Serie A defenders prepare for a unique challenge from Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo will bring his remarkable abilities to a new setting for the 2018-19 campaign, signing a four-year deal with Juventus this week. Fans in Turin are certainly anxious to see what he can produce on the pitch, and Serie A defences will be focused on creating a successful plan to stop him.
The 33-year-old concludes his time in the Spanish capital with a multitude of titles, and an amazing goalscoring record as well. In 438 games for Los Blancos, CR7 found the back of the net 450 times.
With a spectacular blend of skill and power, the Portuguese superstar can completely take over a match. However, Italy will be a different type of challenge for him.
Italian football places a strong emphasis on defensive work and tactics, and clubs such as Napoli and AS Roma boast extremely talented back-lines. Each allowed less than 30 goals in 38 league games during the 2017-18 term.
Alongside team-mates like Mario Mandžukić and Paulo Dybala, Juventus’ attack has the capability to score goals in bunches this coming season. The key for opposing sides will be taking Ronaldo’s impact out of the match.
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri will likely utilise a 4-3-3 formation, and Ronaldo could find himself in a variety of different positions as the campaign progresses. Able to play on the wing or as a traditional striker, it can be difficult for opponents to contain his impressive production.
Some may point to the group that Ronaldo is leaving behind, as he benefited from spectacular midfield play at the Santiago Bernabéu. It is a fair point to make, with Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos providing excellent service in the attack. But the middle of the Juventus line-up can have similar effects for him, as Miralem Pjanić and Claudio Marchisio can influence play anywhere on the pitch.
Ronaldo's ability to create in the final third on his own is a dangerous weapon, and has frustrated La Liga defences for nine years. From step-overs to sharp movements from wide positions, CR7 is able to open up space for both himself and team-mates in the opposing half. In this sense, his presence will allow for a frenetic pace to matches that will be difficult for many sides to keep up with. This will see defenders come up with different strategies for fixtures versus Juventus, and much of it will likely rely on a no-nonsene approach.
Ultimately, defenders will have to be able to play a physical brand of the game, and aim to keep Ronaldo off the ball. Two problems are presented there, and the first is that it is much easier said than done in regards to limiting his touches. The second issue is the quality around him. From Dybala to Juan Cuadrado to Douglas Costa, there is no shortage of attacking firepower available for the Bianconeri.
When considering his time in Spain, fans in Italy should see Ronaldo lead to more scoring chances for his squad as well as for himself. Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale each enjoyed flashes of brilliance in the attack alongside CR7, and that will be a good sign for the likes of Mandžukić and Costa. The competition will have to account for these factors. Expect to see the use of five defenders at the back and an extra holding midfielder often from several teams as they try to combat the Juve front-line.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be prepared to battle a new league in the coming years, and many will be anxious to see if he's able to deliver in a new environment. Serie A defenders are ready for him, and the results will be fascinating to watch.