Cristiano Ronaldo a Doubt for Champions League 1st Leg vs. Ajax with Injury

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIMarch 29, 2019

TURIN, ITALY - MARCH 12: Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus shows his dejection during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Juventus and Club de Atletico Madrid at Allianz Stadium on March 12, 2019 in Turin, . (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo has emerged as a doubt for Juventus' UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg against Ajax due to a muscle injury picked up on international duty with Portugal.

The 34-year-old has been left out of the Juventus squad for Saturday's Serie A clash against Empoli, and manager Massimiliano Allegri told a press conference his team must be careful with the forward:

"We need to be prudent. It's best if he misses one game rather than two months of the season. We're heading into the final stages of the season and there's not much time to recover, and we've still got two Champions League games to play.

"Ronaldo will return when there is no longer any risk of a setback. He'll undergo tests on Monday and we'll take it from there. Obviously, he's a doubt for the first leg, and Cristiano knows full well that if he's not fit, he won't play because we cannot risk the season in just one game."

Juventus have a busy schedule after returning to action following the international break. The Italian champions play Empoli, Cagliari and AC Milan in Serie A before their first-leg clash against Ajax on April 10.

Allegri may not be too concerned about Ronaldo missing the team's upcoming league fixtures, as Juventus have a 15-point lead at the top of the table and look destined to retain their title.

However, he will be eager for the Portuguese star to feature against Ajax. Ronaldo was primarily brought to Turin to help the club claim success in Europe having won the Champions League five times in his career.

Ronaldo is also the competition's all-time top goalscorer and possesses an incredible scoring record:

UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague

Cristiano Ronaldo's record in the #UCL = 🔥🔥🔥 ⚽️1⃣2⃣4⃣ 👕1⃣6⃣0⃣ ⚪️⚫️ @Cristiano 👏👏👏 https://t.co/iatUpJRCTz

His importance to the team was highlighted in the last 16. Juventus were beaten 2-0 in the first leg by Atletico Madrid, but they came back to win 3-2 on aggregate thanks to a Ronaldo hat-trick in the return fixture.  

Ajax will provide a stiff test in the quarter-finals. The Dutch side knocked out holders Real Madrid in the last 16 and have a team packed full of young stars such as Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and David Neres.

Ronaldo has sought to play down concerns over his fitness:

Optus Sport @OptusSport

"I am not worried, I know my body. It happens, it's football ... I am fine because I know I will come back in one or two weeks." Ronaldo exited #PORSRB through injury, but has calmed the nerves of Juventus fans just 16 days out from their #UCL clash with Ajax. #OptusSport https://t.co/Llwh5QlCyq

He will have a fitness test on Monday, which may give a further indication of whether he will be fit in time:

JuventusFC @juventusfcen

🎙 #Allegri: On Monday, @Cristiano will take some health exams and @douglascosta will take them too in order to resume at full health for the #UCL. @Mattia_desci is available, @Cuadrado will be in about 10 days. For @SamiKhedira, we will see next week #JuveEmpoli

Juventus will now look to Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Federico Bernardeschi to provide the attacking inspiration against Empoli, while 19-year-old Moise Kean will hope for more game time after scoring his first international goal for Italy against Liechtenstein on Tuesday.