Cristiano Ronaldo’s red card on his Champions League debut for Juventus in Mestalla has reopened the debate into the political efforts of the Old Lady and Italian football in general in Europe, with the country’s press suggesting that whenever a Serie A side is hard done by on the continent – and those examples abound according to the national media – the authorities are hesitant to mete out the same justice as they are towards other leagues.
On Friday, Corriere dello Sport took up the baton on its front page, using an expression normally reserved for fans of Juve’s rivals to poke fun at the lack of success the perennial Italian champions have enjoyed on the European stage: “Fino al confine (as far as the frontier).”
On this occasion though, Corriere dello Sport used Ronaldo’s expulsion in Mestalla as evidence that Serie A sides routinely find decisions going against them in continental competition while suggesting that Real Madrid enjoy favourable treatment. “Cristiano has quickly realized that he doesn’t have the protection of Madrid anymore,” the paper stated.
Ronaldo's red and Buffon's tears
In Corriere’s opinion, Ronaldo has seen both sides of the coin in recent months, “wearing two shirts and seeing two different measuring rods,” The daily alluding to the controversial penalty award against Juventus against Real Madrid in the Champions League last season, when Medhi Benatia was adjudged to have fouled Lucas Vázquez deep into stoppage time with Juve poised to go through on away goals.
Ronaldo duly dispatched the spot kick in the 98th minute to ensure Madrid’s progression: “On that occasion, it was Gianluigi Buffon left in tears,”Corriere noted of the Juve keeper, who was dismissed for his protests towards referee Michael Oliver.
Ronaldo now faces a ban that could, if Uefa deem the incident to constitute violent conduct, be increased from the mandatory one game to two or three, jeopardizing the Portuguese’s chances of facing his old club, Manchester United. Juventus are planning to appeal against the sending off, citing a “clear error” on the part of the referee, Felix Brych, and his linesman, Marco Fritz.