Serie A 2019-20: Is Cristiano Ronaldo not the key man for Juventus anymore?
Maurizio Sarri's Juventus are currently sitting at the top of Serie A table with a one-point advantage over Antonio Conte's Inter. The Italian giants secured another crucial result on Matchday 12 with a 1-0 win over AC Milan at the Allianz Stadium.
But their star man Cristiano Ronaldo was in the headlines again - not due to his performance on the field, but because of being substituted by Sarri in the second half.
The Juventus boss once again said that his decision was based on Ronaldo's physical condition, and stated that the Portuguese has been having some discomfort in his knee since the last month. But Ronaldo is reported to have left the stadium even before the game ended, and many are wondering whether all is not well between Ronaldo and Juventus' boss.
Ronaldo has failed to make as much of an impact for the Bianconeri in the ongoing season as he usually does. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has only scored six goals and provided two assists in the 14 games he has played this season. The numbers suggest that by his standards, he has been below par.
Much of that is down to how Juventus have lined up under their new manager. Lack of creativity has been an issue with the defending champions this season, and Ronaldo hasn't manufactured a lot of clear-cut chances. As a result, he has had to drop deep on many occasions to have some sort of involvement in the game.
That is not his strong point at this stage of his career, and he often ends up making a misplaced pass or being tackled by an opposition player, much to the disappointment of his teammates and supporters.
The Italian giants have only won two games this season with a margin of more than one goal. That stat proves how they have still not been a dominant force despite being top of the table in Serie A and their UEFA Champions League Group.
Many times they have had to rely on the individual brilliance of players. Paulo Dybala's goal against Milan, Douglas Costa's amazing run and finish against Lokomotiv Moscow, Miralem Pjanic's amazing volley against SPAL are just some examples of that.
The former Chelsea boss has admitted that starting Gonzalo Higuain, Ronaldo and Dybala together isn't an idea that he would like to go ahead with. Sami Khedira, Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi have formed the midfield trio that Sarri has gone with for the majority of the season, in which much of the responsibility to create something for the attackers rests on the shoulders of Pjanic.
The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Emre Can and Adrien Rabiot still don't have the trust of the manager, and he has refused to give them a nod over the regular players in Juve's key fixtures.
Sarri has yet to find a system which will suit his star man and will also see his team dominating games. How he approaches the upcoming games will be crucial for Ronaldo and Juventus' domestic and European ambitions.