Because we’ve seen him produce so many heroic performances over the years, it was a shock to see Cristiano Ronaldo fail to inspire Juventus at home to FC Porto in the Champions League last-16 earlier this month.
Juve trailed 2-1 from the first leg and were knocked out of the competition on away goals after winning the return leg 3-2.
Ronaldo was heavily criticised for his role in Juve’s defeat. He was part of the dismal wall which resulted in Sergio Oliveira’s dramatic late free-kick finding the back of the net.
Had Ronaldo not turned his back, it’s quite possible that Juventus would be facing Chelsea in the quarter-finals rather than Porto.
“I would never put him [Ronaldo] in the [wall] on free-kicks,” former Juve striker Nicola Amoruso told Sky Sports Italia, per Goal, after the match. “He is afraid of receiving a ball in the face because he cares about his image.“
The 38-year-old was praised by fans and pundits alike after making 18 clearances and winning 100 per cent of his aerial duels.
However, footage has emerged two weeks later showing an interesting conversation between compatriots Pepe and Ronaldo during the match.
In footage posted by UEFA on their official Instagram account – and brought to our attention by Spanish newspaper AS – Ronaldo can be heard telling Pepe: “Play it! I’m going to win and it’ll be with you on the pitch.”
He then repeats: “I’m going to win and it’ll be with you on the pitch.”
Watch the video here…
Considering what then happened, the footage looks rather awkward for Ronaldo now.
Perhaps these were the words that inspired Pepe to produce arguably his best performance in a Porto shirt.
For once, Cristiano was unable to back up his words of confidence by producing the goods on the pitch.
It was Pepe, on this occasion, who ended up having the last laugh.