How Juventus lost Cristiano Ronaldo bet

Kaustubh Pandey analyzes Cristiano Ronaldo’s time at Juventus and estimates that the Bianconeri have lost more than they have won.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest move for Juventus on the pitch saw him score a superb header in stoppage time, only to see him refused for offside. This match in Udine ended in a 2-2 draw, not because Ronaldo did something wrong, but because a (former) teammate Wojciech Szczesny came with screamers to cost three points to Juve.

What stands out is quite simply the fact that in some ways Juventus transfer decisions held the football team back for the entire period that Ronaldo was at the club. Disruption, tactical instability and odd choices plagued a club chasing Champions League glory when Ronaldo joined the club in 2018.

While the Portuguese were in Turin, you never would have thought that Juventus knew what they were doing when it came to football. During the 2018-19 season, Max Allegri’s team called for a transition that is now emerging. Maurizio Sarri, who was seen as the cornerstone of a long-term new project, was sacked in one season after having to specifically change his favorite lineup to welcome Ronaldo to a team that had played completely different football for many years. .

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Sarri’s team would play robotic football at times, which didn’t help Ronaldo, but it was meant to be a long-term project that ended in a matter of months. The players were only learning the idea of ​​Sarriball at that point and many of them didn’t really like the new tactics and the new mentality of the coach.

The appointment of Andrea Pirlo was shocking and made no sense. Bringing in an inexperienced coach like the former midfielder was seen as a desperate attempt on the part of a club that needed to change coaches but lacked the financial means to hire a top tactician. Time has proved the skeptics right.

On the pitch, Pirlo brought his technical skills to the plate. And the system was out of balance because of the number of complications it entails. Ronaldo, who played for years under the guidance of pragmatists like Sir Alex Ferguson, Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho, had to play under the guidance of managers who bonded the team through their own complex methods. Regardless, he won the Capocannonière last season, scoring 29 goals in 33 Serie A appearances.

There have been times when the demands of the system around him have been a culture shock to Ronaldo and the same would have happened if he had joined Pep Guardiola at Man City and not a pragmatist at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United.

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It’s fair to say that his best performance in a Juve shirt came from a pragmatist in Allegri himself – as he scored the hat-trick to take out familiar enemies of Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in 2019.

Ronaldo and his team thrive under pragmatic managers who place more emphasis on their individual abilities than their tactical systems. Juve had two of these system managers in just a few seasons and they had a squad that needed a change. Some of them are still around because COVID has made it even more difficult to find suitors for players who have massively underperformed in Turin but have high salaries that no one else in Europe wants to pay.

In many ways, Juventus have managed to stick inside a broken mixer crusher throughout Ronaldo’s stay. While the rest of the club existed inside the crusher, perhaps Ronaldo was the cover, his goal unaffected by what was going on beneath him.

Throughout his time at Juventus, Ronaldo’s expected penalty-free goals metric never reached the level of his last season at Real Madrid. But over the past two seasons, he’s outperformed fairly comprehensively on xG without penalty, showcasing his scoring qualities. So it’s not like he’s poor in front of goal, he’s done his job holistically.

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So why do so many people think he failed at Juventus?

As we said, the main reason he was signed was to win the Champions League. Ironically, the Bianconeri came close to Cup lift when Ronaldo was not a Juventus player until his three-year stay in Turin.

The trophy has been won by pragmatic coaches far more often than by system managers. Thomas Tuchel is the perfect combination of pragmatism and aesthetics and Zidane has won it three times in a row with Ronaldo at Real. While Jurgen Klopp, Hansi Flick and Guardiola won the Champions League, they won it when their projects were at their peak. They had undergone a process to nurture the team in their own vision.

In Flick’s case, the squad already had players who had played for years in a popular football brand. Ronaldo went to Juve when they had a pragmatist who took them to two Champions League finals. Then came two system managers in two years and they never had the time to feed their project. Juve wanted instant success with the project managers – almost as if they didn’t know what they were getting.

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It screams out that the Bianconeri also didn’t know what they were getting at Ronaldo. His true value was never really exploited as the club had other issues to deal with. They have become a team without an identity in a confused club that throws paint at the wall, hoping it is a Picasso masterpiece.

The other reason they turned to Ronaldo was to strengthen their finances, get more fans around the world and become a stronger brand. They have partly succeeded, even though they have lost nearly 300,000 Instagram followers since their former star announced his return to United.

When Ronaldo arrived in Turin, Juventus had expected a sold-out Allianz stadium for four years, but they were incredibly unlucky as the COVID pandemic forced all football clubs around the world to play behind closed doors for a long time. year and a half, with the only difference being that Juventus had the most followed person on the planet wearing their shirt.

In the end, Juventus’ € 31million a year salary was a bet the Serie A giants could no longer afford. A new era is now beginning for the player and the club, but the feeling is that Juventus have owned a Lamborghini for three years but used it just for shopping.


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