Cristiano Ronaldo may miss out on playing 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 now appears to be a very real possibility.
Juventus’ 3-0 home defeat to AC Milan on Sunday dropped them to fifth place in Serie A, one spot outside the Champions League places, and they now rely on teams above them to drop points in the final 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 and a dangerous, in-form Sassuolo side.
Ronaldo and company must win all three of their remaining games while hoping that Napoli, AC Milan, or Atalanta drop points along the way.
During Juventus’ defeat to AC Milan, the players appear dejected.
Pirlo has been widely chastised for Juventus’ poor form this season, which has included a shock 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, but many questioned the decision to promote him from Juventus’ U23 side just nine days after the dismissal of Maurizio Sarri as head coach of the first team.
“I saw the team in good spirits this week, we had trained with the right concentration and we were convinced we could play a great match,” he told reporters after the game. “However, it was not like that, after a few episodes we became disunited and many things did not work.
Andrea Pirlo has struggled since taking over as head coach of Juventus.
“I knew we were going to run into difficulties, but now we all have to get out of this together. There must always be pride in wearing this shirt and certain performances must not be there. I had a different project in mind, I tried to work according to certain principles, at times we had to adapt, but I am convinced that I have an excellent team at my disposal.
“If something went wrong, I take responsibility for it.”
The season isn’t over yet, with the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta scheduled for May 19.
Ronaldo’s current contract expires at the end of the season, but there are reports that the 36-year-old is eager to return to Sporting. Despite the club’s struggles on the field, Juventus managing director Fabio Paratici insisted earlier this year that the club would “hold on to him.”