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Ronaldo & Dzeko earn top billing from Serie A rival Skriniar

09:00 IST 16/05/2019
Cristiano Ronaldo Milan Skriniar Juventus Inter 2018-19
The Inter defender admits that superstar forwards at Juventus and Roma are among the toughest opponents he has faced in his career to date

Cristiano Ronaldo and Edin Dzeko have caused defenders plenty of problems down the years, with Inter’s Milan Skriniar the latest to talk up their obvious qualities.

Two experienced frontmen are currently turning out in Serie A at Juventus and Roma.

Both are now into their 30s, but are showing no sign of slowing down.

Ronaldo and Dzeko have been prolific presences in the final third across their respective careers, with the 2018-19 campaign seeing them remain a regular source of goals.

Skriniar is among those to have been charged with the task of trying to keep them quiet, with the Slovakia international centre-half admitting that is easier said than done.

He told Goal and DAZN when asked to pick out his toughest opponents: “I don’t really know who the strongest is, because they are all different.

“Ronaldo, for example, was very fast and would fight for every ball.

“So it’s tough to single one out as the strongest.

“This season, though, maybe Dzeko was the toughest to mark, because he’s strong physically and he was the one that caused us the most trouble.

“Especially in the first half during that second game [a 1-1 draw on April 20]. Then in the second half we managed to close him down.

“Every now and then I also watch videos of the opposition strikers, so I can see where they like to go, see what their strengths and weaknesses are.

“But in the end I need to concentrate on my own performance.”

Skriniar has shown himself to be more than a match for the finest forwards on the planet, with the commanding defender having come a long way in a short space of time.

He made a slow start to his spell in Italy, after joining Sampdoria in January 2016, but is now one of the most sought-after centre-halves in world football.

Asked if he could have predicted such a rapid rise to prominence, Skriniar said: “No, definitely not.

“I always wanted to play for a great club like I am today, but especially after those six months where I didn’t play much, it wasn’t easy.

“But I always believed that one day everything can change and in the end that day came.

“I think that I can still get better.”

Inter will be hoping that there is even more to come from Skriniar, with the 24-year-old having endeared himself to those at San Siro despite being called Milan.

Asked if fans have asked him to change his name, he said: “Many times!

“At the start, when I had just joined from Sampdoria, it was a disaster.

“But now I don’t think they have a problem with it anymore, they’ve gotten used to calling me Milan.”