Monday November 30 2020
Ronaldo can't be Juventus' excuse

Juventus failed to beat Benevento without their main star Cristiano Ronaldo, but Elio Salerno argues CR7’s absence is not enough to justify such a disappointing result.

“We have few players with strong personality”. As Andrea Pirlo uttered that short but disconcerting statement, the size of the task facing the inexperienced Juve tactician hit home a little harder for supporters of the Italian champions.

It was an honest assessment from Pirlo following a fifth Serie A draw of the season, this time against recently promoted Benevento. The Bianconeri’s latest setback came again in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, adding fuel to the argument that the Turin giants have become over reliant on their number 7. As these types of performances and results continue to pile up, the theory that Juve struggle to win without CR7 becomes increasingly evident.

From the moment he arrived, Juventus were always likely to become heavily Ronaldo dependent. It is natural in any team that their best players become a focal point, but that is especially true for a team like Juve who have been steadily losing their identity over the last few years. From the moment that The Old Lady’s 2015 Champions League final XI began to lose the pieces that made it a success, Juve fell into the trap. One of individuality over team cohesion and the signing of the world’s most decisive player only served to establish that further.

In his later years at Real Madrid, Ronaldo was primarily used as a goal scoring number 9. However, since his move to Italy the Portuguese player has had to become something of a hybrid between his younger self and the serial marksman he transformed into. If there is a Ronaldo cause for concern amongst Juventini then that should be the reason why. In Madrid, Cristiano’s superstar cast meant his almost sole focus was on finding the net, but in Pirlo’s team he is much more influential in overall play, he has more responsibility in the build-up. Ronaldo dictates the attack. Trying to replace his goals is problematic enough but with these extra elements in play, it significantly adds to your dilemma.

This trend started under Max Allegri, was compounded by the appointment of Maurizio Sarri and leaves novice coach Mister Pirlo, who has inherited a squad with many new players without many alternate options other than to follow suit. It will take time for Il Maestro to understand his own philosophy and how best to transmit this to his players. Due to a multitude of factors this experimental appointment by Andrea Agnelli was never going to run smoothly, it can therefore come as no surprise that the Peninsulas’ most successful club are encountering problems.

Pirlo can perhaps take solace from looking around Europe and seeing the struggles of other elite teams. Those with established coaches who have settled squads and are experiencing troubles of their own. In this particular season with unprecedented demand in terms of fixtures it is those with familiarity, understanding and who are having to make fewer adjustments that are coping best. The teams that top the continents top five leagues are confirmation of that. 

In these moments leaders are needed, but the characters that have seemingly steered Juve straight over the last decade have slowly slipped way. Without Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and again Ronaldo, the remaining players take to the field with no one to guide them. Matthijs de Ligt has been domineering since his return, attempting to take command from the back but he cannot do this alone.

Do we see the required leadership qualities in any of other the players outside of the Dutchman? The simple answer is no. Look back over the last decade and you will find Juve teams littered with players that could step-up when the team faced adversity, what Pirlo would give to have a Claudio Marchisio, Stephan Lichtsteiner or Mario Mandzukic type figure to aid this period of transition.

It is easy to judge Pirlo, question his selections and his seemingly constant rotation of his starting line-ups. There are certainly instances where he could have brought more stability with his choices but that is no excuse for not beating the likes of Benevento, Crotone and stumbling past Ferencvaros. This group has to develop resilience, serenity and learn to find a way, just as those previous have done on countless occasions in the recent past. In part it is this which has lead La Vecchia Signora to a historic nine consecutive titles but as of now the dream of a tenth looks in serious jeopardy.

Have your say...
hopefully rubentus find their form soon enough its more enjoyable watching them lose title with their best performance than mediocre performance. i believe milan or inter gonna win this year, but its more satisfying if they won the league when rubentus on their fine form.
on the 2nd December, 2020 at 2:20pm
@Ravanelli: Thanks :-)

And I do agree with your assessment on Dybala - he simply needs to show more on the pitch. However, after his COVID-19 issue, the muscle injury and yet another virus he caught, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I love Dybala, he's one of the few out there who actually loves the shirt he wears. That's rare these days and I really hope he can get back to winning ways. Take care, R1897
on the 2nd December, 2020 at 2:13pm
@ Romanzo1897

Well said. Finally some common sense and realistic expectations.

