Cristiano Ronaldo playing in his Portugal style for Juventus rather than Real Madrid

Chris Bailey 25/08/2018
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The wait for his first Juventus goal continues but Cristiano Ronaldo did get an assist – a rather fortuitous one at that – as Juventus completed an important victory against a stubborn Lazio in the Portugal star’s home debut on Saturday night.

The 33-year-old was full of endeavour to the very end but on this evidence his place in this side very much remains a work in progress, which is no surprise given his decade of uninterrupted service for Real Madrid.

Below we take a look a deep dive into Ronaldo’s performance against one of the best teams Serie A has to offer.

KEY STATS

Goals – 0

Assists – 1

Shots – 5

Shots on target – 3

Passing Accuracy – 90%

Key Passes – 3

Dribbles – 2

Fouled 3

30-SECOND REPORT

Frustrated in the first half but afforded more freedom in the second, Ronaldo’s display was solid if not spectacular. He headed over the bar and tried a long range pop before the break but took the creative burden more upon himself from there on in.

He fizzed a few deliveries that Mario Mandzukic could probably have done better to connect with and there was one turn and long-range shot that Thomas Strakosha did well to keep out.

Strakosha parried what would have been Ronaldo’s first Juventus goal out of his path in the 75th minute, only for the ball to deflect of his heel and Mandzukic to pounce. In characteristic fashion, he threw his arms up in frustration before remembering to congratulate his strike partner …

GOT RIGHT

Application – Welcome to Serie A, Cristiano. To his credit the Portugal star has swiftly found out that being a bully in the box, and occasionally drifting out to the left, does not pay dividends at Juve as much as it did back in Madrid.

Miralem Pjanic is a Toni Kroos-like stud in midfield but Blaise Matuidi, and certainly Sami Khedira, are not the equals of Madrid’s creativity department. Against a fine team like Lazio, Ronaldo became a deeper outlet in the attacking third reminiscent of his displays with Portugal, offering the ‘ball before the final ball’ while he hared into the area.

That he played more passes (30) than fellow forward Mandzukic (28) and Federico Bernardeschi (15 before subbed) tells you all you need to know.

GOT WRONG

Physicality – Of course, there is a trade off when a striker drops deep. According to Opta, Ronaldo took just one touch in the box in the first half. For a player who had forced the predatory Gonzalo Higuain out of Turin, without even mentioning the accompanying price tag, it falls well short of requirements.

He improved after the break and drove into danger zones a few more times, delivering some threatening crosses. But for a man who prides himself on maintaining the physique of a gladiator – he could at least throw a little bit of his muscle about.

VERDICT

Ronaldo was more dangerous against Chievo but, taking the name out of it, he was still the most threatening player on the pitch against a top Italian side, and grew in stature as the game wore on.

It is, however, becoming more evident that Ronaldo will find goals a little harder to come by in Italy given that the art of defending is far more appreciated in the country and Juventus’ midfield, while gifted, is a tier below Real’s.

RATING – 7/10

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Icon of Turin: Cristiano Ronaldo.

A world-record 80,000 spectators turned up at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2009 to witness Cristiano Ronaldo‘s unveiling as a Real Madrid player. The audience surpassed that which greeted Diego Maradona upon his arrival at Napoli 25 years earlier.

In many ways, it was the highlight of Ronaldo’s complicated relationship with the Bernabeu faithful. He was the latest recipient of the prestigious Ballon d’Or, recognising him as the world’s best player and making him all the more appealing to the Madridistas.

Having watched as Pep Guardiola assembled an unstoppable force at Barcelona, Madrid needed to respond and following his exploits at Manchester United, including a Champions League triumph, Ronaldo fitted the bill. Above all though, he was meant to be their answer to Lionel Messi.

The bar was set impossibly high from the outset but Ronaldo consistently met expectations with his output, pushing the envelope even further and smashing numerous records along the way. But the Bernabeu is an unforgiving arena and its demanding occupants will tolerate no less than complete domination over every opponent which enters their lair.

If you had to engineer the perfect modern day forward, Ronaldo would be the closest thing, but despite his incredible ability and phenomenal returns, he was not immune to the fans’ – often irrational – discontent. He won four more Ballon d’Or titles during his nine-year stay at Madrid, yet endured many more occasions when his own supporters turned against him.

Why don't you love me? Ronaldo wasn't always in favour among Madrid fans.

Why don’t you love me? Ronaldo wasn’t always in favour among Madrid fans.

