MADRID (Reuters) – Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon on Tuesday hailed Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo as the most decisive player in the world, a week after the Portuguese scored an outrageous bicycle kick against the veteran goalkeeper in the Champions League.
The Serie A leaders trail 12-times European champions Real 3-0 in their quarter-final tie and need to produce a remarkable performance in Wednesday’s second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu after Ronaldo’s brace and Marcelo’s late strike settled last week’s encounter.
“I don’t know if he is the most complete player because over the years I’ve faced some great footballers but right now he is the most decisive in his position, without a doubt,” Buffon told reporters at a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s game.
“He is remarkable, he’s so consistent, he always scores goals,” added Buffon of Ronaldo, who also scored twice against Juventus in last season’s 4-1 win for Real in the Champions League final.
Ronaldo is the all-time top scorer in the Champions League and has finished as leading marksman in the competition’s last five editions and again leads the way this campaign, with 14 strikes in nine games.
Buffon said in October that he would be ready to leave Juventus at the end of the campaign unless they won the Champions League, meaning Wednesday’s game is likely to be his last in Europe’s elite club competition. He has not made a definitive announcement about his future, however.
“It’s possible, but I won’t be depressed about it,” said the 40-year-old, who has won the last six Serie A titles and the World Cup but never lifted the Champions League despite playing in three finals.
“When I was a child I would have accepted doing everything I have done and retiring at the Bernabeu. I’m going to see the positive side to this situation. The important thing is to try and ensure this isn’t Juve’s last game in the Champions League this season.”
Juventus’s veteran defender Andrea Barzagli has been ruled out of the game through injury while forward Paulo Dybala and midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur are suspended.