto on Tuesday, with Ronaldo facing criticism from figures including Fabio Capello after the second leg.

He notably turned his back on Sergio Oliveira's free-kick that found the back of the net in extra time, which triggered much of the negative judgement.

Ronaldo also failed to score in either game against the Portuguese giants, in a tie that Juventus lost on away goals.

"He's fine, it's normal that he's disappointed with what happened the other night," Pirlo said in a news conference on Saturday.

"It's normal there are rumours after an elimination. He is the most important football personality in the world, together with [Lionel] Messi.

"But let's remember that he has always done well for us, scoring about 90 goals in 100 games. It can happen that in one match he does not score, and with him that makes for more and more fuss."

Juventus are back in action on Sunday when they have a Serie A trip to Cagliari.

Trailing leaders Inter by 10 points heading into the weekend's fixtures, Juventus can ill afford to drop points at this stage of the season.

"I have lived through many of these situations. I have won a lot and lost a lot," Pirlo said.

"I have always tried to start up again with enthusiasm after great disappointments. We start again with the desire to show that we are Juve.

"We can take the championship to the last game. It depends on us, on the goals we have all set ourselves.

"From moments of great sadness we have to bring out our best and I am convinced that we will do it tomorrow.

"It will be an important match after the elimination. It will take team spirit to play a great game."

A second coming for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Spanish capital?

After a trophy-laden spell with Real Madrid, Ronaldo made the switch to Juventus.

But Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer is reportedly keen on a second stint at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO EYEING MADRID REUNION

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to return to Real Madrid, according to the frontpage of Saturday's Diario AS.

Ronaldo's future with Juventus has been placed in doubt following the club's Champions League last-16 exit.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who left Madrid for Juve in 2018, has reportedly been in contact with Los Blancos for months.

 

ROUND-UP

- New Barcelona president Joan Laporta will offer superstar captain Lionel Messi a fresh contract in the coming weeks, reports Mundo Deportivo. The deal would include Messi – heavily tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City as a free agent at the end of the season – becoming a club ambassador after retirement. Laporta is also set to push ahead with moves for Bayern Munich's David Alaba, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and City forward Sergio Aguero.

City lead the race to sign Haaland, according to the Daily Mail. Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Manchester United, Chelsea, LiverpoolJuve, PSG, Barca and Madrid.

Joao Felix is also an option at the Etihad Stadium. Cuatro claims the Atletico Madrid star is a target if Aguero leaves City.

- Le10Sport claims PSG remain in talks with Neymar over a four-year contract extension. A deal is believed to be some way off.

Harry Maguire wants United to sign an English-speaking defender, reports The Transfer Window Podcast. The Red Devils have been linked with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, Sevilla's Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly. But Brighton and Hove Albion's Ben White has emerged as a target.

- TMW Radio says Atletico could be set to make a move for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz. The Spain international has been previously linked with Barca and Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a sensational return to Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane faced questions over the Juventus star's future on Friday.

It was reported this week that Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, had contacted Madrid over a potential switch back to the LaLiga champions.

Portugal captain Ronaldo is Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer after finding the back of the net a staggering 451 times in 438 matches before joining Juve on a four-year deal in July 2018.

Madrid boss Zidane could not escape the speculation at his latest media conference as talk over the possibility of the 36-year-old rejoining Los Blancos continues to rumble on.

"We all know what he means for the club, what he did for the club," he said.

"I coached Ronaldo, he's part of the club's history, his contribution was magnificent but right now he's a Juventus footballer and he's doing very well for the club and there's not much more I can add to all the things that have been said.

"He's a Juve footballer and I have to respect the club and the player."

Madrid host struggling Elche on Saturday knowing they have no margin for error in the title race, as they trail Atletico Madrid by eight points.

Zidane says relegation-threatened Elche must not be taken lightly.

"We know in the Spanish league there are no easy games really," said the former France playmaker. "You look at the league table and it doesn't tell the whole story.

"It's a club that are down near the bottom, but they are a very good side and have put in some very good performances this season in the league.

