For any 34-year-old footballer, playing in the top flight on a regular basis at the very top level is not a given. While Cristiano Ronaldo is more than just a footballer, you have to admire how the man keeps going at this age like he is still 25.
For a 34-year-old footballer, scoring 27 goals in all competitions for a top club in Europe would have been a dream. But for the standard that the man has set, it is not enough. But having been played in a different way than how he prefers, Ronaldo can’t be at his beastly best in this style.
Max Allegri’s pragmatic style is something that favors Ronaldo. But the way it has been used this season hasn’t favored him. Ronaldo thrives when he is played the closest man to goal and with players with technique and/or pace around him. Having players like Isco, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema around him saw Ronaldo get the service he wanted and the space he wanted.
At Juventus, the presence of Mario Mandzukic on the left-flank makes him seem like a second target man because the Croatian is the bigger presence up front. He isn’t pacy and is closer to goal than Ronaldo sometimes.
This doesn’t help Ronaldo and his efforts to score more. Given that he is all about goals, not playing Paulo Dybala for an inconsistent Federico Bernardeschi does not help too.
In an ageing side that looks very immobile sometimes, Ronaldo is relied on scoring when there seems to be no one who can add pace and get closer to him. Going direct for him has worked like it did against Atletico Madrid, but Juve need players who can get closer to Ronaldo using pace and not long balls.
Having said that, Ronaldo does not deserve to win the MVP of the Serie A at all. It seemed like a decision made more out of PR budgeting than the numbers because Fabio Quagliarella is the highest scorer. Duvan Zapata and Krzysztof Piatek have scored more goals than Ronaldo.
But one thing that has changed this season is the fact that Ronaldo is more involved in the build up to play than he was in the last four seasons at Real Madrid. He had players around him who could create for him while he was the furthest man forward. This season, he often isn’t the furthest man forward.
He gets on the ball more and that exposes his shortcomings because he loses the ball more than he should too. It also signals to everyone as to how a player like him should be played. Juventus need to make a team that is similar to how Ronaldo wants it to be or it might not reflect the image of the club well for how much they have invested in the Portuguese.
That is exactly why Juventus need Simone Inzaghi and not Maurizio Sarri, Mauricio Pochettino or Pep Guardiola as their manager. Its either Ronaldo or the managers who want to play an attractive brand of football at the club.