Ronaldo upbeat about erasing 2-0 deficit

TURIN • Cristiano Ronaldo has urged his teammates "to give a great response in our home" with Juventus' hopes of a first Champions League trophy since 1996 hanging by a thread.

The seven-time defending Italian champions trail 2-0 to Spanish side Atletico Madrid going into the second leg of their last-16 tie at the Allianz Stadium in Turin today.

The Portugal forward told Juventus TV: "We didn't expect to lose the first leg 2-0, but anything can happen, and we want to give a great response... in front of our fans.

"The team is confident of playing a great game and I am, too. To the fans, I say, 'Think positive, let's believe, get ready to come back'."

Expectations are high that he can reproduce his improbable hat-trick, which lifted Real Madrid past Wolfsburg in April 2016 with the Spanish giants 2-0 down to the German side after the first leg.

Juventus also have a history of bouncing back in European football's top-tier competition, having overcome a deficit eight times, including the 1996 quarter-finals against Real on their way to winning their second European Cup.

However, Ronaldo, the top scorer in the Champions League for the last six seasons, has scored just once in this year's competition and his task will not get any easier with Atletico's miserly backline yet to concede in their past five games.

Diego Simeone's men have also let in only 17 goals this season - the fewest of any team in LaLiga.

Meanwhile, Schalke will travel to Manchester City for the second leg of their last-16 tie with the axe hanging over coach Domenico Tedesco and confidence at rock bottom.

While the German Bundesliga side put up a creditable showing in the first leg, with City needing two late goals to win 3-2, their fortunes have since nosedived, leaking 11 goals in three league defeats to leave them four points above the relegation places.

Tedesco has already been given an ultimatum by new sporting director Jochen Schneider, with his future resting on the results of the Etihad meeting and a home game with Leipzig on Saturday.

But the German-Italian is unlikely to get much respite against Pep Guardiola's men, who have won their last nine games at home.

Schalke's Austria striker Guido Burgstaller insisted that the squad are still behind Tedesco, although he admitted "hard times are waiting for us" given the team's abysmal form this season.

He said: "No points, no big improvement.

"Things won't get easier, we have to be prepared for that."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

JUVENTUS V ATLETICO

Singtel TV Ch112 & StarHub Ch213, tomorrow, 3.55am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline 'Ronaldo upbeat about erasing 2-0 deficit'. Print Edition | Subscribe