However, I do agree with the criticism of Dybala. I was always a supporter of him. The team needs him more than ever right now. He really needs to step up or step aside.
on the 2nd December, 2020 at 11:58am
we need tireless and box to box midfielder and please just don't extend Dybala's contract.. he's not worthy 15 MEUR
on the 2nd December, 2020 at 11:50am
The midfield is a problem due to inconsistency but defence hasn't formed an identity and has had too many injuries. Given the problems, we're only 6 behind Milan who are having the season of their lives post Van Basten era. So CALMA! Something will click and Juve will win it comfortably.
on the 2nd December, 2020 at 10:28am
Wow Juve fans are really something else... now our midfiled is garbage? LOL. Some of you need to relax. Rabiot is a key player for the current world cup holders, not sure why the hate. Also people are still hoping for Dybala? LOL he's a lost case. Pirlo is correct, we need mental giants. We only have 3. Btw who should we have bought instead? Aouar? LOL what a joke. Look at Chelsea, how many young rising talents did they get and they still not solid yet?
on the 2nd December, 2020 at 12:33am
juve are missing most of their defence, have dybala misfiring, have to depend on the likes of ramsey and rabiot who were inconsistent even before joining juve, have a misfiring dybala and a summer transfer market which recruited a bunch of kids and loosed experienced campaigners. than add ronaldo brush with covid.

at least wait until they have something that resemble a full team and even than it will probably take more than a couple of weeks for the new ideas and player to come good.
on the 1st December, 2020 at 7:11pm
Pirlo must find a formation that plays to his players strengths which allows them to form their own identity. He did not select these players. He was told to coach them so ask Paratici what approach he had in mind. Juve still carry on about players and styles from the past. Pirlo has to accept that Arthur will never have his vision. The midfield is not the same of the past yet it does not mean they are skill-less. It's up to Pirlo now to unearth a new chemistry and it is an ultimate test for him
on the 1st December, 2020 at 5:34pm
Putting on the jersey of a legendary team does not make you a great team.
Getting a group of disparate players and putting them together regardless of cost cannot replace true team building and accompaning camaraderie.
You can sense a team playing for themselves without passion looking for the leadership of a living legend. Pirlo's quest is making these secondary ego's play for Juve, for Turin, for Italy and not just themselves, not tactics, psychology. The sitting giants can lead the strangers.
on the 1st December, 2020 at 2:30pm
@Omar I completely agree with your second point where Allegri said they needed a rebuild 4 years ago and yet nothing happened. They have managed to add a few younger players in the last window but much more is needed. I mentioned when Pirlo was appointed that I worried about his personality to be a top coach. He's just too laid back, he might have the best ideas in football history but if he can't transmit them to the players it's uselss
on the 1st December, 2020 at 10:05am
I don't like the excessive criticism. What do you expect? Seriously, as a Juve tifoso I was expecting those results... Pirlo has no experience, the squad is in transition, a lot of new and potentially great players arrived, NO pre-season, playing every three-four days... cut Pirlo and Paratici some slack, please - 9 games in Serie A, four in the CL. That's enough these days to judge a team? Come on.
on the 1st December, 2020 at 9:18am
I have been saying for years that Seria A was a mirror image of the Scottish PL because of corrupt Platini's Farcical fair Play. So Juventus and Celtic have had their decade, these things do not last forever, change is inevitable eventually.
I think Pirlo will make a great coach, but should have started in a club where there is less pressure.
on the 1st December, 2020 at 7:58am
Pirlo Play 442 Alexsandra Delight Dimeral Codrado Kulus Rabiot Bentacure Chiese R7 Morata
on the 1st December, 2020 at 12:47am
by far and without doubt Cristiano is the best player in the history...its normal juve is not that good without him
on the 30th November, 2020 at 11:55pm
I am not surprised by the results this season.Juve have a good squad but they struggle to play as a team and they have to rely on players like CR7 & PD to produce the goods.
Until they do play as a team ,they will have to accept
Ronaldo is the only player that can keep them any where near a top four place,forget winning serie A.
I said when Pirlo was given the job he would struggle with this squad and so far he has.Ronaldo not playing can be the
excuse as players look to him for the spark.
on the 30th November, 2020 at 7:30pm
Hey, stop knocking Pirlo!! The man got an A+ for his thesis. Apparently, these days that is more than enough to become a coach at Juve.
on the 30th November, 2020 at 6:07pm
I wonder what was Pirlo thinking when he criticized his players lack of personality. He as a player was elite, but he needs to work hard and show your value before bashing your own players. He is not Mourinho after all, who maybe does not have the most beautiful football but know how to assemble a squad. You wont see Ancelotti saying that kind of stuff. Pirlo maybe will end like a Conte, disliked by most and irrelevant as sheet
on the 30th November, 2020 at 5:50pm
Paratici is to blame he bought some good wide players in Kulusevski and Chiesa but just look at the midfield useless he just goes and gets free unwanted players from other clubs,pjanic was by far a better player then Arthur’s who is the slowest player ever and his passes are 5-10 meters maximum sideways or backwards never forward.

