The Bianconeri have not impressed the purists this season but they won't care as long as they end their 23-year wait for Champions League glory

Monday, 15th April 2019 03:30:00 AM

"Ajax are a very different team to us," he explained. "They are more attacking and aggressive."

And that is primarily down to Ronaldo, with the draw in Amsterdam an obvious case in point.

Yet they claimed a draw, almost inevitably thanks to Ronaldo.

On that occasion, Juves game plan was simple but effective: provide crosses for Ronaldo.

It worked a treat, too, with the No.7 netting two headers in a stirring comeback in Turin. He bagged another in Amsterdam.

Of even greater significance than Ronaldos remarkable aerial threat, though, is the fact that no other player has scored for the Old Lady in the knockout stage.

Of course, he was blessed with a fine supporting cast – Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are all world-class performers – but goals win games and that made Ronaldo the star of the show.

He scored a staggering 50 times for Madrid in the knockout stage alone. Its no coincidence then, that Ronaldo-less Real are already out of this seasons competition, while new club Juve are on course for the semis.

Whether Ronaldo retains the Champions League is open to debate, though.

Arrigo Sacchi is among those who believe that Bianconeri boss Allegri is too conservative, too pragmatic, to triumph in Europe.

Juves dreadfully subdued second-half showing at Atletico – which Allegri admitted himself was "ugly" – provided the most compelling evidence to date that Sacchi may have been right.

The feeling is that its not that Juve cant cut loose, but that theyre not allowed to, and it is significant that the finest performance of Allegris reign was arguably last year’s 3-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, where they had been left with no option but to attack after a 3-0 first-leg loss.

As former Juve defender Medhi Benatia said after his January exit, "Allegri has done well in Italy and also in the Champions League. We’re talking about a coach who understands football, but I don’t know if he’s the right one to win in Europe."

With Ronaldo, though, anything is possible. He almost guarantees goals and can, thus, be decisive in any situation, for any team.

Of course, the Blaugrana had a once-in-a-lifetime generation of players who shaped and defined an entire era of football under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola. Zinedine Zidanes Real Madrid did nothing of the sort.

Yet while they may not have been widely revered, they were certainly respected. Say what you will about Sergio Ramos & Co. but they were winners.

Thats all serial Champions League losers Juve want to be, having endured defeat in five consecutive finals.

So, while their teams play may not be beautiful, most Juve fans are unconcerned with aesthetics.

As far as they are concerned, not winning the Champions League for 23 years is a worse look than playing ugly football.

They wont care how they do it; as long as they do it.

As Juve legend Giampiero Boniperti famously said of the club culture, "Winning isnt important; its the only thing that counts."

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