From the end of Juventus’ last game to the start of this game, the talk in Italy — and beyond — has centered around Cristiano Ronaldo. Like, you know, more than it usually does. It was as a result of obvious reasons, and ones that involve both the state of Juventus in its current form and what could be going down a couple of months from now. There was lots of talk, lots of words written, all of it centering around one dude.
I guess he heard it.
Ronaldo, after very un-Ronaldo-like performance in a big Champions League game earlier in the week, did about the opposite of that Sunday night in Sardinia. There were three different points of connection, but the end result was all the same — Ronaldo connecting for a first-half hat trick to lead the charge as Juventus got back on their winning ways with a 3-1 win over Cagliari. It was an impressive display regardless of the context, but when you throw in everything that has been thrown out there the last four days — and there will be more! — it adds a little bit more spice to how Ronaldo came out firing on all cylinders.
Still. Those goals were good. Oh, they were good.
Header. Right foot. Left foot.
All within 33 minutes.
Perfect hat trick — there you have it.
If this was the kind of “SUCK IT HATERZ” moment from Ronaldo, then so be it. I’m guessing it was based on the simple fact that he put his hand to his ear as he looked into the camera after his third and final goal of the game.
Either way, Juventus needed this — both for the points in the Serie A table and just for the simple morale boost after everything that happened against Porto five days ago. And while it would have had a little more meaning if Torino hadn’t allowed league leaders Inter Milan to score with just a couple minutes left earlier in the day Sunday, not letting any post-Champions League loss issues linger was the most important thing. We’ve seen that happen before, and we’ve seen Juventus drop points after big European games — good result or bad — no matter who the opponent was.
Does this game make up for the hurt and frustration of Tuesday? No, of course not. You’d take advancing in the Champions League over beating relegation-threatened Cagliari every day of the week and then order a double if it was possible.
But Serie A is the only that matters in the present day, and that is something that Juventus will need to find consistent success in — you know, something they haven’t done for much of the season — if they want to ensure Champions League football again next season. And when it comes to connecting those dots, Ronaldo’s goals, just like everybody else, will be the thing that determines just how many points Juve record over the next two months.
On Sunday, the dude leading the way was crystal clear — and it was the guy with No. 7 on his back. That’ll add a little more talk to the loads of talk already there, don’t you think?
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Juventus undefeated when Danilo is played as a midfielder. JUST SAYINNNNNN.
- I know just about every media outlet will be leading with Ronaldo after this game — and, well, it’s only natural after you score a hat trick in that kind of fashion — but this game, regardless of how suspect Cagliari’s defense is, was another reminder of just how on-form Federico Chiesa is right now. You just see the confidence flowing whenever he’s on the ball, and the results are really speaking for themselves. What a vital player he’s become to this team over the last couple of months.
- So it really should be no surprise that Chiesa was the team leader in key passes against Cagliari, right? He had four key passes. The rest of Juventus’ team had three.
- Juan Cuadrado recorded the assist on Ronaldo’s first goal of the night. That’s his 346th assist in Serie A this season. Or that’s at least what
- Wojciech Szczesny barely had anything to do for the first 55 minutes or so. And then, within the span of about a couple of minutes, made two really good saves to keep Cagliari off the scoreboard. Nice work, Tek.
- Juventus’ defending on Gio Simeone’s goal ... LOLZ.
- Poor Alessio Cragno. He first gets a boot to the face courtesy of Ronaldo, is bloodied and bandaged on his chin, then gets called for a penalty a few minutes later. Sometimes the life of a goalkeeper can be cruel and unforgiving.
- Alvaro Morata is in the midst of the best season of his career. And while Sunday night was not one of his best games by any means, the English announcers made sure to compare any inconsistency he has had this season to what happened with his struggles at Chelsea. Because, you know, everything needs to be worked back to England.
- This game really did have some of our old friends. There was Daniele Rugani, there was Kwadwo Asamoah, there was even Alberto Cerri. OK, so maybe that’s two old friends and a player Juventus had on their books for a couple of years that never actually played for the club, but we can call him a friend since he brought in a decent chunk of change in July 2019.
- Whenever Juventus has played Cagliari this season it is a reminder that Diego Godin does, in fact, play for Cagliari.
- Juventus ended this game with Federico Bernardeschi and Gianluca Frabotta manning the left wing positions. Just like you all thought would happen, right? The rest of Serie A must be so freakin’ jealous.
- I personally enjoyed not having to stress out about this team for a second straight week. It was nice to go back to the source of my heartburn being the coffee I just drank rather than the team I root on a weekly basis. (It was still some good coffee, for the record.)