This juve team is almost complete just need one or 2 good midfielders like Locatelli and Sergei milonkovic savic.
on the 30th November, 2020 at 5:48pm
So it looks like ronaldo decides to play in a worthless champions league game and not in Seria a against Benevento what a selfish player he is just look at Zlatan what a leader world class he plays for the team and not just for himself.

I don’t blame Pirlo at all he has to rotate international seria a and champions league since June there is a game every 3 days and he also has had lots of injuries Chiellini Bonucci and delight and so on.
on the 30th November, 2020 at 5:40pm
Just to get him on the pitch to secure points would have merely masked inherent, serious yet understandable challenges the club faces. If the big players don't step up now how can their huge salaries be justified? The cheek of Dybala to keep demanding 15M - if he's really convinced of his worth, hold the negotiations until he comes back to his best. There is a sense of entitlement within the squad. Pirlo needs to focus on basics first, asking players to help each other out.
on the 30th November, 2020 at 4:13pm
Key struggle is most of the leaders are not in the starting 11. Chiellini, Buffon are limited, add Bonucci this week. Ronaldo came as with a lead by example mentality. This is where the next wave of leaders need to step up. I'm talking about you 15 Million Dollar man. When the time for him to step up came, he wasn't there. Everything was lined up for him, no Ronaldo off the bench pressure, knew he was getting a full 90, had the armband, plus he should of been motivated with Maradona.
on the 30th November, 2020 at 3:44pm
100% correct. Juve's entire midfield is not worthy of wearing the shirt. Dybala must stop sulking about his contract, and just leave. We should have sold him after his flash in the pan display vs Barca in 2017. We need PROPER midfielders, not these half-baked clowns we have not. McKennie,Rabiot,Ramsey, Arthur,Bentancur....would not even have been third choice when Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Marchisio were around.
on the 30th November, 2020 at 3:05pm
I think Pirlo's assessment is honest and refreshing as he's not covering over the cracks, and if one cannot acknowledge the problems, then one cannot move forward. Pirlo will no doubt have a big input in the coming transfer windows, looking for answers, but in the interim, he going public with such statements is a reminder for his players of the clubs and fans expectations.
on the 30th November, 2020 at 1:19pm
Pirlo hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing. He tinkers with his starting 11 like PlayStation!! It’s December and he hasn’t figured out his best 11. Pariatici takes the blame for this squad which is ample with talent but lacks cohesion. He expelled reference points of this team to balance the books and buy Ronaldo. 4 years ago Allegri told them the squad needs a rebuild and he ignored him. A gradual rebuild would have been much easier. Now it’s like they’re starting from scratch! Pariatici should go
on the 30th November, 2020 at 1:04pm

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