"Now with the new manager [Fran Escriba] things have changed. We expect a tough game and we know we've got to put in a great performance if we want to take all three points and that's our aim."

Ronald Koeman only took charge of Barcelona at the start of the season, but his tenure could be brief.

With Joan Laporta back at Camp Nou as president, he is determined to make his mark.

And highly rated RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann is reportedly fancied in Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – LAPORTA FANCIES NAGELSMANN

New Barcelona president Joan Laporta is eyeing RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann as the club's next head coach, according to El Larguero.

Laporta was elected Barca president on Sunday and attention has immediately turned to the dugout at Camp Nou.

Ronald Koeman is currently at the helm but while Laporta respects the Dutchman, he prefers Nagelsmann.

 

ROUND-UP

Paris Saint-Germain could make a move for Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo if Kylian Mbappe leaves, claims Le Parisien. Reports in Italy and Spain say Juve will sell Ronaldo at the end of the season following their Champions League last-16 exit. With Mbappe's future unclear in Paris amid links to Real Madrid, PSG are eyeing a possible deal for Ronaldo. Barca's Lionel Messi has also been heavily linked.

- The Daily Mail reports Chelsea are keen on Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman if Christian Pulisic leaves Stamford Bridge. Liverpool, Manchester United and Bayern have emerged as possible suitors for Pulisic, who is out of favour under Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. Coman was linked with United during the previous transfer window.

Barca are dreaming of signing Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, claims Mundo Deportivo. Madrid, PSG, United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Manchester City are all reportedly keen on Haaland. City forward Sergio Aguero, Lyon captain Memphis Depay, Bayern star David Alaba and City defender Eric Garcia are also among Barca's list of targets.

- Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is a target for Inter, according to Calciomercato. The Netherlands international has been linked with Barca previously.

- Ajax's Brian Brobbey will join Leipzig on a free transfer at the end of the season, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Sergio Ramos believes he can play at the highest level for five more years but admits there has been no breakthrough over a new contract at Real Madrid.

Reports in Spain have claimed Ramos will leave Madrid at the end of the season, when his current deal expires. A recent offer from Madrid was said by Spanish media to be worth 10 per cent less than his existing agreement.

The 34-year-old centre-back has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and there appears to be a significant chance of him opting to move elsewhere after 16 seasons with the Bernabeu giants.

Whether he signs a new deal with Los Blancos or decides to depart, Ramos – who has not played since January after suffering a knee injury – is in no doubt he can perform on the biggest stage for years to come.

"There is a lot of uncertainty," he told reporters on Thursday. "I wish I could say something, but there is nothing new.

"I was only thinking about coming back from injury and finishing the season in the best possible way.

"There is nothing new about the renewal. I guarantee that when there is, I will be the first to report it. But now I am calm. Now I am focused on savouring the year.

"I can perform three, four or five more years, if my body supports me and the injuries respect me.

"I can be at the highest level. I work hard for it and my mentality will always be there. I make mistakes, but I learn from everyone. I've been honest and I've always done my best."

Ramos also defended his former Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese superstar came in for criticism following Juventus' early Champions League exit this week.

Juve were eliminated from Europe's elite club competition by Porto at the last-16 stage on Tuesday, going out on away goals after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate after extra time at the Allianz Stadium.

Sergio Oliveira scored the decisive goal late on from a free-kick that went straight through the Juve wall, with Ronaldo turning his back on the effort.

Former Bianconeri boss Fabio Capello singled out Ronaldo, while ex-president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli suggested Juve should never have spent €100million to sign the forward in 2018.

Ramos, though, has backed Ronaldo and hopes Madrid can avoid a similar fate to Juve when they take on Atalanta in the second leg of their last-16 tie next week, the LaLiga side holding a 1-0 advantage.

"He is the flagship of Juventus," Ramos added. "You think of Juve and you think of Cristiano.

"If a bad streak comes, we only talk about the captain and the coach. It's something you have to stay away from. Cris makes a difference.

