International Sport > Italian Football > RONALDO SUFFERS REALITY CHECK DESPITE JUVE WIN

RONALDO SUFFERS REALITY CHECK DESPITE JUVE WIN

After just five weeks in Italy, Cristiano Ronaldo had already made an impact on Serie A off the field. On Saturday in Verona, it was time to make an impact on the field.

The whole world was watching. Even Pele sent a tweet wishing Ronaldo good luck. The feeling was that he would not need it.

Hosts Chievo had finished 13th in Serie A last season. Ronaldo's salary was three times their entire wage bill.

As goalkeeper Stefan Sorrentino admitted beforehand, “We knew that we would be facing a side that was already top of the class, anyway, having won seven consecutive Serie A titles, but now they’ve got Cristiano Ronaldo as well and are even stronger!"

Only Juve didn't look any stronger at all.

In the end, it was Federico Bernardeschi who proved their saviour, not Ronaldo, with the winger coming off the bench to set up one goal for prodigal son Leonardo Bonucci before netting the winner himself, in injury time.

The win was barely deserved, with Juve producing an inconsistent performance made all the more puzzling by the fact that they had been gifted a dream start, with Sami Khedira pouncing on a loose ball in the box to open the scoring after just three minutes of play.

Juve dominated possession for the remainder of the half, but did very little with it. With Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa all supporting Ronaldo in attack, the 33-year-old should not have been short on service.

But the No.7 was presented with few clear-cut openings. He still went close to scoring, with a shot from just inside the area on the half-hour mark, but the ball rolled the wrong side of the right post.

Remarkably, that proved a costly miss, as Chievo levelled just before the break, with Mariusz Stepinski converting Emmanule Giaccherini's inviting, in-swinging cross with a lovely looping header.

It was Chievo's first shot on target. They also scored, Giaccherini sending Wojciech Szczesny the wrong way with confidently struck penalty, after Joao Cancelo had clumsily felled the former Juve winger in the area.

Giaccherini refused to celebrate; Ronaldo never got a chance to - although not for the want of trying.

The former Real Madrid man set about trying to rescue the game on his own, as he has done so many times before during his career, for both club and country.

He peppered the Chievo goals with shots but it was Bonucci who levelled matters, nodding in a corner that substitute Bernardeschi had placed right on top of the six-yard box.

The stage was, thus, set for Ronaldo to bag the winner and he very nearly won a penalty seconds later but the referee correctly ruled that he had been fouled outside of the area.

As it was, Bernardeschi decide the game in Juve's favour, stabbing in a cross from Alex Sandro to stake a major claim for a starting berth against Lazio next weekend.

It was the kind of impact that Ronaldo had been expected to make but this game only served to underline that he - like Juve - will not have it all his own way this season, which should be no bad thing.

Massimiliano Allegri had been desperately trying to call for some perspective beforehand, arguing that this would be the Bianconeri's toughest title defence to date.

His pleas had unsurprisingly fallen on deaf ears, with Antonio Cassano going so far as to claim that "it goes without saying that Juve have the title wrapped up until 2022 and Ronaldo will score 40 goals".

And the former Italy international could well be proven right on both counts. But, for now, this was a reminder that Serie A is not to be underestimated. The title race is not a foregone conclusion and Ronaldo will not score in every game.

“The Portuguese will certainly experience some difficulties at the beginning," Alberto Zaccheroni sagely pointed out amid all of the hype and hysteria surrounding the arrival of CR7. "I remember even [Michel] Platini suffered a lot during his first year in Italy."

The Frenchman still went on to become a Juventus legend. Ronaldo will still be expecting to do likewise. It might just not be as straightforward as first thought.

Copyright: www.goal.com
 
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