I am not all that up on just how superstitious of person Cristiano Ronaldo is. But if I had to guess, I would like to think that he is a guy who doesn’t want to change all that much when things are going right.
Basically, let the good times roll and do as you’ve been doing.
So, basically that means this: As Ronaldo keeps scoring goal after goal after goal, the ponytail/manbun/whatever-you-wanna-call-it that is on the top of his head ain’t going anywhere any time soon.
For the 11th Serie A game in a row, Ronaldo found the back of the net, a number that tied Gabriel Batistuta and and Fabio Quagliarella for the league recorc. He pushed his total to 21 goals in 21 league appearances, which is kinda crazy when you think about how talk about him struggling — at least at the club level — in November and December.
With all of that said, though, it wasn’t Ronaldo’s goal that ended up being the game-winning strike. No, it was Aaron Ramsey killing the announcers’ narrative on the international feed that he hadn’t been doing much all game and chipping the goalkeeper to, at the time, give Juventus a two-goal lead. SPAL was able to cut that lead in half not so long after, but the Italian champions were able to hold on for a 2-1 win in Ferrara on Saturday to ensure that they will go into next weekend’s showdown with Inter Milan all alone in first place.
And, oh yeah, they also ensured that they go into Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Lyon on back-to-back wins. And while they might not have been all that dominant against two of the worst teams in Serie A, they are wins nonetheless — which is something that, a couple of weeks ago, seemed rather difficult for this Juve side to do on a consistent basis.
While some bemoaned the fact that Juventus took so long to actually score a goal from open play in last weekend’s win over Brescia, the quality of the two goals that the Bianconeri scored against SPAL was some of the best we’ve seen in weeks, if not longer than that.
Take the goal from Ronaldo — who was playing in his 1,000th game as a professional on Saturday — as the prime example.
Ramsey, the guy who ““never got into the game” before his goal, sprung Juan Cuadrado on the right wing with a beautiful ball over the top. Cuadrado, who has returned to his more natural right winger position, sent in a quality cross to Ronaldo at the back post. Ronaldo, as you would expect him to do, slammed it home on his first touch. Juventus 1, SPAL 0.
Ramsey’s goal was just as good. Paulo Dybala, again with another one of those he-deserved-a-goal kind of games, sent threaded the needle absolutely perfectly to Ramsey, who then chipped the ball over the onrushing keeper to put Juventus up 2-0.
Was it perfect from there? Well, no, obviously not. Juventus made things a lot more interesting than they should have thanks to Daniele Rugani’s penalty in the box that might not have been a penalty after all. That allowed SPAL, which owns the worst offense in Serie A, to have at least a little bit of hope and made the final 20 minutes of game time a lot more interesting than they should have been.
There wasn’t a repeat of previous weeks with Juventus blowing a lead late, though — which has to be refreshing as compared to what we’ve seen at some points this season.
It wasn’t a dominant win, but it wasn’t another step back, either. And sometimes, when you’ve had a roller coaster ride of a last six weeks that Juve have had, simply getting the job done against a provincial side is really all you need to move onto the next one.
That next one is a pretty big one. Same goes for the one after that, too.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- How very Italian is it that they can’t get the VAR screen to work?
- How very Italian is it that, on top of the VAR screen not working, the referee makes a call about a penalty without actually seeing any of the replays on the screen?
- We’ve officially gone two months since Cristiano Ronaldo DIDN’T score a goal.
- RONALDO ALSO HAD A FREE KICK HIT THE CROSSBAR AND NOT THE WALL THIS IS NOT A DRILL PEOPLE
- I guess if there’s a game that you want Giorgio Chiellini to make his first start, it would be one against the worst team in the league. Chiellini was never going to play a full 90 knowing that he’s just back in game action, and Matthijs de Ligt coming on around the 55th minute was proof that Maurizio Sarri is going to slowly build Chiellini’s back up again. But, outside of a couple of nervy touches right out of the gate, I think it’s easy to say this was a major step for Chiellini in his comeback from major knee surgery.
- Wojciech Szczesny saved SPAL’s best scoring chance of the first half with his ass. Seriously. He literally sat on the ball to prevent it from going through his legs and allowing what would have been a very bad goal. Good work, Tek.
- Take your “Aaron Ramsey didn’t do much in this game” narrative that you probably determined before kickoff and throw them out the damn window. Sure, Ramsey hasn’t been great this season, but I think we’re starting to see him play a midfield position he’s more suited for as well as the fact that consistent minutes — and health! — are starting to pay off.
- Juan Cuadrado had a couple of those classic “Oh, Johnny!” moments, but he also was quite dangerous on the right wing. If the 4-3-3 is going to stick around for a little while, then Cuadrado’s going to have to continue to produce out wide.
- Rodrigo Bentancur completed over 90 percent of his passes, had a team-high 94 touches, led Juventus in interceptions and once again was solid as a regista. I’m not saying that it’s his permanent position, but I’m just saying that he’s showing he’s pretty damn good at this football thing.
- Danilo had a moment in the second half where he basically just ran into a SPAL player rather than trying to tackle him and it was just the most Danilo moment you could think of. He, rightfully, got a yellow card for it.
- If Paulo Dybala scored that chance he had where he patiently circled between a couple of defenders and then sent in a shot that rang off the post, I would have lost it. It was so pretty.