Sunday October 28 2018
Great goal, terrible Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first “wonder goal” for Juventus but, Adam Digby explains that should not mask the fact the Bianconeri were utterly terrible against Empoli.

Having conquered Old Trafford in midweek, a trip to Empoli must have been in stark contrast for Juventus. While Manchester United’s “Theatre of Dreams” is a thoroughly modern arena, the Stadio Carlo Castellani is quite the opposite, its two main stands looking very much the way they did when the venue was first opened back in 1965. At each end, four “temporary” stands were erected in the 1980s and have remained there ever since, yet their presence still only manages to increase the capacity to 16,284.

Almost every seat was full as the Bianconeri came out to warm up, and it was then that Giorgio Chiellini felt a twinge in his leg and would sit out as a precaution, the defender joining Emre Can, Sami Khedira and Mario Mandzukic on the injury list. Even without their Captain, it seemed the visitors would have too much quality for their hosts, able to name a starting XI that included Paulo Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi and of course Cristiano Ronaldo.

Many expected the Old Lady – who is still unbeaten in all competitions this season – to demolish Empoli, but it was the home side who took the lead with a superbly taken goal following a swift counter-attack after 28 minutes. The Azzurri would dominate the remainder of the first half, much to the disbelief of the large number of Juve fans in attendance, one end entirely full of supporters in black and white, while the tribuna for the locals also contained many in CR7 shirts.

Yet the club’s Ultras had skipped the game in protest at the high ticket price, meaning those fans were largely silent. At kick-off, they had given a hearty rendition of “fino alla fine e forza Juventus,” but appeared to not know another song – or be inclined to repeat that one – during the next 45 minutes.

A dilapidated stadium, their growing injury list, disinterested (or at least dispassionate) supporters and already being behind, Juve could’ve been forgiven for simply going through the motions in the second half. Even when they were awarded a 54th minute penalty for a foul on Dybala, many sides would’ve been happy to take a share of the points and chalk the game up to an unavoidable confluence of circumstances.

Ronaldo had other ideas. After being as anonymous as his team-mates before the break, converting the spot kick seemed to spark him into life and, rather than being happy to have one goal, he craved more. Constantly seeking out the ball, the Portuguese star was suddenly omnipresent, popping up on the left to send Alex Sandro down the wing one minute, then dropping deep to exchange passes with Leonardo Bonucci the next.

With 20 minutes to go, Blaise Matuidi drove forward at the Empoli defence then rolled a pass out to Ronaldo. Now operating on the right, he took one touch to control the ball and another to get it out of his feet as he realised he would have enough time and space to take a shot. Unleashing an absolute rocket, goalkeeper Ivan Provedel’s dive never came close to stopping it and the stunning effort smashed into the top corner.

The crowd erupted, even the home fans acknowledging the audacity of the strike as they realised the first moment of real magic from Ronaldo in Juve colours had arrived at the Castellani. After the final whistle, Allegri insisted that children “will be trying to replicate the goal in the schoolyard” next week and there is no question he is right.

The global attention on CR7 means that the strike has already been replayed infinite times on television, losing none of its magic no matter how many times it is seen. It will inevitably be described in suitably loquacious terms in Sunday’s papers and in countless online columns over the next few days, but instead it should be labelled truthfully: it was a jaw-droppingly emphatic get-out-of-jail-free card played by the Old Lady.

Aside from Bonucci – who singlehandedly prevented at least two potential Empoli goals with well-timed interventions – and Ronaldo, it is hard to pick out another player who didn’t underperform. It was a woeful display from the Bianconeri, yet unlike Roma against SPAL, Napoli at Sampdoria or Inter against Parma, they still claimed all three points. It wasn’t a demonstration of Juve’s fino alla fine (“until the end”) mantra or the “grinta” that supporters like to champion, it was simply the absolute quality of the man in the number seven shirt.

There are issues to be addressed, improvements to be made and players who are – much like the Stadio Carlo Castellani – nowhere near the required standard. It didn’t matter against Empoli, but it will against better opponents and in bigger games where Ronaldo alone cannot be relied upon to save their blushes.

It was a great goal, but a terrible Juventus and that is simply not good enough.

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Have your say...
Honestly, I don't think Ronaldo's second goal was that special !? - compared to his other (past) strikes; sadly, his best I believe was the 'wondergoal overhead ' (against Juve) in the U.C.L - to which even La Vecchia Signora supporters applauded in Turin. Whilst his contribution has been useful (expect though nothing less), I still beleive Juve would be top & in exactly same scenario were Higuaín still there. Real Madrdid team clearly misses him - after weekend 5:1 devastation by Barca !
on the 30th October, 2018 at 2:19pm
I have a very simple comment:

Is this writer so hungry for attention that he penned down a rubbish article just got 1 okay-ish game?

By this logic, Football-Italia should be ready to have approx. 10-15 articles about how Juve struggled but won anyway.

