Re-Juve-nation? Record-chaser Cristiano Ronaldo admits Juventus needed confidence as cup win follows latest league setback (VIDEO)
Cristiano Ronaldo may have broken another record to become the top goal scorer in the history of football as Juventus won the Italian Super Cup, but the phenomenal striker accepts the club's title hopes are firmly in the balance.
Ronaldo struck with less than half an hour of the showpiece remaining to break the deadlock against Napoli, although Juve survived a scare when Lorenzo Insigne missed a penalty before Alvaro Morata scored with the last kick of the game to ensure boss Andrea Pirlo won his first trophy as a manager.
That goal alone could represent a cause of celebration for Ronaldo, as some statisticians say it puts him one goal ahead of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Josef Bican as the highest scorer of all time.
Official FIFA figures show that the Czech legend remains 45 goals ahead of Ronaldo, on 805, and there is an ongoing debate over Pele's questionable claim to have scored more than 1,000 goals - but Ronaldo is more concerned about his misfiring side's chances of failing to win the Italian Serie A for the first time since 2011.
There was an element of relief to the cup final win after Juventus lost 2-0 at Inter Milan on Sunday, leaving them languishing seven points behind their second-placed title rivals and a mammoth 10 points short of leaders AC Milan, on whom they have a game in hand.
A defeat at the San Siro is not necessarily an indication of demise, but the result brought an abrupt halt to a run of three league wins - including a much-needed 3-1 win at Milan - since a disastrous 3-0 home defeat against Fiorentina in their final game of 2020.
“We showed a different attitude to the bad performance against Inter," Ronaldo told RAI Sport after collecting his fourth trophy since he joined from Real Madrid in 2018.
"That is the past, this is a very important trophy and we hope this can give the team more confidence going into the future.
“We are very happy with the win. It was difficult, especially as the pitch was terrible, but we got it done.
“Milan and Inter are very strong but I believe we have what it takes to win. It’s going to be very difficult, but I believe the Scudetto [Italian title] is still possible.”
The incredible @Cristiano has scored his 760th career goal tonight, overtaking Josef Bican as the highest goal scorer in the history of football. What an achievement. 👏🏻👏🏻— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) January 20, 2021
Pele scored 40 against his son in the back garden so still some way to go— martin (@martin87137369) January 20, 2021
Legendary Italy midfielder Pirlo, who has faced criticism in his first senior managerial role, said he felt "great joy" and described winning a cup as a coach as "different".
"I think [it is] even better than as a player, because I am leading such a great squad and at an historic club," he purred. "It’s wonderful.
“It’s rare that two teams play well in a final. The important thing is to win. When you play with this determination, then luck can go on your side.
How can anyone put Messi above Cristiano is beyond me. Cristiano has proved himself all over the world, domestically and internationally. His record speaks for itself. No brainer!— Shammas Anwar (@shammas_anwar) January 20, 2021
Having watched football for 30 years I cannot fathom why anyone thinks Ronaldo is a better individual footballer than Messi! The guy is awesome of course. A great athlete, goalscorer and perhaps the best off the ball movement I've seen...but Messi is just better overall!— Laurie Newton (@mrnice1892) January 21, 2021
Because scoring the most goals doesn’t make you the greatest player. Being the greatest player does. Which is Messi— Jammy Wise (@WiseJammy) January 20, 2021
“We wanted to prove that we are not the team seen against Inter, so when you play with this grit, determination and attitude, you draw luck your way.
“Since the start of the season we’ve been trying to play this fluid style of football, but unfortunately every week someone is missing, so it’s difficult for us to keep the same line-up with any regularity.
“After the game the other night, we didn’t deserve that much criticism considering all we’ve done this season - so I am glad they got this trophy tonight.”Also on rt.com Air Force Ron: Cristiano Ronaldo stuns fans with gravity-defying leap as he sets ANOTHER goalscoring landmark (VIDEO)
“[Scrutiny is] part of the game. It’s easy to build people up and knock them down. I’m used to it, though, as I had ups and downs in a very long playing career.
"I know there’s a solid club behind me, so I can focus and continue doing my work.
"It’s natural there is going to be criticism when you come from nowhere to lead Juventus, but the results will speak for me and the team.”Also on rt.com ‘He needs to chill’: More mockery for Pele as football legend personally responds in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi goals saga