For as much of the talk was when Juventus signed Cristiano Ronaldo surrounded the club’s new and lofty European aspirations, there was also plenty of predicting going on about the individual success the 33-year-old goal machine would have in Serie A. Could he step right in and be the top scorer in Italy’s top flight? Would the transition from La Liga’s some-questionable defending to Serie A’s tactical fortitude and defensive awareness go as smooth as the last time Ronaldo switched leagues?
With the end of November approaching we might be getting our answer.
Ronaldo scored his third goal in as many games for the first time in his Juventus career, as his first-half strike off a beautiful Miralem Pjanic free kick proved to be all the Serie A leaders needed in a quick and easy 2-0 win over SPAL at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night. And not just another game-winning goal, but Ronaldo’s current hot streak has seen him soar up the Serie A scoring chart and moves him joint top with Genoa starlet Krzysztof Piatek on nine goals.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
It was the kind of game that we’ve seen so many times from Juventus before. They never really needed to kick things into the high gears, with SPAL not really creating much of anything going forward on a consistent basis that troubled Mattia Perin — who had to make all of one save all game — in goal. Juventus got their goal, defended well and basically cruised to another three points against a team that everybody expected them to beat hand over fist coming into the day.
The bright side in it all was that we weren’t really forced to sweat it out because of a Juventus side that was walking the tightrope of anything like that before Mario Mandzukic doubled his team’s lead midway through the second half. SPAL had its share of the possession and took 11 shots, but it was never much of an issue for a Juventus backline that was one that we hadn’t seen play together all that much this season.
Of course, you could say that that’s what Juve should do against one of Serie A’s lowest-scoring sides, one that has just 11 goals in its first 13 league games this season — and you wouldn’t be wrong. But we’ve seen this Juve side and ones before it make things harder than they should be against these types of teams.
Luckily for us, that wasn’t the case Saturday.
Instead, thanks to another Ronaldo goal and a pretty sound team performance from top to bottom, Juventus’ return from the international break was about as drama-free as it could have been. And for that, I am thankful for even though Thanksgiving was two days ago.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game thought No. 1: DANIELE RUGANI LIVES!
- Pre-game thought No. 2: I’m all here for Capitano Mandzukic. HERE FOR IT.
- Pre-game thought No. 3: Every Juventus goalkeeper should wear this red kit. It’s so pretty.
- Pre-game thought No. 4: I bought a new TV on Black Friday and Juventus games look quite wonderful while being streamed on a 50-inch screen.
- Juventus are undefeated in games where Mario Mandzukic is captain, by the way.
- This was the game where Douglas Costa really reminded us that he can be an absolute terror when he’s got some open space in front of him. He is just so fast, so dangerous when he gets going at full speed — and it doesn’t take all that long to get to that point.
- Plus, I really have no idea how the hell Costa almost scored from that angle in the second half.
- I just wanna write another sentence where I show my appreciation for that assist that Pjanic provided Ronaldo because, you know, it was just so damn beautiful. Dropped it over the line of SPAL defenders perfectly.
- Pjanic-related note: Mire completed 95.9 percent of his passes. I think that will do just fine.
- Alex Sandro’s day, according to WhoScored: Five tackles, one interception, two clearances. I think that will do just fine.
- There were only a couple of times when I was wondering what the heck Juan Cuadrado was thinking and/or doing against SPAL. Hey, that’s a lot less than usual.
- Rodrigo Bentancur didn’t have the commanding kind of game that he’s had in previous appearances over this lengthy spell of starts that he’s had, but you can just see by the way he’s going about things out there that his confidence is pretty high these days. And with the way the injury situation in the midfield currently is, it’s not like Bentancur isn’t going to be playing much going forward. He’s going to get his minutes, and I’m all for it.
- The one thing I didn’t understand about this game was Max Allegri’s substitutions late in the game. Why, after all the talk about how tired he is, was Blaise Matuidi brought on? Why, with five minutes to go, was Giorgio Chiellini brought on for Alex Sandro with Leonardo Spinazzola on the bench and a natural backup? Why, with Juve cruising to a win, was Moise Kean not brought on for some playing time knowing full well he’s killing it at the moment? I usually understand where Max is trying to go with his moves off the bench, but today wasn’t one of those days.