Juventus Cruise Past Cagliari with Cristiano Ronaldo Brace

Juventus won “Juventus-style,” probably for the first time this season, as they easily cruised past Cagliari in Serie A Round 8 thanks to a deadly one-two from their star Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Bianconeri took the lead in the 38th minute and doubled it four minutes later, then switched to autopilot for the remaining of the game as Eusebio Di Francesco’s side – wearing an unusual canary-yellow outfit for the occasion – vainly tried to reopen a match that seemed done and dusted at half time.

Andrea Pirlo’s surprise move was lining up 42-year-old Gianluigi Buffon between the sticks. The coach also recovered Matthijs De Ligt in defense for the first time this season. Federico Bernardeschi got a chance to start on the right wing as Dejan Kulusevski positioned himself on the other flank. The striking duo consisted of Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata, with Paulo Dybala once again starting from the bench.

Among the Cagliari lines, the Covid-19 ruled out Diego Godin in defense and Nahitan Nandez on the front-line and forced coach Eusebio Di Francesco to test an unusual 3-4-2-1 formation with Gabriele Zappa and Alessandro Tripaldelli deployed as wing-backs, and the pair Joao Pedro – Adam Ounas supporting forward Giovanni Simeone.

Bernardeschi had a good start and saw a goal ruled out after just 10 minutes. The first chance of the game was a beautiful one-touch team effort on the part of the Bianconeri, but Bernardeschi’s finisher was disallowed as, guess what, Alvaro Morata was caught offside as he served him the final pass.

That was the only spark in the first quarter of a game where Cristiano Ronaldo moved a lot and showed his usual vision of play, dispensing passes to his teammates to no avail. When he did try to turn from provider to finisher, he found a brilliant opposition on the part of Pawel Walukiewicz.

While Cagliari struggled to create anything meaningful for the whole first half, the Bianconeri mostly chose the right flank for their attempts to breach into the Rossoblu lines – with Juan Cuadrado giving life to an interesting battle with 21-year-old left-back Alessandro Tripaldelli.

As the Sardinians’ wall seemed to hold, Juventus’ next chances came from long-range efforts, with Dejan Kulusevski shooting out of target and Federico Berardeschi calling Alessio Cragno to action in the 33rd minute.

That was the prelude to Juventus’ opener, which came a few minutes later and was wrapped by Cristiano Ronaldo. CR7 made the best out of a Morata service as he produced himself in a double dribbling in the box and a deadly right-foot strike that left no chance to Cragno.

Four more minutes, and Ronaldo was on the scoresheet again as he easily slotted home a Merih Demiral aerial deflection from a corner kick. Perfect timing from the Portuguese, but if you leave Cristiano Ronaldo free to shot at the far post with no one marking him, you can’t expect things to go any differently…

At half time, Eusebio Di Francesco ended his lineup experiment and came back to his traditional 4-2-3-1 lineup as he pulled out Tripaldelli to send in winger Riccardo Sottil – who joined Joao Pedro and Ounas behind lone striker Simeone.

But the Bianconeri were in cruise control mode by now and Buffon continued to be a non-paying spectator for most of the second half. Only on 67 minutes did the Rossoblu come close to reduce the gap as Ragnar Klavan risked his face – literally – to head the ball into the back of the net from a right side cross.

The Estonian defender bumped his head into an opponent as he went for the finish and had to leave the pitch right after his successful effort – which was however ruled out on grounds of a Razvan Marin offside in the build-up.

Matthijs De Ligt, here battling with Adam Ounas, collected his first seasonal cup and promptly restarted to be a dominating presence in Juventus’ defense

Juventus limited themselves to control the game and had a few more chances to increase the tally, especially with Merih Demiral, who sent the ball crashing into the woodwork from a corner kick. Federico Bernardeschi engaged in a long-distance battle with Alessio Cragno which saw the Sardinian shot-stopper coming out as a winner.

Paulo Dybala was sent in the 68th minute and also managed to create a few troubles to Cragno, but Cagliari’s goalie was able to deny him showing some good reflexes.

There was also time to see Alex Sandro setting foot on the pitch for the first time since August and for Federico Chiesa to enjoy the last five minutes of the game, but the score didn’t change anymore and the Bianconeri comfortably took home all the three points on offer.



November 21, 2020 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 8

SCORERS: 38′ Cristiano Ronaldo, 42′ Cristiano Ronaldo

JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon; Cuadrado, Demiral, De Ligt, Danilo (85′ Alex Sandro); Bernardeschi, Arthur (85′ Bentancur), Rabiot (69′ McKennie), Kulusevski (85′ Chiesa); Cristiano Ronaldo, Morata (69′ Dybala) (Szczesny, Pinsoglio, Dragusin, Frabotta, Portanova, Vrioni) Coach: Pirlo
CAGLIARI (3-4-2-1): Cragno; Pisacane, Walukiewicz, Klavan (70′ Carboni); Zappa, Marin (71′ Caligara), Rog, Tripaldelli (46′ Sottil); Ounas (81′ Oliva), Joao Pedro; Simeone (81′ Pavoletti) (Aresti, Cerri, Pereiro, Tramoni, Vicario) Coach: Di Francesco

REFEREE: Mr. Maresca from Napoli
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Rabiot, Danilo, Arthur (J), Tripaldelli, Sottil (C); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′; 2nd Half 4′