Playing with Ronaldo 'like being 1-0 ahead', recalls Szczesny

By Sports Desk June 20, 2022

Wojciech Szczesny says playing with Cristiano Ronaldo made him feel like his side were starting matches a goal up, as he rued Juventus' failure to win the Champions League with the Portugual great.

Ronaldo scored 101 goals in 134 appearances in all competitions for Juve between 2018 and 2021, averaging a strike every 113.95 minutes and winning five trophies in Italy.

Juve stumbled to a second consecutive fourth-placed Serie A finish in the 2021-22 season after Ronaldo returned to Manchester United, who themselves toiled in the Premier League, finishing sixth with their worst points tally (58) in the competition, despite the striker's 18 top-flight goals.

Ronaldo failed to add to his five Champions League titles while representing the Bianconeri, and while Szczesny regrets their European exits to Ajax (2019), Lyon (2020) and Porto (2021), he remembers his time playing with the striker fondly.

"[He is] a brilliant footballer, who makes a difference not only on the pitch," Szczesny told Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy. "I don't know if there is anyone in the world at his level. 

"When he arrived, however, we didn't see him as a CR7, but as a team-mate. With him, however, I tried things that didn't exist. 

"Entering the field with him, even before the referee whistled for the start, it was like being 1-0 ahead. It was impressive.

"The Champions League was within our reach in the first two seasons, then we went out with teams we shouldn't have lost against. But this is the Champions League."

While Juventus' spell of dominance over Serie A has come crashing to a halt over the last two seasons after they won nine consecutive titles between 2012 and 2020, Szczesny believes Massimiliano Allegri and predecessor Andrea Pirlo did well to secure top-four finishes.

"Sooner or later, it had to end," he said. "After nine years of victories there was a generational change of players. 

"Changing always costs something. However, I believe that Pirlo and Allegri have done a great job getting to Champions League qualification."

Szczesny has made 137 league appearances for Juve since joining in 2017, keeping 50 clean sheets, and is keen to remain in Turin until his contract expires in 2025.

However, the former Arsenal goalkeeper does not expect to get close to the legendary Gianluigi Buffon's tally of 489 Serei A games in the Juventus goal, saying a move to Spain could be on the cards in three years' time.

"I still have three years on my contract and if they want to keep me, I would like to complete it," he added. "Every year there are market rumours, now I worry when new names do not come out for Juventus' goal!

"I won't play as much as he [Buffon] does. I want to stay at Juventus until 2025, then maybe I'll go to Spain where I have a home."

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