Ronaldo 'proved his worth' in Juventus win, says Pirlo

By Sports Desk February 02, 2021

Cristiano Ronaldo "proved his worth" in Juventus' 2-1 win over Inter on Tuesday, according to head coach Andrea Pirlo.

Ronaldo was rested for Juve's previous Coppa Italia win – against SPAL last month – but netted a brace in the first leg of the semi-final victory over Inter at San Siro.

The Portuguese star has scored the most braces of players in Europe's top five leagues with eight in all competitions this season.

Pirlo praised Ronaldo, who was replaced by Alvaro Morata with 13 minutes remaining.

"He played an excellent match and proved his worth," Pirlo said.

On substituting Ronaldo, Pirlo added: "He is playing a lot and we have many matches very close to each other.

"Saturday we will have a very important one against Roma, so I thought it would be good for him to rest and recover some energies."

Ronaldo's double came after Lautaro Martinez had opened the scoring for Inter, who beat Juve in Serie A action last month.

Pirlo, whose team won the Supercoppa Italiana against Napoli in January, said his side learned from the league outing against Inter.

"We weren't in the championship match, but it served us as a lesson, because we gathered together and the victory in the Supercoppa made us realise we can compete for every objective. We haven't done anything yet, we just won the first leg," he said.

"We have prepared the game well and if we are focused and have the right attitude it becomes hard for everyone, even though we know that it is not easy to maintain this pace by playing every three days.

"However, the squad is large and there is no problem in alternating players. In the second half we lowered ourselves a bit, also thanks to Inter, but it's normal in the 90 minutes."

Before next week's semi-final second leg, Juve host Roma in Serie A on Saturday.

Related items

  • Barcelona 'waiting for Bayern's response' after Lewandowski bid Barcelona 'waiting for Bayern's response' after Lewandowski bid

    Barcelona have made a bid for Robert Lewandowski but are yet to hear back from Bayern Munich, Joan Laporta has revealed.

    Lewandowski emerged as a top target for the Blaugrana towards the end of the 2021-22 season, having enjoyed another outstanding campaign at Bayern.

    The forward, who turns 34 next month, scored 50 goals in all competitions to lead all players across Europe's top five leagues.

    He also topped the charts in netting once every 80 minutes on average.

    Lewandowski has made clear he would be open to a move to Barca, but progress has been slow while the club have wrapped up other signings.

    Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen were presented at Camp Nou on consecutive days this week, with Barcelona president Laporta insisting there would be no further incoming business until the club had addressed their financial situation.

    That is not the only reason Lewandowski is not yet a Barca player, though, as Laporta suggested the ball remained in Bayern's court – even if the Bundesliga champions have publicly stated a desire to keep their star man.

    "You know we've made an offer for Lewandowski, and we're waiting for Bayern's response," the president said at Christensen's news conference on Thursday.

    "I want to thank the player for his gestures to come. [Bayern] must be evaluating the offer, and we are waiting for the answer."

    Laporta was also again asked about Cristiano Ronaldo, as he had been when appearing alongside Kessie the previous day.

    The Barca chief was reluctant to discuss Ronaldo specifically but had not been surprised by links to the wantaway Manchester United forward, who spent nine years at rivals Real Madrid.

    "We have the great luck that most players want to come to Barca," Laporta said. "When the possibility opens, they consider it and get excited.

    "We have seen this, and we have this great luck – for our history, the players we have had and what we have achieved.

    "I don't go into names, I'm talking in general. There are great players who are in big clubs, but when there is the option of Barca, they consider it.

    "Barca is still very attractive, and the credibility and illusion have returned. The proof is that players like Christensen want to continue their sporting career at Barca.

    "We will return to normal and go into the transfer market with greater guarantees of success."

  • Porter and Freeman set for England debuts in second Australia Test Porter and Freeman set for England debuts in second Australia Test

    Uncapped pair Guy Porter and Tommy Freeman will make their England debuts after they were named in Eddie Jones' starting XV for the second Test against Australia.

    The tourists will also hand a first start to Tigers scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet as they ring the chances for the must-win encounter against the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday.

