Chievo 2-3 Juventus: Ronaldo's Serie A debut match report
A late comeback win for Juventus in Serie A against Chievo was an eventuful way for Cristiano Ronaldo to ring in his new adventure in Italy.
Chievo 2-3 Juventus: match report
It looked like Cristiano Ronaldo's debut with Juventus might be ruined by a determined and clinical display from the home side, Hellas Chievo, but goals from Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi saved Massimiliano Allegri's blushes with the world tuning in.
Juventus were far superior in every department to start the game and it looked like it might be a matter of how many they could notch up on a defensive Chievo side. Sami Khedira scored first after three minutes when he slotted home from a free-kick that was headed into his path by giorgio Chiellini.
Douglas Costa, Paulo Dybala and Ronaldo all had chances after that but they failed to capitalise as Chievo slowly chipped away at Juventus' dominance. They had an equaliser on 38 minutes when the previously invisible Mariusz Stepinski headed home a lovely Emanuele Giaccherini cross.
He didn't score but if the rest of Ronaldo's game are even half as exciting as his debut then Serie A and Juventus fans will be the better for it. They might not want them to leave it as late next time though.
Chievo vs Juventus live online: latest updates
Chievo vs Juventus live online: match preview
Chievo host Juventus in the opening round of Serie A fixtures and will become the first club to benefit from the Cristiano Ronaldo effect with a sell-out expected at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi on Saturday afternoon.
Massimiliano Allegri has already confirmed that Ronaldo will start in Verona, the Juve boos also stating that Wojciech Szczesny, Giorgo Chiellini, Miraelm Pjanic, Joao Cancelo and Alex Sandro would be in the starting XI.
Ronaldo’s 117-million-euro move to Turin in the summer has given Serie A a fresh boost after a few years of labouring under the shadow of LaLiga and the Premier League and talk of Champions League glory has been plentiful now that Juve have added the five-times winner and competition all-time top scorer to their ranks.
With the draw for Europe yet to take place, it falls to Allegri, Ronaldo and company to concentrate for now on a record seventh Scudetto defence domestically in 2018/19. The setting could not be more fitting for the biggest star to arrive in Serie A for some time: Diego Maradona made his Napoli debut in the same stadium 34 years ago as he embarked on a seven-season stint in Italy that would draw global attention to the division.
The Flying Donkeys have been fairly grounded since their return to the top flight in 2008-09, a ninth-placed finish in 2014/15 their best league result and a couple of Coppa Italia quarter-finals providing fans with a cup run during the same period.
Last season’s 13th position in the table was largely due to the appointment of former long-serving defender Lorenzo D’Anna, who was drafted in to replace Rolando Maran with Chievo languishing in the drop zone three games from the end of the season.
D’Anna, who played for the side from 1994 to 2007, led Chievo to nine points and eventual safety by five points, a turnaround that was made all the sweeter for the Yellow-and-Blue faithful as their arch-rivals Hellas Verona slipped into Serie B.
Chievo have an experienced squad and added Italy international Emanuele Giaccherini during the summer, alongside defensive reinforcements Federico Barba and Nenad Tomovic and Poland striker Marius Stepinski.
A brighter season awaits if D’Anna can replicate the spirit forged towards the end of the previous campaign and a day out in the sun against Juve and Ronaldo is as good a place to start as any.
Ronaldo was the star signing of the summer but Juve have put together a strong squad across all the lines after the signings of Cancelo, Douglas Costa, the returning Leonardo Bonucci and Emre Can.
The departure of Gonzalo Higuáin was inevitable – Juve needed a fall gut and were unlikely to part with Paulo Dybala or Mario Mandzukic – but goals will scarcely be a problem with the addition of Ronaldo, who averaged over one a game during his Real Madrid career.
Any concerns the Juve board might have had regarding the Portugal captain’s reputation as a prickly customer have also been swiftly allayed by Allegri, who described Ronaldo as a “simple lad to deal with” and the player’s own willingness to pitch in as any other new signing would.
On the pitch, matters are slightly more complicated and Allegri has to find a system that fits Ronaldo, while bringing the best out of his star player without treading on any other expensively booted toes.
The most obvious formula is to stick with the tried and tested. Last season Higuaín operated through the middle with Dybala and Costa either side or slightly behind the Argentinean in a 4-3-2-1. Ronaldo has long been touted for a move into a central striking role, which may well suit him given the relative lack of space afforded in Serie A compared to LaLiga and the Premier League.