Juventus march on but Ronaldo faces further punishment for red card
Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) reacts next to Juventus’ Italian midfielder Federico Bernardeschi after receiving a red card during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Valencia CF and Juventus FC at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on September 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE JORDAN
Ronaldo is among the frontrunners for the prestigious prize, which considers performances during the calendar year, as well as “overall behaviour on and off the pitch.”
He was sent off against Valencia on Wednesday, after aiming a petulant kick at defender Jeison Murillo, before appearing to make contact with his opponent’s head as he gestured to him to get up.
Despite playing for more than an hour with 10 men, Juve were comfortable 2-0 winners at the Estadio Mestalla as Miralem Pjanic converted a pair of penalties either side of half-time.
Ronaldo, however, is yet to discover the full consequences of his dismissal. The 33-year-old was perhaps unfortunate that German referee Felix Brych opted for a red, rather than a yellow, card but there was still risk in engaging with Murillo.
Journalists in charge of voting for the Ballon d’Or might also take note of Ronaldo’s reaction, which saw him fall to the ground in disbelief and then yell into the air in frustration.
It was a bad night in an otherwise stellar 2018 for the Portugese, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid in May and has scored 36 goals in 33 games this year. He has won the Ballon d’Or five times, the joint most with Lionel Messi.
This was Ronaldo’s 11th red card, but first in the Champions League, with a suspension now set to reduce his scoring power in the group stages.
A one-match ban is guaranteed, meaning he will sit out Juve’s game at home to Young Boys on October 2.
UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body can also increase the ban if they deem it a “serious offence”, which could mean him missing the fixtures against Manchester United on October 23 and November 6.
AFP Sport understands, however, that an extension to the one-match ban is unlikely. Juventus would also be allowed to appeal.
The Italian side’s coach Massimiliano Allegri lamented the lack of a Video Assistant Referee against Valencia, which he believes would have spared his key player.
UEFA’s Executive Committee are due to meet in Lyon on September 27, where it is believed the issue of implementing VAR will be discussed.
“I can only say that VAR would’ve helped the referee make the right decision,” Allegri said.
Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi urged UEFA to show leniency. “It was very harsh, I think if you saw the replays, you could see it’s an incomprehensible decision,” Matuidi said.
“So I hope afterwards UEFA will watch the replays and that we can have something positive for him because he does not deserve it.
“He was sad after the match, very sad, and we were all sad for him.”
Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci added: “Ronaldo was quite angry, unfortunately the referee did not see the situation very well. The important thing is we reacted as a team.”