"Nothing guarantees success. Any team can beat you in the Champions League. Barca fell yesterday, Juventus the day before. It could happen to anyone, but hopefully not us."

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of football's all-time greats and cannot be blamed for Juventus' early Champions League exit, according to international team-mate Bruno Fernandes.

Juve were eliminated from Europe's elite club competition by Porto at the last-16 stage on Tuesday, crashing out 4-4 on away goals after extra time at the Allianz Stadium.

Sergio Oliveira scored the decisive goal late on from a free-kick that went straight through the Juve wall, with Ronaldo sheepishly turning his back on the effort.

Former Bianconeri boss Fabio Capello singled out Ronaldo on the back of the two-legged defeat, in which the five-time Ballon d'Or winner failed to find the back of the net.

Ex-president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli went as far to suggest Juve should never have spent €100million to sign the forward in 2018, meanwhile, but Fernandes has defended his compatriot.

"Cristiano is one of the greats in football history. His mentality inspires those who practice this sport," Fernandes told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He has won a lot, but no one can win alone. 

"I understand that his presence at Juve had created enormous expectations for the Champions League, but when a team lose, the whole squad lose, not one single player.

"I'm not surprised [by the result]. Porto have a winning mentality. They play aggressive football and I expected them to create problems for Juventus."

While Ronaldo and Juve are enduring a difficult campaign, Fernandes is going from strength to strength at Manchester United.

The former Sporting CP star has scored 16 goals and assisted 10 more in the Premier League this campaign, which is the highest direct goal involvement of any midfielder in Europe's top five leagues.

Fernandes spent five years in Italian football with Novara, Udinese and Sampdoria, though it was not until joining Sporting in 2017 that his career truly took off.

"I had to complete my physical growth," Fernandes said of his time in Italy. "I was moving from one country to another.

"I didn't fully establish myself because the role of the attacking midfielder isn't easy in [Italian] football."

Fernandes cited the example of Juve attacker Paulo Dybala, who has often struggled for consistency, before explaining the differences between Italian and English football.

"The story of Dybala seems enlightening to me," he said. "Everyone expects something special from him, but we are always strict towards him.

"Udinese was, also for the years spent with the Friuli, the most important stage, but the change of coach didn't help me.

"It was too bad, because I had found a real teacher in Francesco Guidolin. If I had spent more time with him, it might have been different.

"Anyway, I can only thank Italy for what it has given me. I was happy, I lived an experience of growth, I measured myself with a country where the football is of the highest level."

He added: "There's a lot of intensity in the Premier League. The pace is high.

"The smaller sides have quality and they make you suffer. In Italy, the tactics are like a university of sport."

Fernandes is expected to start United's Europa League last-16 first leg with Milan at Old Trafford on Thursday in a battle between two historically successful European heavyweights.

Milan have not competed in the Champions League since 2013-14, while United have only made it to the quarter-finals of the competition once since the same season.

However, both teams are second in their domestic leagues and are among the favourites to go all the way in the Europa League.

"In some respects, [United] and Milan are the same," he said. "Two clubs with a prestigious past, with 10 Champions League trophies in the cabinet, both have gone through a phase of transition, but are returning to the top.

"At the beginning of the season, no one thought that Milan could fight for the Scudetto. We are in March and they are second. 

"They play well, have interesting young players and the added value of [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic's strength."

Thursday's game will mark the 11th time Milan and United have met in European competition, with all 10 previous encounters coming in the European Cup or Champions League.

United have been eliminated from four of their five knockout ties with Milan, with no side knocking out the Red Devils more often in European competition – Real Madrid having also managed it four times. 

Cristiano Ronaldo should never have been signed by Juventus and the club must try to sell the superstar forward at the end of the campaign, according to former president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli.

Portugal international Ronaldo joined the Italian giants from Real Madrid in a high-profile €100million transfer ahead of the 2018-19 campaign on a lucrative four-year contract.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner guided Juve to back-to-back Serie A titles in his first two seasons at the Allianz Stadium, but the nine-in-a-row Italian champions trail Inter by 10 points this time around with a game in hand to play.

