Friday August 17 2018
Come for CR7, stay for Serie A

Many will tune in to Chievo-Juventus just for Cristiano Ronaldo's debut, but Daryl Hammond hopes they'll learn to love the unique spectacle of Serie A.

The Stadio Bentegodi isn’t quite the iconic footballing theatre the Santiago Bernabeu or Old Trafford are, but as far as opening stages go, it will do for Cristiano Ronaldo. 

He scored twice in his first ever league appearance for Sporting CP, and club legend George Best hailed his first Manchester United appearance "the most exciting debut performance I’ve ever seen" as his pace and skill wowed the crowd. 

He won’t have to do nearly as much to court spotlight on Saturday, as he marks another chapter in his glittering career, donning the black and white stripes of Juventus for the first time. 

Ronaldo mania has swept through Turin, with his face on the front of newspapers and his name on the back of children’s shirts. He has both a pizza and an ice cream dedicated to him, and has brought over six million social media followers to Juventus since his arrival. 

One man a league doesn’t make, but the arrival of the most recognisable footballer on the planet and current Ballon d’Or winner was always going to attract some interest. 

There is always a little extra spice when Juventus are in town, with Saturday’s fixture the highest attended at Chievo for several seasons. But fans like those of Frosinone, Empoli or SPAL may never have imagined seeing Ronaldo live against their team. 

And that hype of potentially seeing Ronaldo play will last long after the opening day, as fans will readily turn up just to see one player. 

Business-savvy clubs are already capitalising on the clamour, with Juve season tickets selling out despite a 30% mark-up and away tickets for the trip to Parma in Week 3 are being sold at a premium price. 

That anticipation will spread to the players, who will want to play harder and tougher against him, as they would when Juventus and their stars normally roll into town.  

But conversely, a few will be planning to be as close as possible to the Ballon d’Or winner come the final whistle for the chance of a shirt swap. 

For the first few weeks, everything he does will draw media attention. His first start, first goal, win, losses, anger and arguments. 

The league will hope that initial buzz turns into a sustained viewership, which may happen if the title race as close as it was last year. 

One sour note for Serie A officials hoping to draw a large audience is the fixture clashes with Arsenal v Chelsea in the Premier League, which will pull some fans away. 

But with or without Ronaldo, the start of the season would still be a big one. Inter have bought exciting players like Radja Nainggolan, Lautaro Martinez, Keita Balde Diao and Stefan de Vrij.  

Napoli, with Carlo Ancelotti now at the helm, have signed Simone Verdi and Fabian Ruiz, while Roma have spent well over €100m on their summer arrivals. 

Ronaldo is far from the only reason to watch the Serie A this season, but no doubt many will tune in just for that. Come for CR7, stay for the unique spectacle that is Italian football.  

Have your say...
The Facebook live stream didn’t work on Saturday. Therefore I couldn’t watch the game... I pay £30 a month for Sky Sports, £23 for BT. Why on earth should I pay more money to watch it on a site which is poorly run, poor quality and over priced?
on the 20th August, 2018 at 7:50pm
To all those whinging about Eleven Sports get over yourselves. It's very reasonably priced compared to SKY or BT. They are also showing one Serie A game free on Facebook every week. Their programming is very high quality & so are the streams, all in HD. They will soon have casting available on their app or you could just use a HDMI cable to connect your computer to your tv. It's 2018, if you don't have broadband or a computer or a smartphone it's time to get with the times or be left behind.
on the 18th August, 2018 at 2:43pm
Having watched Serie A for many years, going right back to Channel 4 in the 90s, I fear I'll be missing out this season due to it not being on UK TV. Massive own goal by Eleven Sports and whoever let the rights go to amateurish online only cowboys like this bunch.
on the 18th August, 2018 at 9:49am
Serie A has to avoid clashes of the most marketable games with big epl games as epl has a head start. Get people hooked to serie A 1st then when they are hooked, we can compete for time slots with epl.
on the 17th August, 2018 at 8:15pm
Very sad when Serie A and Inter seem to be making some fantastic signings.
on the 17th August, 2018 at 6:58pm
Sadly and very reluctantly due to the ELEVEN SPORTS deal I appear to have watched my last Serie A game. We don't all want to watch on small devices or have the capacity to do so. Like the sentiment shown below feel betrayed, annoyed, alienated that we are not given a TRUE choice on how to watch Serie A. Needs to be on TV. Simply put as a colleague said who was starting to get into watching Italian football this will mean the profile of Italian football will reduce in England..
on the 17th August, 2018 at 6:57pm
Yes, the unique spectacle of teams like Chievo playing with 8 defenders and doing the bare minimum to avoid relegation.
on the 17th August, 2018 at 2:45pm
Where to watch it?

dazn and elevensports are geoblocked and even VPN does not help...
on the 17th August, 2018 at 2:36pm
I'd stay for the whole season if ELEVEN SPORTS get their act together and sort their UK website out! It's ridiculous how little information has been made available to the public.
on the 17th August, 2018 at 1:46pm
Shame you can't watch Serie A on TV anymore. I feel betrayed!
on the 17th August, 2018 at 11:03am
I'm really looking forward to this season. Some of the Serie A sides have made great signings, especially Inter, my team. Ronaldo is not just a great signing for Juventus but for Serie A as a whole. One thing that does disappoint me is the TV coverage in UK no longer being with BT and now with Eleven Sports, which I'm not entirely convinced by how they're going to show the games and how often.
on the 17th August, 2018 at 10:21am
2/2 Feels a bit light back-up wise, though. Maybe there'll be a surprise signing today, but I doubt it. Let's just hope it won't be a 3-5-2 because then we'll be screwed in Europe.
on the 17th August, 2018 at 9:38am
Great, another blog on CR7. At this point, it feels like it's copy-pasted from a previous blog. Maybe write a blog next time with some more substance, like which formation is Juve most likely to play? I doubt they'll be playing 4-3-3 as Dybala doesn't fare well on the flanks, and now that Marchisio has left, we only have 5 midfielders, so probably 4-4-2 with Pjanic - Can as CMF and CR7 - Dybala as strikers and Mandzukic - Costa on the flanks, with Cuadrado, Bernardeschi and Kean as back-ups. 1/2
on the 17th August, 2018 at 9:36am

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