Cristiano Ronaldo unaffected by Juventus setbacks, says Portugal coach Fernando Santos

Criticism of Cristiano Ronaldo’s performances for Juventus has had no impact on the forward’s morale and he is ready to give 100 per cent for Portugal in their World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan later on Wednesday, head coach Fernando Santos said.

Ronaldo came under fire after Juventus were knocked out in the Champions League last 16 earlier this month by 10-man Porto, who progressed on away goals.

Porto’s decisive goal came from a free-kick that went through the Portugal striker’s legs as he turned in the defensive wall, with the front page of the Corriere dello Sport saying: “Betrayed by Ronaldo”.

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“When Cristiano is with the national team, he always comes with the same vision, the same passion, the same will, the same joy,” Santos said.

“He always gives 100 per cent when he comes to the national team.

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“I don’t think he has any problem in terms of mentality at the moment.”

Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Real Madrid, who he left to join Juve in 2018, by some Spanish media outlets and Santos said he would be happy to talk to him about his future.

“I give advice to Cristiano personally. I was his head coach when he was 18, and we have a close relationship,” Santos said.

“We talk a lot, but these are private conversations between friends. We don’t really have a coach-player relationship, but it is different when he is in the national team. If he asks me for any advice, I will let him know what I think.”

Group A: Can Ronaldo add to his century of goals?

Portugal vs Azerbaijan – 7.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Football red button from 7.40pm

The current European champions will be strong favourites to win a section that also includes Serbia, Republic of Ireland and Luxembourg, starting with this opener against Azerbaijan at the Juventus Stadium.

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Portugal U21
England U21


At least that means star man and captain Cristiano Ronaldo will not have to travel far for the game as the Juventus forward looks to get his hands on the one trophy that has eluded him so far in his glittering career.

And it would be a major surprise if the 36-year-old does not manage to add to his current record-breaking total of 102 goals in just 170 internationals in Turin on Wednesday.

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