Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri has thanked Cristiano Ronaldo’s mom for ‘creating such a speciman’ and said the club wants to redress the balance after she mentioned a ‘football mafia’ before her son missed out on the Ballon d’Or.
Dolores Aveiro, Cristiano Ronaldo’s mother, watched her son score his 12th goal in nine appearances for Juventus as they swept Roma aside in the Coppa Italia last night, and the words of Maurizio Sarri after the 3-1 home win might have reassured her about Ronaldo’s chances of winning a sixth Ballon d’Or this year.
Speaking before Lionel Messi edged ahead of Ronaldo by winning a sixth Ballon d’Or in Paris in December, Aveiro claimed the Portugal striker deserved the award and had fallen foul of the “football mafia” during his astonishing career.
Sarri now wants to put that right, “Ronaldo is in extraordinary condition right now and is scoring with an impressive pace,” the manager observed after watching his side earn a fifth successive win at the Allianz Stadium.
“He is a champion, one of the strongest of all time and it would be important for us to help him conquer the sixth Golden Ball. It is something that would make us happy.”
Asked whether he had implemented any measures that had led to Ronaldo’s rich run of performances, Sarri spoke of Aveiro.
“I cannot take credit for Ronaldo’s current form,” he admitted, according to Football Italia. “You can only give credit to his mother for creating such a specimen.”
Ronaldo, whose opening goal in the quarter-final was described by the club match report as a “precision masterpiece” of a strike in the 26th minute, has played 90 minutes in all but six of the Serie A leaders’ games this season, missing only eight minutes of their Champions League campaign so far.
Juventus now face what looks like a straightforward run of five matches against sides currently outside the top nine in the table – including two, Brescia and SPAL, sitting in the relegation zone at the moment.
Ronaldo will turn 35 before Juve return to Champions League action with a round of 16 opener at Lyon next month, followed by the potentially crucial visit of second-placed Inter in the league.
He will feel time is of the essence to recapture the trophy he last won in 2017 – and four goals in seven matches at the start of the calendar year is a typical show of intent, even if his mom suspects he needs to do more than his rivals to receive recognition.
“There’s a mafia,” she warned. “That’s the right word to describe it. Yes, there is a football mafia. If you look at everything that has happened, you’ll realise that it’s because of this mafia.
“If he were Spanish or English, they wouldn’t do what they’ve done, but since he’s Portuguese and from Madeira… well, this happens.”
Messi has been on less imperious form for Barcelona recently, scoring three times in six appearances for the club who had the lowest ever points tally to top La Liga at the winter break.
Ronaldo might take less encouragement from the continued prowess of fellow 2019 Ballon d’Or nominee Virgil van Dijk, who is cruising to the Premier League title with a Liverpool side that are far shorter odds than Juve to win the Champions League.