Juventus crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Porto on Tuesday, having previously been knocked out by Ajax and Lyon in the quarter-finals and last-16 respectively during Ronaldo's time in Turin.

Sporting director Fabio Paratici revealed ahead of Juve's 4-4 away goals defeat that a new deal for Ronaldo, who failed to score in either leg against Porto, "is not on the agenda".

And Gigli, Juve president between 2006 and 2009, has hit out at Paratici for sanctioning the signing.

Asked if bringing in Ronaldo was the wrong choice, Gigli told Radio Punto Nuovo: "Absolutely, yes! I said that on his very first day at Juventus. He is a great champion but is too expensive.

"Now it's up to Juventus. They've been paying him €1m per goal. [Juve president Andrea] Agnelli must be self-critical, but he doesn't have great collaborators.

He added: "The club should free Ronaldo at the end of the season and the same goes for Paratici. Maybe Agnelli had promoted him to remove him from his position afterwards. This could be the scenario."

Gigli also questioned Pavel Nedved's position as vice-president on the back of Juve's latest disappointing Champions League elimination.

"I've known him as a great champion, but he is not capable of being the Juventus vice-president," he said. "They should think again about his role within the club.

"He didn't attend [Massimiliano] Allegri's last press conference and I didn't like that. I know they were not on good terms. He claimed he was abroad, but it's true, he was in Italy. He doesn't have the Juventus style."

Juventus won the Supercoppa Italiana in January with victory over Napoli and will take on Atalanta in May's Coppa Italia final, but Andrea Pirlo's first campaign as head coach looks set to go down as a disappointment.

"Juventus need a rebuild now," Gigli added. "I don't blame Pirlo. I hired [Ciro] Ferrara and it was not a positive experience. 

"Agnelli took a risk. He didn't want [Maurizio] Sarri but he accepted him because Paratici and Nedved pushed to hire him."

Cristiano Ronaldo has been criticised by Fabio Capello for an "unforgivable mistake" as Juventus were eliminated from the Champions League by Porto.

The Old Lady were dumped out of Europe's elite competition on Tuesday as their 3-2 victory after extra-time in Turin saw Porto qualify for the quarter-finals on away goals with the tie level at 4-4 on aggregate.

On a rollercoaster night at Allianz Stadium, Juve were left with an uphill battle after Sergio Oliveira's 19th-minute penalty had Porto 3-1 up in the tie, before a brace from Federico Chiesa early in the second half initially spared the hosts.

That was enough to take the game to extra-time – Mehdi Taremi's sending off in the 54th minute seemingly giving Andrea Pirlo's men the edge – but an Oliveira free-kick made it 2-2 on the day and gave Juve too much to do despite Adrien Rabiot's header two minutes later.

Oliveira's decisive strike went straight through the Juve wall, with the ball going between Ronaldo's legs as he sheepishly turned his back on the effort, and former Bianconeri boss Capello was infuriated.

"Cristiano Ronaldo then cannot go in the wall like this," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"Whoever is in the wall should not be afraid of the ball, but they must be aware that they can be hit by it.

"He turned around and this is an unforgivable mistake that has no excuses. It was a very serious mistake."

Capello then castigated the so-called leaders in the Juve dressing room, pointing the finger at them for not coming out to face the media and explain themselves, with Chiesa and Matthijs de Ligt the individuals who took part in post-match duties.

"At certain moments the captain and the elders have to show their faces," he said. "Instead they sent Chiesa. They [the "elders"] showed up when they won the games."

Elimination left Andrea Pirlo's tenure with a poor outlook only worsened by their fortunes in Serie A, with the defending champions 10 points adrift of leaders Inter – even if they win their game in hand, the Old Lady will have a significant gap to claw back.

Capello now suspects the Juve hierarchy regret ushering Massimiliano Allegri out the door in 2019.

