Serie A already benefitting from the Cristiano Ronaldo effect

Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut for Juventus prompted the reaction of Spanish broadcaster Gol TV, which announced just two hours before kick-off that it would show the game against Chievo on Saturday. It was a good decision, rewarded with the huge interest generated by the fixture, which included a comeback by the home side and a late counter-comeback by Juventus. Ronaldo did not score but he was active in attack and looked in good shape. If the Portuguese did not find the net it was largely due to the Chievo keeper, Stefano Sorrentino, who made more than one extraordinary save. But he played well, linked up with his teammates and created dangerous situations. There was added suspense towards the end of the match when it seemed that Juve had clinched victory but VAR intervened against the visitors. Still, there was sufficient time for the definitive strike as Juve won 3-2.

Serie A had lost a little ground on its competitors due to the frequency of slow, extremely tactical games. A style of football that had become bogged down in detail had started to bore a little and led to an exodus of the division’s biggest stars, who tired of the affair departed for England and Spain. Now Serie A is starting to regain some of the ground it had lost. Fiscal conditions for footballers in Italy have aided the recovery but game’s like Saturday’s in Verona will make an even greater impression. It was broadcast in over 150 countries, some getting involved at the 11th hour, like Spain. An edge of the seat encounter, with five goals and excitement until the final whistle is an excellent advertisement. LaLiga has a new sparring partner in the shape of Calcio.

But Leo Messi remains in Primera División and got his season off to a start with two goals and two shots against the woodwork. With Barcelona still at half speed and Philippe Coutinho, Arthur and Arturo Vidal making second-half appearances, Messi took it upon himself to grab a handful of neck-scruff. With Neymar and Ronaldo now departed, the Argentinean is the last genuine icon in LaLiga, still on a vastly different plane to his nearest comparable, Antoine Griezmann or Gareth Bale. On Sunday it is Real Madrid’s turn when Getafe visit the Bernabéu. It is a good opportunity for Bale and in as far as it possible, Karim Benzema, to dispel the nostalgia that Ronaldo’s departure has created. “Signing players isn’t up to us,” Julen Lopetegui said in his pre-match press conference while he waits for something that isn’t going to come. “Winning is.” After witnessing Messi, the need for reinforcements is more pressing than ever.