Ronaldo and Dybala Secure Juve Vital Win in Champions League Race

Although most football fans’ eyes are on Champions League this week, Serie A did not disappoint either, with Juventus and Napoli going head-to-head in the battle for a top-four finish.

The match turned out to be a repeat of the fixture that was supposed to take place last October but had to be postponed due to the COVID outbreak. After a disappointing two-all draw in the Turin derby on the weekend, Juventus bounced back impressively with a 2-1 home win over their direct rivals for the Champions League places.

From the first few minutes it was clear how much this game meant to both teams in terms of league position. Neither of them had any intention of sitting back and just defending, with both Juve and Napoli pressing high up the pitch when their opponents had possession, trying to disrupt their build-up play.

Such an impulsive start to the game immediately led to chances on both ends of the pitch. At first, the league’s top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo missed an absolute sitter after a wonderful cross from the right by Danilo. Moments later, Hirving Lozano played a perfect cut back to Piotr Zielinski, but the Polish international skied the ball well over the bar.

The crazy start to the game was no accident, as both Juve and Napoli continued to play aggressively, attacking with purpose and drive to hurt their opponents in the final third.

As expected, it did not take long for the first goal of the game to come. Danilo played a simple ball down the right to Federico Chiesa, allowing the Italian winger to slip through a couple of Napoli players before delivering an inch perfect pass to Ronaldo. The Portuguese star found himself some space inside the penalty box, laid the ball out perfectly and sent it into the back of Napoli’s net.

After going 1-0 up, Juve refused to sit back and protect the lead. The Old Lady showed a similar attacking impetus after the goal and continued to push forward. Napoli, on the other hand, were unable to impose their game on the home team as they might have intended to do after falling behind and, instead of dominating possession, had to settle for counter-attacks.

It was inevitable that the tempo of the game will drop as both teams approached half-time, but even then the chances were created on either end.

At first, Juan Cuadrado stormed into the penalty area after a magnificent solo run as he weaved his way through three or four Napoli players. The Colombian looked up and unleashed a powerful effort towards the middle of the goal, but Alex Meret made a great save to deny him a moment of glory.

On the other end, Lorenzo Insigne took a dangerous shot after receiving a good pass, but his effort from the edge of the box went just over the crossbar.

The start of the second half was not much different from the first 45 minutes as both teams came out of the blocks with plenty of drive to attack, making it a great end-to-end spectacle.

Napoli were the first to create when Insigne received the ball between the lines on the edge of the box, made a clever turn to his right and picked out his teammate Giovanni Di Lorenzo who was in acres of space. The Italian right-back darted into the penalty area and unleashed a shot into the direction of the right post, which was stopped by Gianluigi Buffon.

Minutes later, Juventus responded with a splendid move on the other end. Ronaldo played a beautiful ball into the path of Alvaro Morata who then found Cuadrado making a run into the box. The Juventus winger made himself a yard of space after receiving the pass, but his shot went just wide of the right post.

Napoli continued to look for the equalizer as the tactical changes made by Gennaro Gattuso allowed them to dominate the play down the right-wing with Lozano and Di Lorenzo.

However, all Napoli’s efforts were undone within a magic moment from Juventus substitute. Paulo Dybala received a simple ball on the edge of the box and accurately placed into the bottom left corner with his left foot, making it 2-0 to Juve.

Napoli did manage to pull one goal back in the dying minutes of regular time when Giorgio Chiellini committed a foul in the penalty area and the visitors were awarded a penalty. Insigne made no mistake from the spot, sending Buffon the wrong way, but it was too little too late for Napoli as their impressive winning run has come to an end in Turin.




April 7, 2021 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 2

SCORERS: 13′ Cristiano Ronaldo (J), 73′ Dybala (J), 89′ Insigne (N, pen.)

JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon; Danilo, De Ligt, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Cuadrado (69′ McKennie), Rabiot, Bentancur, Chiesa (79′ Arthur); Morata (69′ Dybala), Cristiano Ronaldo (Szczesny, Pinsoglio, Ramsey, Demiral, Di Pardo, Dragusin, Frabotta, Fagioli, Kulusevski) Coach: Pirlo
NAPOLI (4-2-3-1): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Hysaj (76′ Mario Rui); Fabian Ruiz, Demme (54′ Osimhen); Lozano (54′ Politano), Zielinski, Insigne; Mertens (76′ Elmas (Contini, Bakayoko, Maksimovic, Petagna, Manolas, Cioffi, Lobotka) Coach: Gattuso
REFEREE: Mr. Mariani from Aprilia
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Alex Sandro (J), Koulibaly, Rrahmani (N); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 4′