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Ronaldo leaves stadium early after being substituted

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After Juventus’ 1-0 win over AC Milan yesterday night, it was reported by Sky Sports Italia that Cristiano Ronaldo left the Allianz Stadium before the match had even finished after Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri substituted the attacker for the second match in a row. The reports have sparked rumours of a divide between Ronaldo and Sarri after Ronaldo was seen to be saying something to Sarri before storming down the tunnel. We’ve looked at the incident and some of the factors that need to be considered.

It was a tactical decision

At the time of the substitution, the score was 0-0 and Juventus were in danger of losing top spot of the Serie A table after Inter’s 2-1 win over Hellas Verona on Saturday. So the decision to bring on an inform Paulo Dybala who had scored 3 goals in Juventus’ previous 5 games made sense from Sarri with his side needing to score if they wanted to return to the top of Serie A. The substitution paid off as it was Dybala who scored the only goal of the game 22 minutes after coming onto the pitch. When on the pitch, Ronaldo wasn’t displaying his best form as he was responsible for losing possession on multiple occasions as well as being wasteful in the final third.

It was unprofessional

If the reports from Sky Sports Italia are true and Ronaldo did leave the Allianz Stadium before the final whistle, then Ronaldo acted in an incredibly unprofessional manner and showed complete disrespect to: his manager, his teammates, his club and the Juventus fans. Of course, Ronaldo is an immensely talented player but that doesn’t excuse him from substitutions if his manager decides it’s the best decision for the team, especially considering the quality of the players available at Juventus, such as Dybala.

When asked about Ronaldo’s exit from the pitch, Sarri said, “All players who are trying to give their best will have at least five minutes of being annoyed when they are substituted, but a coach would in general be much more worried if he didn’t seem upset.” It’s understandable for Sarri to publicly defend Ronaldo and keep the matter behind closed doors away from the media, but you wouldn’t blame him in the slightest for being angry at Ronaldo after the way he acted.

He was injured

When Sarri was asked about Ronaldo after the game he hinted that Ronaldo was suffering from an injury and the decision to substitute him off was made for that reason.

“I have no problem with Cristiano, he should be thanked because he made himself available despite not being in the best condition,” said Sarri.

This quote from Sarri implies that there is no personal issues between himself and Ronaldo, but if Ronaldo was suffering from an injury, it doesn’t excuse his behaviour after he left his pitch and leaving the stadium early, as he could receive treatment for his injury inside the stadium.