Cristiano Ronaldo rejoined his Portugal teammates yesterday ahead of the start of Euro 2020 qualifying this week following a nine-month absence from the national team. The 34-year-old Juventus forward was recalled by Portugal coach Fernando Santos for games at home to Ukraine and Serbia, having not played for his country since the 2018 World Cup.
Ronaldo was rested for the last six Portugal games while he settled at his new club following his departure from Real Madrid last July. The reigning European champions, who are through to the UEFA Nations League final in June, kick off their Group B campaign in Lisbon on Friday against Ukraine before facing Serbia on March 25.
“Cristiano adds quality to any team. It’s a pleasure to play with him and he’s very important for us,” Portugal defender Joao Cancelo, Ronaldo’s teammate at Juventus, told reporters yesterday.
Ronaldo ban would
be ‘crazy’, says Juve
Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s another Juventus teammate Federico Bernardeschi said it would be “crazy” for UEFA to suspend the Portuguese forward for his controversial goal celebration. Ronaldo faces UEFA charges for “improper conduct” after mimicking Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone’s crotch-grabbing gesture after his hat-trick in Juventus’ Champions League comeback win.
“It’s something that I don’t think needs looking at, it (a suspension) would be crazy,” international winger Bernardeschi told a press conference ahead of Italy’s Euro 2020 qualifiers. “I think it’ll end there, it was a celebration, a gesture. I see him calm and relaxed, as we all are. I’m sure everything will be fine.”
Bernadeschi believes Italy can learn from Juventus who came from two goals down in the first leg against Atletico to win the last 16 tie 3-2 on aggregate, and next play Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam in the quarter-finals. “We wrote a piece of history,” said the 25-year-old. “Cristiano is an absolute champion. He gives us so much, he has the charisma of the champion. Staying by his side every day allows you to learn many things.”
Italy begin their Euro 2020 campaign at home against Finland in Udine on Saturday followed by Liechtenstein in Parma on March 26.
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