"The much-maligned Allegri won championships and made two Champions League finals and what he did was never highlighted," Capello continued.

"It was said that there was a need for a different brand of football, but when you try to do different things you often go towards things that are not always pleasant and positive."

Andrea Pirlo said he has not received reassurances over his Juventus future, rather confirmation from the president that the "project has just started" in Turin following the club's Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Porto.

Juve crashed out of the Champions League in the round-of-16 stage for the second consecutive season – the Serie A titleholders bowing out 4-4 on away goals despite beating 10-man Porto 3-2 after extra time on Tuesday.

Federico Chiesa scored a second-half brace for Juve and Adrien Rabiot headed home after Sergio Oliveira's second goal to set up a grandstand finish, but the Italian giants fell short.

For the first time in the European Cup/Champions League, Juventus have been eliminated in the last 16 for two consecutive seasons as pressure mounts on first-year head coach Andrea Pirlo.

Pirlo, who replaced Maurizio Sarri at the start of the season, also finds his Juve side third in Serie A and 10 points adrift of leaders Inter.

Asked about his future and whether he had spoken to Juve president Andrea Agnelli, Pirlo told reporters: "The president didn't reassure me. He just confirmed that this project has just started.

"I'm absolutely calm about the future, I'm sure we will go forward together. We just started last summer. All players that joined Juventus last summer have showed that they have what you need to play at this level. So I'm sure we can do better in the next future."

Juventus failed to progress from the knockout stage of the Champions League after extra time for the first time since 2016.

"I spoke with the president after the game and we spoke about the game and what we need to do to improve in the future," Pirlo added. "We started well the game tonight. We had an occasion to score with [Alvaro] Morata but we missed it and then we conceded the first goal.

"After their goal we suffered, we were too long and also psychologically we were not in the game thinking that was too hard to come back. In the second half instead we played with a different approach and we were able to overturn the result. We were unlucky in some episodes and in the end we made another mistake that costed us the qualification."

Cristiano Ronaldo fired a blank as Juventus bowed out on Tuesday – a result that immediately cast doubt over the 36-year-old's future with the Bianconeri.

Juve have not advanced past the quarter-finals since five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo arrived from Real Madrid in 2018, having finished runners-up in two of the previous four seasons prior to his blockbuster signing.

Aside from his assist for Chiesa's first goal, Ronaldo was largely subdued against Porto, but Pirlo defended the five-time Champions League winner.

"When Ronaldo plays in Champions League usually is like your team begin the game one goal ahead of your opponent. But it can happen even to an extraordinary player like him not to be able to score," Pirlo said.

"Federico scored twice and played a great much. Also a champion like him [Cristiano] can have a bad game. He fought a lot tonight but unfortunately he didn't lead us to go through the next stage this time."

Juventus only had themselves to blame as they crashed out of the Champions League on away goals to 10-man Porto, according to head coach Andrea Pirlo.

A thrilling tie finished 4-4 on aggregate after extra time in Turin, but a 115th-minute free-kick from Sergio Oliveira – who opened the scoring with a first-half penalty – meant Porto progressed despite losing 3-2 on the night.

The brilliant Federico Chiesa scored a second-half brace for Juve and Adrien Rabiot headed home after Oliveira's second to set up a grandstand finish.

But it was not enough, as Cristiano Ronaldo again drew a blank when faced with long-time international team-mate Pepe at the heart of a dogged Porto defence.

Pirlo felt Juventus failing to show similar robust qualities over the course of the tie cost them dear.

"We made four mistakes in two games," he told Sky Sport.

"When you make a mistake four times in the first knockout round of the Champions League, it is normal that you go out.

"We had a good start, there was immediately an opportunity for [Alvaro] Morata. 

"We did not score and the incident in the area cost us an error and a penalty kick. Then we could have conceded another but in the second half we did well."

Juventus had greater control after the interval, although that was aided by Porto striker Mehdi Taremi being sent off for two bookings in quick succession after Chiesa's equaliser.

