Cristiano Ronaldo may miss out on competing in the Champions League for the first time in 19 years. The Portuguese superstar hasn’t played in the Europa League – or the UEFA Cup – since he joined his first club, Sporting, in 2002, but that suddenly looks to be a genuine possibility. Juventus’ 3-nil home defeat to AC Milan on Sunday dropped them to the fifth position in Serie A, one position outside the Champions League positions. They now rely on clubs above them to lose points in the remaining three games of the season.
Only three points separate fifth-placed Juventus and second-placed Atalanta, but the Old Lady’s remaining fixtures include newly-crowned champion Inter Milan. Ronaldo and company must win all three of their remaining games while hoping that Napoli, AC Milan, or Atalanta would lose points along the way. Pirlo has been severely chastised for Juventus’ poor play this season, which has included a stunning exit from the Champions League round of 16 to Porto and a failure to win Serie A for the first time in ten years.
This is the 41-year-first old’s managerial position after a distinguished playing career. Still, many questioned the choice to elevate him from Juventus’ U23 side just nine days after the sacking of Maurizio Sarri as head coach of the senior squad.
“I saw the squad in high spirits this week, we had trained with the appropriate concentration, and we were certain we could play a terrific match,” he said after the game to reporters. “However, it was not like that; after a few incidents, we got estranged, and many things failed.”
Conte won three Serie A championships as Turin’s coach between 2011 and 2014, and he led the club as a player, but the Italian is not one to do favors and will love causing additional problems for his old team. Conte and Juve are unquestionably in love. He was obliged to apologize after giving a middle-finger gesture in the direction of Juventus president Andrea Agnelli during an Italian Cup match in February.
Inter have not slowed down since clinching the title two weeks ago, with Conte’s side scoring eight goals in their two consecutive victories.
Juve’s other issue, aside from facing a side unbeaten in their last 20 league matches, is that their top-four rivals have found form at the right time. Napoli, who are fourth and a point ahead of Juventus, has also had a terrific season, relieving pressure on coach Gennaro Gattuso, but they face a difficult journey to Fiorentina on Sunday.
If Juventus fails to qualify for the Champions League, its financial troubles are projected to worsen.
According to Goal, the club lost €113 million in the first half of the 2020-21 fiscal year, and failing to qualify for the lucrative Champions League might aggravate their troubles even further. The Old Lady splashed the cash during the 2018 summer transfer window, breaking their transfer record to buy Cristiano Ronaldo at €117 million.
Maurizio Sarri was fired by Juventus last summer after winning the Serie A title under the Italian manager. The expense of relieving Sarri of his responsibilities was borne by the club, which had signed him to a three-year deal. Andrea Pirlo was considered a less expensive option, but if the cost is missing out on Champions League football for even a season, it is a steep price.
Juventus might lose out on a €90 million revenue influx from the Champions League next season, which would be devastating to the club’s coffers. The epidemic has already had an impact on the club’s revenues in a variety of ways.
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