Cristiano Ronaldo was hailed as a born champion by Andrea Pirlo after the superstar forward kept his goalscoring run going with a double in Juventus' 2-0 win over Cagliari. The Portugal international scored twice in the space of four first-half minutes to take his tally for the season to eight goals in six appearances in all competitions. After relatively quiet International Break with Portugal, with one goal in three matches, Ronaldo stepped up at Turin and helped Juventus climb to the 2nd spot of Serie A. In doing so, Ronaldo became the first Juve player to score in each of his first five Serie A outings in one season in the three-points-per-win era. His match-winning brace came from five attempts and he also laid on three chances for his team-mates, earning praise from head coach Pirlo. Even when he was on the verge of scoring a hattrick, he tried to set up Alvaro Morata and Bernadeschi many times.
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"He is a great professional, as we already knew. He is a real champion and sets the example for everyone around him, both in the matches and in training. The only advice I can give him is to keep going in the same way.” - Pirlo told DAZN
Juventus also had a Federico Bernardeschi goal ruled out for offside and tested opposition goalkeeper Alessio Cragno five times in Saturday's clash at the Allianz Stadium. It was a dominant display from Juve, with nine of their players having at least 60 touches of the ball – only once in the last 15 years, against Bologna in 2018, have they done better. The defending champions are second after winning four of their eight league outings under Pirlo, who is happy with the way his players are taking on his ideas.
"There's a lot of quality in this squad, but that alone is not enough. If we are going to dominate games then we have to work the ball quickly from side to side.” – Pirlo said.
"The players enjoy this style of football. When we have possession, we have to pin the opposition back. We've been trying this pressing game since the first game but have not had much time to work on it. It is about winning back the ball as quickly as possible to keep the pressure."
Former Barcelona midfielder Arthur Melo completed more passes (101) than any player on the pitch, with an unrivaled 57 of those in the opposition half. In the week that he scored his first goal for Brazil. Pirlo praised the midfielder for his adaptation to the Juventus system after a rocky start to his life in Turin.
"He is the player we expected. He came from a different league and needed a period of adaptation. Now he is better and is a very important player for our games if we are to avoid the opposition press."- Pirlo said.
Cagliari had a goal of their own ruled out when Ragnar Klavan headed home in the second half but they failed to register a single attempt on target in Turin. They had previously won four of their last five games in all competitions but Eusebio Di Francesco conceded his side could have no complaints with the result.
"We came with a plan to press Juventus but their superior quality forced us back. They kept forcing us deep and they were always going to lead to a goal. We created more in the second half. We used players with little experience and sometimes that tells." – Cagliari coach Di Francesco said.
Team Performance Analysis
Overall this was a dominant display from Juventus. For the first time in 10 games, Juventus looked comfortable in their transitions and ball movement. Their intention was clear from the very first minute of the game. The front four Ronaldo, Frederico Bernadeschi, Dejan Kulusevski and Alvaro Morata looked comfortable. This is their first start together in Serie A and perhaps Pirlo has finally found his preferred men in the attack. These three also suits Cristiano Ronaldo. They create spaces for him and all of them have the capability to drop deep and let Ronaldo take the charge of the attack. Arthur and Rabiot were the double pivots in their midfield. Arthur occasionally dropped very deep and initiated the attacks from their own half. He looked like the version we saw in Barcelona. He was fearless and didn’t hesitate to take risks. Cuadrado looks like a new man under Pirlo. He virtually played as a midfielder. His in behind runs and recovery runs created an ample amount of space for Kulusevski. Even the combination of Cuadrado and Kulusevski created 3 clear chances for Juventus. In defense long term injured player Mathias De ligt returned to the side and displayed a formidable partnership with Merih Demiral. Merih Demiral stepped up and organized their defense with superb structure. He did what Bonucci and Chellini has been doing for Juventus for a very long term. The guy even instructed Cristiano inside the box during the corner. He is a dominating presence inside the box during set-pieces. De Ligt and Demiral will give a run to Bonucci and Chellini for their spot.