Seeing the scoresheet of Juventus-Cagliari, one would think the Bianconeri have once again managed to take home the three points only thanks to the usual, superb Cristiano Ronaldo.
CR7 scored twice in the first half to give the Serie A champions a deserved victory over a Cagliari side that paid a high price for only thinking about defending a goalless stalemate. Cristiano broke the deadlock with a screamer from the edge of the box and made it two shortly after steering inside the net a corner kick from the right.
Ronaldo had scored in each one of his first five league games only once, in 2014-15, when he eventually got 48 for Real Madrid. This season started off well for the Portuguese ace who netted eight goals in five Serie A games. He was absent for two matches as he tested positive for Covid while on international duty back in October.
Juventus, however, are much more than just Cristiano Ronaldo. Alvaro Morata had already proved it when CR7 was out of action. The Spaniard has six goals in the first nine games of the season and is Juventus’ second best scorer.
“The transitional period is over,” said Andrea Pirlo on the eve of the game and the performance of his players against Cagliari proved once again the Old Lady have found their way.
The Bianconeri were always aggressive and didn’t give Cagliari any time to breathe making it impossible for them to organize counter attacking action that could turn into goal scoring opportunities.
Matthijs de Ligt made his seasonal debut after recovering from a shoulder surgery he had sustained at the end of the last season. He easily controlled Giovanni Simeone and Cagliari’s attackers. The Dutchman was not only physically dominant but was also able to replace Leonardo Bonucci and build up the attacking actions from the back.
With Giorgio Chiellini still struggling with injuries, MDL will play a key role for Juventus this season. He will mainly partner Leonardo Bonucci once the Italy international returns from an injury but the defensive duo with Merih Demiral is likely to be the future of the Old Lady for the next few seasons.
Former Barcelona midfielder Arthur is also stepping up showing that quality Juventus desperately needed over the last few years. The Brazilian took some time to settle into Pirlo’s two-man midfield but his adaptation period seems to be almost over as he showed confidence with the ball at his feet, quality passes and great positioning skills that allowed him to often win the ball possession in the middle of the park.
Dejan Kulusevski is another player Pirlo can’t do without. With his jinking runs that make it difficult for opponents to understand when he would touches the ball and what he is going to do with it, the product of Atalanta academy was simply unstoppable at the Stadium and deserved a goal or, at least, an assist to crown a great game where he often cut inside down the right flank.
Add to that Danilo, who has been super consistent as a third centre-back this season, helping to create attacking actions from the back. The former City defender is the only Juventus man to have played every game so far this season. After gaining some self-confidence during the international break, Federico Bernardeschi’s performance against Cagliari was also a highlight. He had one goal disallowed and Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener came at the end of a well-worked passing move that involved him and Alvaro Morata.
A win against a Cagliari side that had some key players out of action, such as Diego Godin and Naithan Nandez, is surely not enough to say the Old Lady have solved all their problems. Where would Paulo Dybala fit in Pirlo’s XI? Will they be as solid at the back when they face teams that have a more aggressive approach and force Juve to defend for longer inside the box? Do they have enough depth in midfield? These are all questions that Juventus will answer in the coming games.
For now, the win against the Sardinians means the transitional period may really be over, as Pirlo said, and that this Juventus side are not only depending on Ronaldo. The team seems to be improving under many aspects even if they often rely on Ronaldo’s goals to win games. Who else wouldn’t?