Really? How pathetic is this author?
on the 29th October, 2018 at 8:08pm
Juventus got dominated??? they didn't really, empoli had really that one attack in first half, the ball fell kindly. juve had 27 shots to 12. 10 corners to 6. 5 saves to 1, hit the bar, 57% of the play, I admit juve were not great, but Empoli didn't deserve anything, they played well for a weak team, but that is it.
on the 29th October, 2018 at 6:31pm
@ hussain
would that not be given as a foul anywhere else on the pitch?? answer that honestly?? Its a soft penalty, but he got in front and the defender fell and brought him down, that's the simple fact, nothing more, it happens week in week out across all leagues.
on the 29th October, 2018 at 6:28pm
Foul on Dybala, seriously??? This website is very biased towards Juventus.
on the 29th October, 2018 at 4:50pm
At this point I'm honestly shocked your kind sticks around for 7 years watching Serie A after convincing yourself of that fairy tale.

Whatever. Good luck with that.
on the 29th October, 2018 at 3:19pm
Yawn. Ok loser its 8 years of the same. Nobody cares about your fantasies. Move along pls. So the agnelli family had the power to get them to two finals in 3 years but then decided to just not cheat i the final. Anyways, just shut up. You idiots are just starting to get desperate and even more sad. Ahahhahahhaha also juve will always have many many many many more trophies than yall garbage teams put together. Sleep on that fact.
on the 29th October, 2018 at 2:54pm
Rube fans - lets not get too carried away!
Very kind calendar so far
Once again your 12th Man granted you a non existent penalty.
Empoli were the better team up until that point but as usual the corruption of the league has to ensure that this mafia backed organisation are guaranteed a win either with a soft penalty or a sending off.
We see this every other week and quite frankly this is the reason you fail to win in Europe because the Agnelli family does not have the same power in Europe!!!
on the 29th October, 2018 at 11:36am
Foul on Dybala? You can stop right there....
on the 29th October, 2018 at 11:35am
Empoli deserve some credit, they played well.
Juve did the absolute minimum and still won. We can't play all games at the same tempo and style.

I agree with someone who mentioned that Juve miss Mandzukic, we really do. But not Khedira.
on the 29th October, 2018 at 10:45am
Dybala nipped in front and the player took him down from behind. Soft maybe. But that would be given at the half way line as a free kick so it should be in the box. There was contact, clumsy contact,
on the 29th October, 2018 at 8:31am
I believe the team was better than credited but they did have their failures and Empoli were playing well. Many shots were right at the keeper and Pjanic hit the bar once, while Bonucci's defending shone in areas but overall a goal was conceded and Empoli had their chances.

I hope the Juve faithful realise Khedira's and Mandzukic's importance now. While not our most decorated, they've shown exactly why Allegri prefers them over others.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 11:58pm
They want to see juve win like napoli with pretty football, except napoli does not win hahahahhaha
on the 28th October, 2018 at 9:33pm
Yawn hahahja same old irrelevant complains. For 8 years hahahahha
on the 28th October, 2018 at 9:29pm
Juve won the game, didn't they? Win ugly, win lazy, win by pulling the hairs on your opponent's bald head...we don't care, just win.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 4:25pm
Juve starts slow and pick it up in the second half of the season. I don't worry about them. They look strong to me, they'll be ok. I see the potential.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 4:17pm
Adam, for a balance to this piece (which I agree with to a large extent) the away stand in Old Trafford was not full of curva Sud Ultras and yet it was a great display of passion through singing all night. I know because I was there.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 3:33pm
Great second goal but what foul for the penalty?????
on the 28th October, 2018 at 1:17pm
Not a great performance, but upped the gears when needed. Juve have seemed to have an issue with attitude against smaller teams under Allegri. But given it was only a few days after an energetic performance in Old Trafford with little rotation, I don't see the big deal.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 11:35am
There have been countless articles on here about how juve manage to grind wins out when they do you play well and that's what teams like Roma and Napoli need to learn. So it's not just Ronaldo who saves us. And it is what big teams do.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 11:25am
Juve played horrible and we must give props to Empoli for playing their best game of the season. It a shock to see how they dominated Juve in the first half, and every Juve player played bad even after the equaliser.

But they pressed hard from the beginning allowing Empoli to strike on counters. If Juve were instead patient and allowed Empoli to take charge, it would have been like the Frosinone game earlier this season. And then everyone would complain why they didn't attack to begin with.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 11:01am
Not all gmes can be glorious, but wins like this bring Serie A titles.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 10:57am
Imagine they praise inter for worse performances but nicking the result yet Juve have an off game still dominated and won. I’m not worried about performing well against these smaller teams just the 3 points because Ik Juve raise there game in the big matches. Since the season started only twice they got out of first gear the first game and the first half vs Napoli after they fell behind.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 10:08am

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