Further questions will now be asked over rookie coach Pirlo's suitability for one of the top jobs in European football.

Inter are 10 points clear of Juve in Serie A having played a game more, with the Bianconeri's grip on the Scudetto looking far looser than it has at any other time over the past decade.

"It will take a few days [to get over the Porto game]," Pirlo added. 

"We have to focus on the championship by facing every match in the best possible way, to try to move up the table." 

Around the time Massimiliano Allegri guided them to Champions League finals in 2015 and 2017, there would have been a sense of inevitability in any game where Juventus needed a 1-0 home win.

They would approach task with confidence and efficiency and probably win 1-0.

Andrea Pirlo's Juve needed a 1-0 win to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday but had not won a single game by that margin all season. They ended up going out on away goals to 10-man Porto after a thrilling and unwieldly slugfest.

Holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg at Estadio do Dragao. Sergio Conceicao's side lined up with something approaching a back six whenever they were out of possession.

Before the opening half hour was up in Turin, they had managed eight shots and were ahead through Sergio Oliveira's emphatically dispatched spot-kick.

Juve were a rabble. A shadow of the sleek winning machine under Allegri and every inch a team on their way to relinquishing a decade of domestic dominance in Serie A. 

In the years since a judiciously run sporting operation decided to go Galactico, the team beaten by Barcelona and Real Madrid in their most recent final appearances have bowed out to Ajax, Lyon and Porto – each time failing to get the job done on home turf in the second leg.

If this is how Andrea Agnelli oversees the rebuild of a great squad, perhaps UEFA should think twice before letting him revamp the entire Champions League.

No six appeal for Ronaldo

Of course, it is not all Cristiano Ronaldo's fault. He entered the match with 10 goals in as many Champions League home games for Juventus. Were it not for his stunning hat-trick against Atletico Madrid in 2019, they would have three consecutive last-16 exits to their name.

But in a career full of vintage nights, this was nothing of the sort for the five-time Champions League winner.

Ronaldo failed to touch the ball in the Porto area during the first half, missed a glorious chance to head a decisive goal from one of many sumptuous Juan Cuadrado crosses and turned meekly away as Oliveira's drilled free-kick went through the wall and beyond Wojciech Szezesny.

Adrien Rabiot headed home Federico Bernardeschi's corner to set up a grandstand finish and give Juve a joyless 3-2 win on the night, but Oliveira's unlikely brace proved decisive.

For Ronaldo and Juventus, the dream was over. As Erling Haaland continued his phenomenal goalscoring feats in Borussia Dortmund's similarly unhinged aggregate win over Sevilla and on the eve of Kylian Mbappe probably putting Barcelona and Lionel Messi out of their misery, the era might also be over.

Chiesa shows his class

Whoever the leading lights of the next generation prove to be, Federico Chiesa looks worthy of being part of the conversation.

The 23-year-old winger entered this game with two goals and as many assists in his past five outings, including Juve's vital away goal in Porto. He left it having produced a magnificent breakout performance on the biggest stage.

With Ronaldo missing in action, it was Chiesa and Alvaro Morata who took the fight to the visitors, the latter drawing a couple of superb saves from Porto goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin.

Four minutes into the second half, Ronaldo found a touch inside the area and an exquisite one at that. The lay-off was into Chiesa's stride and he opened his body expertly to stroke home.

Then a game that had cracked with low-level excitement exploded into a cacophony of incident and near chaos.

Taremi, such a nuisance to Juve during the first period, became a maddening inconvenience to his own team with two bookings in as many minute – the second for booting the ball away. Everyone can hear the referee's whistle nowadays, Mehdi.

Chiesa looked to have smuggled his and Juve's second, only for the monumental Pepe to hurl his body towards the ball with all the composure of someone trying to smother a live grenade. It hit the post and went wide.

Juventus's most dangerous attacker got a goal more in keeping with the beauty of his overall performance, arriving late at the back post to head Cuadrado's delicious right-wing cross into the top corner.