    Despite a man advantage after Darcy Swain's first-half dismissal in Perth, Jones' side slid to a 30-28 loss at Optus Stadium last weekend in their first encounter.

    That has prompted a flurry of changes from the Australian, in what some may see as a risky gamble as he seeks to level the three-match series in what could be humid winter conditions in Queensland.

    Leicester title-winning centre Porter will make his bow, while Freeman – who featured last month in an uncapped game against the Barbarians – will make his international debut proper.

    Sam Underhill moves up to take the place of Tom Curry, who has been ruled out of the rest of the tour through concussion, while Owen Farrell has been retained at inside centre.

    "We have decided to make changes in our backline, they were tough calls, but we feel they will strengthen the team," Jones said. "There are opportunities to attack against Australia which we can take."

    Australia meanwhile have been forced into a slate of swaps, through Swain's suspension and Tom Banks' injury, with Matt Philip in for the former and Jordan Petaia moved to full-back to cover the latter's absence.

    In a significant boost, prop Taniela Tupou is back, and makes a like-for-like change with the injured Allan Ala'alatoa.

    Australia team: Petaia, Wright, Paisami, Kerevi, Koroibete, Lolesio, White; Bell, Porecki, Tupou, Philip, Neville, Leota, Hooper, Valetini.

    Replacements: Fainga'a, Sio, Slipper, Frost, Samu, Gordon, O'Connor, Perese.

    England team: Steward, Nowell, Porter, Farrell, Freeman, Smith, Van Poortvliet; Genge, George, Stuart, Itoje, Hill, Lawes, Underhill, B Vunipola.

    Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Heyes, Chessum, Ludlam, Willis, Care, Arundell.

  • Williamson out to prove he is a winner by helping New Orleans Pelicans to NBA title Williamson out to prove he is a winner by helping New Orleans Pelicans to NBA title

    Zion Williamson received the ultimate present on his 22nd birthday. 

    As a thank you, he wants to deliver a championship to the New Orleans Pelicans. 

    Williamson officially signed his five-year, $231million rookie max extension with the Pelicans at a YMCA in New Orleans where he was hosting a camp.  

    He signed the deal on Wednesday, the same day he turned 22, and sitting alongside Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon, executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin and coach Willie Green, Williamson – not surprisingly – said this is the number one birthday he has ever had. 

    "For the Pelicans to give me this birthday gift, I'm not going to let them down," Williamson said. 

    A year ago on his birthday, Williamson found out he broke his foot forcing him to miss the entire 2021-22 season. Now that he has been cleared to play, he has lofty goals. 

    "I want to prove that I'm a winner, it's as simple as that," he said. "The ultimate goal is to win a championship. And I feel like that's what we're all striving for." 

    The Pelicans made the playoffs this past season without Williamson and took the No. 1 seed Phoenix Suns to six games before being ousted. 

    With Williamson in the fold, the hope is he can help the franchise take the next step. 

    "It's gonna all come together at some point throughout the course of the season," Green said. "And when it does, I think we can be a scary team."

    Williamson has only appeared in a mere 85 games since being the top pick of the 2019 NBA draft, but he has been outstanding when healthy, averaging 25.7 points, 7 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting just over 60 per cent. 

    Since his rookie season, Williamson has been instrumental to New Orleans' success. The Pelicans have won 47.1 per cent of their games while averaging 116.4 points in the 85 games Williamson has played, compared to winning 40.4 per cent of the games and an average of 111.1 points in the contests he has missed.  

    "Adding [Zion] back on the court with the group that we have is going to be a lot of fun but also really dangerous for the entire league and all of the 29 teams that have to face us night in and night out," Langdon said. "We are incredibly excited about that."

    Suiting up alongside Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, Williamson gives the Pelicans another scoring threat making the offense even more dangerous. New Orleans' offense thrived after acquiring McCollum last February, averaging 115.9 points after the trade compared to an average of 105.9 points in their first 54 games. 

    "We have an opportunity to be able to run toward sustained success for quite a long time," Griffin said. "We're young, we're talented, and most importantly – we are very hungry." 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.