For a player so revered and celebrated at Old Trafford, and one with an ego boosted by his countless accomplishments, it never sat well. Despite the numerous accolades, Ronaldo never felt fully appreciated at the club and sought to seek recognition in financial terms instead.

The Portuguese often voiced his sadness ahead of new contract negotiations or even refused to celebrate after scoring, claiming he didn’t feel like it because he wasn’t happy. The fact he isn’t Spanish always meant the fans kept him at arm’s length as well and rumours of disputes with the likes of Sergio Ramos would see the media turn against him.

For one reason or another, Ronaldo never felt completely at home in Madrid, often reminiscing about his time at United.

It’s no wonder then that it was the applause from opposing fans last season which seemed to evoke a sense of allegiance in Ronaldo that for a long time was dormant. His extraordinary bicycle kick goal against Juventus during the Champions League quarter-final first leg in Turin was greeted by a standing ovation from the home support.

“When I was a kid, I liked Juventus and the fact that their fans have applauded me will stay with me,” Ronaldo said when reflecting on the goal.

The 33-year-old has since admitted that it played a big part in his decision to join the Serie A giants.

“I would say what I saw in the stadium helped [the transfer],” Ronaldo said upon his unveiling as DAZN’s first Global Ambassador.

It’s somewhat poetic that arguably his finest moment in a Madrid shirt would initiate his move away from the club.

Ronaldo received a royal reception when he landed in Italy over the summer to complete his transfer with fans lining up for a glimpse of their new hero as they immediately embraced him as one of their own.

But while the Old Lady may be delighted with his arrival this summer, Turin could so easily have been his home 15 years ago. Juventus were reportedly among the clubs interested in signing him from Sporting Lisbon before his move to United. However, Marcelo Salas’ refusal to move in the other direction derailed an initial agreement for the transfer.

In light of that, Ronaldo’s homecoming this weekend when Juventus host Lazio is well overdue. His Allianz Stadium bow marks the beginning of what could be a lifelong relationship with the Bianconeri fans. The forward is determined to repay the faith they have already shown in him and with their backing, he will be spurred on to prolong his career at the highest level.

After a volatile relationship with the Madridistas over the years, Ronaldo will relish the prospect of being loved and adored. It could be the start of a beautiful friendship and in Turin, he may just feel at home again.

Perhaps Nike’s enormous billboard on the side of a building in Turin’s Piazza Vittorio Veneto says it best as the player attempts to make a fresh start in more comfortable surroundings, amidst accepting fans.

After listing Ronaldo’s numerous feats, the final line simply concludes: “Now forget everything, and start again.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo sets an example for other players ahead of home debut

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Managing a superstar: Allegri and Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo is poised for his home debut as Juventus host Lazio in Serie A on Saturday night.

The Portuguese forward made his bow in last week’s 3-2 win at Chievo but will feature in front of his own fans for the first time.

Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri has praised the 33-year-old for improving the standard at the club following his big-money move from Real Madrid in the summer.

“Cristiano Ronaldo trains very competitively, he takes nothing for granted and is a champion, building his own success over the years through hard work and sacrifice,” Allegri told the club’s official website.

“He is a great example for the younger players and he raises our overall quality.

“Ronaldo is bringing a great enthusiasm to Italian football, I see all the people that are waiting outside Continassa, but regardless of the excitement we still have to win games.

“We haven’t won anything just by signing him, we have to show that on the pitch.”

Juve have won Serie A for the last seven campaigns, but needed a last-minute goal against Chievo on the opening day of the season to seal a comeback win.

And Allegri is contemplating changes, adding: “There will also be a very hot atmosphere tomorrow so everyone will be needed, even those who enter during the game.

“For example, the wing is more covered with Douglas Costa, but we also know what can happen with Ronaldo there.

“I have to make a decision on (Blaise) Matuidi today. He’s in good shape and he always runs.

“He came in late last season but immediately made us understand what he could give us.

“Changes will depend on the moment, our state and our opponents. From September 16 we’ll be playing every three days, so the changes will be natural.

“However, decisions must be made and only winning counts. If you win, every decision you make is a good one but they’re never fully accepted.”

Lazio, who opened with a 2-1 loss to Napoli, have injury concerns.

Luiz Felipe and Valon Berisha are out, but Adam Marusic might be fit.

Felipe has a grade-two tear of his calf, picked up against Napoli, while Berisha has a hamstring injury.

Marusic sprained his ankle in Rome last week but could recover in time.

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