CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Nedved: "Whenever you need Cristiano Ronaldo, he's there"

Juventus will meet Olympique Lyon in the Last 16 of the Champions League and Pavel Nedved is glad Cristiano Ronaldo is back at full fitness.

Nedved: "Whenever you need Cristiano Ronaldo, he's there"
MASSIMO PINCA REUTERS

Juventus vice president Pavel Nedved thinks Cristiano Ronaldo will be instrumental in spearheading the team's Champions League campaign now that the forward is back at full fitness. Cristiano bagged a brace in Sunday's 3-1 Serie A win over Udinese as the title holders ended the weekend level on 39 points with Inter Milan at the top of the standings.

Cristiano's mini goal drought

The 34-year-old had failed to find the target in four of Juve's games during November amid injury problems and a rumoured unhappiness with coach Maurizio Sarri, who took him off in the games against Lokomotiv Moscow and AC Milan.

However, Nedved thinks the former Real Madrid star is now back to full form and fitness, as evidenced by his performance against Udinese, in which he combined with Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuaín to devastating effect. And Nedved hopes Cristiano can make the difference when Juve face Lyon in the last 16 of the Champions League in 2020.

"He is a champion and when he's needed, he's always there," Nedved said of Cristiano Ronaldo after Monday's draw. "He had some physical problems and is now back in good form. It's nice to see Cristiano, Dybala and Higuain all playing together, and they can all be on the pitch at once if all three run and sacrifice themselves like they did yesterday against Udinese. The coach naturally evaluates the state of form of each one when he makes his choices and, at the moment, they are all in form and you can see it."

Cristiano Ronaldo

Champions League - an objective not an obsession for Juventus

Nedved believes the draw was a positive one for Juve, although he acknowledges Sarri's side must not allow their form to drop in the run-up to the Lyon tie, with the first leg taking place in France on 26 February. "We can't complain, considering that last year we drew Atlético [Madrid], but if you're not in form when the Champions League comes back around between February and March, there is little that you can do," he said. "The precedents are favourable to us, but they do not count for anything - only the form in the moment counts.The Champions League must not be an obsession but a concrete goal. We, like other teams, want to win the final, but in the Champions League, one mistake can send you out."