Chiesa then skipped effortlessly past Jesus Corona, although Marchesin stood firm to prevent the hat-trick. He was more than worthy of the matchball and the win.

In this muddled present dwarfed by a towering recent past, Chiesa provides measure of comfort and a promise of better days ahead for Juve.

Pirlo appears to have passed up his chance of being a part of those, while the clock is louder than ever before on the great Ronaldo – humbled by his dogged and defiant countrymen.

Sergio Oliveira scored twice as 10-man Porto dumped Juventus out of the Champions League with a scintillating away goals victory after a 3-2 second-leg defeat in Turin.

Juventus' task of overturning a 2-1 deficit from the first leg was compounded when Oliveira's penalty gave Porto a the lead after 19 minutes, but Federico Chiesa netted twice in 14 second-half minutes - either side of a red card shown to Porto striker Mehdi Taremi - to take the round-of-16 tie into extra-time.

Oliveira buried a stunning second goal of the night with five minutes left in the second period of extra-time, only for Adrien Rabiot to equalise and set up a tense finish.

Porto held on to spark wild celebrations on the visiting bench as Juve's quest for a first European title since 1996 ended in failure, heaping pressure on head coach Andrea Pirlo.

Matthijs de Ligt has put to bed suggestions he could have joined Manchester United in 2019, insisting they were never an option when he signed for Juventus in order to learn from the world's best defenders.

Despite only being 21, De Ligt is already something of a household name in European football, having come through the ranks at Ajax and earned himself a reputation as arguably the best young defender in the world.

His rise was rapid and impressive at Ajax, at the time becoming the youngest player to play a major European final, the club's youngest ever captain and the first recipient of the Golden Boy award – given to the best under-21 player in Europe – to be a defender.

Much of the praise De Ligt was afforded during his early days at Ajax related to his ability on the ball, with many expecting him to join Barcelona such were his technical talents, although United were also said to be in the running.

Therefore, his move to Juve came as something of a surprise initially, but he is adamant United - linked again more recently - have never made an approach and the switch to Turin made sense in the context of his dream to be the world's best defender.

"Honestly, I never heard anything from them [United]," De Ligt told the Telegraph.

"It was like you did at school, like with mathematics. It was a long process. You put the pros and the cons and, in the end, I chose Juventus."

While De Ligt arguably has not quite hit the heights most were expecting yet, with injuries proving disruptive this season, he has been showing clear signs of progress.

Although restricted to just 21 appearances in all competitions this term – partly due to a shoulder problem that kept him sidelined for three months – the Dutchman seems to have improved across the board.

His touches (86.8 from 70.8), attempted passes (76 from 61.1), completed passes (69.6 from 55.7), successful passes in the opposing half (25.1 from 20.2), tackles won (1.2 from 0.6) and interceptions (1.6 from 0.9) are all up significantly on a per-90-minute basis from last term, showing De Ligt is enjoying more influence in his second season.

"If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere," he continued. "I'm where I want to be and where I can learn as much as possible. There are experienced guys – [Giorgio] Chiellini, [Leonardo] Bonucci – but also a goalkeeper like [Gianluigi] Buffon and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"We all have our different characteristics, and I do not try and copy them, but I look at Ronaldo and see what he does, how he stays fit all the time.

"I ask for tips, for advice. What I have also learnt is that I need to do things that are good for me. In the end you find your own rhythm."

Buffon returned to Juve around the same time De Ligt signed, having spent 2018-19 at Paris Saint-Germain, and is still going at the grand age of 43.

He is now just 24 matches behind Alessandro Del Piero's record of 705 appearances for the club, yet despite his longevity and age, De Ligt insists mentally he is as sharp as a player in his prime.

"Well, he could be my father!" De Ligt quipped. "It's funny because when I see him and the way he behaves, I don't think he's twice my age and that's also his strength and why he is still playing. He plays with a head like a 29-year-old."

The Champions League round-of-16 second legs get underway on Tuesday, with Porto and Borussia Dortmund holding the upper hand over Juventus and Sevilla respectively.

