Cristiano Ronaldo returns for Juventus in Wednesday´s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Ajax in Amsterdam, a tie between two grand European names that is also an enticing repeat of the 1996 final.
Ronaldo suffered a thigh injury playing for Portugal late last month and has not featured for Juventus since netting a stunning hat-trick to dump out Atletico Madrid in the last 16 in early March, missing his club´s last four Serie A matches.
“Cristiano has trained with the team and is available. As long as nothing happens tonight or tomorrow morning, he will start,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said on Tuesday evening at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
The return of the competition´s all-time top scorer is a big boost for Juve, who without him have moved to within a point of an eighth straight Serie A title.
“Cristiano looks the same as ever. He´s in good shape, a very important player for us, as everyone knows, and we are happy he´ll be with us,” said defender Daniele Rugani, who is set to start in place of the injured Giorgio Chiellini.
Ronaldo has scored 24 goals for Juve this season and 124 in total in the Champions League, a tournament he has won five times, including in the last three seasons with Real.
His goals in the last 16 rescued Juventus after they lost 2-0 at Atletico in the first leg, and Allegri warned his team not to repeat that performance here. “We cannot think of leaving here without a goal,” he said.
If Ronaldo´s move to Juventus for 100 million euros ($117 million) heralded the end of an era in Madrid, the Spanish side´s reign as kings of Europe was really finished when they were humbled by Ajax in the last round.
The Dutch club recorded a stunning 4-1 win away in the second leg to advance 5-3 on aggregate and reach their first Champions League quarter-final since 2003.