Cristiano Ronaldo made his Serie A debut in Juventus’ thrilling 3-2 victory at Chievo.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the impact of the heralded summer arrival from Real Madrid.
Ronaldo, 33, was all smiles as he walked out with a young girl mascot, doing some quick squat jumps as he took to the pitch. There were, though, times when he showed some frustration, notably after Chievo had equalised and then taken the lead early in the second half.
However, the Portugal forward quickly regained focus – as he always did for Los Blancos. It looked as though Ronaldo would endure more disappointment after eventually being penalised in the build-up to Mario Mandzukic’s late header after a Video Assistant Referee review. The final whistle, however, brought jubilant celebrations with the rest of his team-mates after a hard-earned victory.
Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri deployed Ronaldo as an out-and-out central striker, while looking to bring others into the match. The introduction of first Federico Bernardeschi, who would score the winning goal, and then Mandzukic said much about the need for Juve still to find the way to get the best out of their new talisman.
While Ronaldo was not able to mark his Juve debut with a goal, it was not for the want of trying. The first real opening came on 19 minutes, when he dragged a shot wide from just inside the penalty area after being picked out by Paulo Dybala.
More opportunities came as the game opened up, including a neat shot on the turn and trademark free-kick, which flew in at an angle from the left, but both times Ronaldo found Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino in top form.
Astonishingly, the Portuguese star was not one of the scorers, though he produced a decent display nonetheless. His presence lifted Juve in his first competitive outing since his shock summer transfer from Real Madrid, and he looked like the perfect spearhead for his side’s fearsome attacking trio of the Portuguese, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa.
Here’s a closer look at his performance.
Goals – 0
Assists – 0
Shots – 8
Shots on target – 4
Passing Accuracy – 90%
Key Passes – 2
Dribbles – 0
Ronaldo missed an early chance, driving forward and shooting wide in a position where he so often scores, and that was a summary of his night in front of goal as he saw most of his efforts either saved or blocked by a valiant Chievo rearguard. However, the 33-year-old was a menace whenever he drifted onto the wings.
He was also involved in the game’s biggest talking point, a Mario Mandzukic goal that was overturned by VAR for a Ronaldo handball.
Crossing – After Mandzukic came on, Ronaldo took up a familiar left-wing berth and showed off an underrated aspect of his game. His delivery from that flank was constantly threatening, as he fizzed in three or four brilliant crosses.
Ronaldo’s instant understanding with Costa and Dybala was encouraging to see, especially knowing that their interplay can only improve. His running gave the duo the time and space to create chances, and he was quick to find them with crisp passes as well.
Finishing – Ronaldo had a rare off night in front of goal, as he lost his duel with Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino. He will feel he should have scored, as he sent one header straight at Sorrentino and put an early chance wide.
Equally, the keeper can take credit for denying Ronaldo his dream debut goal, pulling off one stunning save and making a couple of others to keep the striker out. Ronaldo will have to wait for his first goal in the famous black and white.
Other than a goal, Ronaldo gave everything he could to this game, showing the threat he can still pose as a winger and always looking a threat.
He looked instantly at ease with his new teammates, and even despite the lack of a goal, he showed enough to suggest he’s ready to take Italy by storm, just as he’s done everywhere else he’s played.
RATING – 7/10
It’s the game Juventus fans have been waiting for.
Not only is it the first competitive game for the Old Lady and the opening fixture of the Serie A, but it also marks the official debut of their £99.2 million summer signing, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese has been named in the starting XI away to Chievo Verona.
Juventus XI: Szczesny; Cancelo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic; Cuadrado, Dybala, Douglas Costa; Ronaldo— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) August 18, 2018
Subs: Perin, Pinsoglio, Benatia, Matuidi, Barzagli, Mandzukic, Emre Can, Rugani, Bentancur, Bernardeschi#ChievoJuve #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve