Despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s mind-blowing stats this season, the Juventus star’s performances have largely gone under the radar.
A thunderous goal from Cristiano Ronaldo against Genoa left him just a goal shy of becoming the first Juventus player since Omar Sivori in 1960/61 to hit the 25-goal mark in a single campaign.
The 3-1 victory on Tuesday also moved Ronaldo a step closer to a second consecutive Serie A title. But if there’s one thing that doesn’t get enough credit, it’s the forward’s performances.
From being written off as ‘past it’ several times to struggles under the changes deployed at Juventus this season, Ronaldo has come out glowing. These trials have arguably strengthened him. Most impressive of all is that he’s 35 years old.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has joined a growing trend of ageing athletes still capable of competing at the highest level.
Such examples include Tom Brady (NFL), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Football), Roger Federer (Tennis), Lionel Messi (Football), Megan Rapinoe (Football), Serena and Venus Williams (Tennis).
The old belief that athletes peak in their mid-20s and are ‘past it’ by 30 is no more. These exceptional individuals are proving us otherwise, with Ronaldo leading the way in the football world. His displays for Juventus and Portugal this season justify it.
Yet, there is still a growing sense that his achievements are being overlooked for the nine penalties he’s scored.
Critics often lay into him for being ‘arrogant’, ‘selfish’, ‘not a team player’ and scoring too many penalties. Is any of that true? Not at all. He’s simply doing what’s expected of him – to score loads of goals.
Count Ronaldo out at your own peril
As Cristiano Ronaldo has proved countless times in the past, he can never be underestimated. That famous elite mentality and will to never give up always ensures he comes out on top.
The former Manchester United star continues to roll back the years in breathtaking fashion. A tally of 24 goals in 25 games in arguably Europe’s toughest defensive league is outstanding. And the best could still be yet to come.
He hasn’t had the same luxury afforded to him as Ciro Immobile has enjoyed at Lazio either.
The Serie A’s leading goalscorer has had the wonderful fortune of playing in a team suited to his strengths. This is a key area Ronaldo is still lacking. It doesn’t hurt having strong teammates like the league’s assist leader Luis Alberto either.
Lazio have also mostly saved Immobile for domestic fixtures. Therefore, he’s only featured periodically in other competitions like the Europa League.
* Ciro Immobile Europa League stats below.
The Neapolitan only started three times as Lazio crashed out of the group stages. Ronaldo, on the other hand, has played almost every minute of Juventus’ Champions League campaign.
It’s also worth noting that Immobile has scored TWO more penalties than his Portuguese counterpart.
Problems at Juve
Juventus are no longer the same well oiled-machine of the Massimiliano Allegri and Antonio Conte days.
New coach Maurizio Sarri has struggled to get the best out of his squad. It’s been a recurring theme all season, thus leaving the club heavily reliant on Ronaldo’s goals.
The former Chelsea boss’ tactics are sometimes too one-dimensional as well. He favours making things happen in the middle instead of down the flanks; where Ronaldo normally plays.
Injuries early in the season also hindered the forward’s campaign. They may have even cost him more goals.
But that didn’t stop Ronaldo from starring in typical CR7 fashion.
He embarked on a record-equalling run of scoring in 11 consecutive Serie A games before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the season’s suspension. And despite a sluggish return to action, he’s once again firing on all cylinders.
Surpassing Rui Costa as the highest-scoring Portuguese footballer in the Italian league’s history was the first of potentially many achievements Ronaldo can accomplish this season.