Juve's latest bid to bring their domestic dominance to bear on the European stage is hanging by a thread, with Sergio Conceicao's robust side arriving in Turin 2-1 to the good.

If that tie is on a knife edge, Dortmund's task looks slightly more straightforward on paper – their 3-2 first-leg win having come on the road at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

However, Edin Terzic's side might be wounded by their sapping Klassiker loss to Bayern Munich at the weekend and Sevilla boast formidable European pedigree. Stranger things have definitely happened.

So, to help you navigate the potential madness, we take a closer look at both matches using Opta data.

 

Juventus (1) v (2) Porto: Ronaldo aiming to break the shackles

On his return to his homeland, Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo found himself unusually frustrated during the first leg.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner managed just one shot – his lowest return in a Champions League knockout match since he failed to register a shot on goal during the second leg of the 2010-11 semi-final between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

However, Federico Chiesa's crucial late away goal at the Estadio do Dragao snapped a run of five consecutive clean sheets in this season's competition for Porto, who are looking to achieve three consecutive shutouts on the road for the first time since November 2012.

Nevertheless, history is still weighted against the Primeira Liga club finishing the job.

Porto are winless in their previous 13 away games in the Champions League knockout stages, drawing four and losing nine.

You have to go back to a 3-2 win over Milan in 1996 for their most recent victory in Italy, with five defeats on the spin since then.

On the other hand, Juventus have been eliminated on five of the past six occasions they lost the first leg of a Champions League tie.

The exception came when a Ronaldo hat-trick wiped out Atletico Madrid's 2-0 advantage two seasons ago.

Once again, the 36-year-old looks their most likely hero. Ronaldo has 10 goals in 10 Champions League games for Juve at the Allianz Stadium. Only Lionel Messi (14) has more home goals over the period from the start of the 2018-19 campaign onwards.

 

Borussia Dortmund (3) v (2) Sevilla: Haaland at the double again?

Erling Haaland is at the opposite end of his Champions League journey to Ronaldo but certainly seems to have designs on emulating some of the veteran's great deeds and might even breach new ground this week.

The Dortmund striker has scored a brace in each of his past three Champions League appearances. If he nets another double against Sevilla, he will become the first player in the history of the competition to score twice in four consecutive appearances.

Haaland has 18 goals in 13 Champions League outings overall and appears certain to surpass Harry Kane as the quickest man to 20 in terms of games. The England captain reached the landmark in his 24th appearance.

Dortmund are aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2017 and are unbeaten in seven Champions League matches at Signal Iduna Park (W5 D2).

Sevilla have never gone through in Europe's top competition after losing the first leg of a knockout tie, going down to Real Madrid in 1957-58, Fenerbahce in 2007-08 and Bayern Munich in 2017-18.

Since beating Borussia Monchengladbach 3-0 in 2015, the Andalusian club have lost three out of four against Bundesliga opponents.

Head coach Julen Lopetegui has similarly unhelpful memories of Germany, having lost his only previous Champions League away match in the country 6-1 when he led Porto against Bayern Munich.

Cristiano Ronaldo was named on the substitutes' bench for Juventus' Serie A clash with Lazio on Saturday. 

With an eye on Tuesday's Champions League last-16 second leg against Porto, who hold a 2-1 lead from the first match, Andrea Pirlo opted to rest his talisman. 

Ronaldo is the leading scorer in Serie A this season with 20 goals and has netted four in his last three games. 

Speaking at his pre-match media conference on Friday, Pirlo hinted that 36-year-old Ronaldo might be suffering from fatigue. 

"When you play a lot of games, a day or two of rest is good," Pirlo said. "It also applies to Cristiano. 

"Now that we are short up front, he has gritted his teeth and will do it for as long as we need it. He has shown and continues to demonstrate his great professionalism."

Juve, who were 10 points behind leaders Inter ahead of kick-off, opted for Alvaro Morata and Dejan Kulusevski in attack.

 

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