To the mere observer, three games without a goal for Cristiano Ronaldo seems like a problem. However, for those that have studied his fledgling Juventus career, it can be seen that the Portuguese captain is enjoying his football more than ever.
Always the talisman at Real Madrid, the pressure for him to perform was ridiculous. Even with a near unbelievable 450 goals in 438 games, fans of Los Blancos still complained if their number 7 hit a rough patch.
Now in Turin, it appears that Cristiano is loving the adoration he has been getting. Seemingly happy just to have him at their club, it could be suggested that Juve fans appreciate his talents far more than the Real supporters ever did.
It is often said that you don't know what you have until it's gone. After their 4-2 defeat to city rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, the royal whites of Spain's capital may have started to question what they'd lost. Unrelenting professionals with an addiction to win can be found, but very few, if any, can match those attributes with Ronaldo's technical ability.
Nevertheless, CR7's time with Real Madrid is over. It was a great story while it lasted, but the passion for a new challenge has landed him at the doorstep of I Bianconeri. Scoring after 8 minutes of a preseason friendly, everybody thought it was to be same old Cristiano in Serie A. Although, the division that has been historically known for phenomenal defensive work had different ideas.
Now at 270 minutes of scoreless football, it is fair to say that Ronaldo will be personally frustrated with his fortunes in front of goal. However, now aged 33, he's been around the block enough times to realise they will come sooner rather than later. Anyway, if Cristiano is feeling a disappointment, he's most definitely not showing it.
While his first competitive match against Chievo Verona left a lot to be desired, winning in gameweek 1 was no doubt the main objective. Going into his home debut against Lazio, there was a lot of pressure on Ronaldo to perform. He did, but just not in the way everybody expected.
Fantastic throughout, Ronaldo played slightly behind man mountain Mario Mandzukic. Acquiescing a forward role to his Croatian teammate, the five time Ballon d'Or winner was always in the right spot to help out. Clearly following coach Max Allegri's tactical vision, Ronaldo worked across the pitch with a very different style from his days in Madrid.
Intelligent passing and off-the-ball movement allowed space for others, with his new found tenacity when it came to tracking back showing you are never too old to develop another skill. An incredible save from goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha saw Ronaldo denied early in the second half, as a rasping drive was dipping in before the Albanian got fingertips to the shot.
I like when you push Ronaldo to the wall. Man will beast up— EZIGBO (@Nkezigbo) August 30, 2018
For his golden moment, Ronaldo saw himself latching onto Joao Cancelo's low driven cross and tapping into an open net. However, the menacing 6'4 frame of Strakosha allowed the shot stopper to divert the ball ever so slightly. Now in front of the pass, Ronado trailed his right boot to make contact, but remarkably saw it bounce back up off his left heel. A perfect, yet completely accidental assist for Mandzukic, Cristiano's striking partner smashed home into an open goal.
This was a moment where the change in Ronaldo's on field personality was most evident. For Real, there would've been every chance of a tantrum at this missed opportunity. Howbeit, at the very same end he was applauded for scoring an incredible overhead kick only months earlier for his previous side, a gigantic grin appeared on Cristiano's face.
He laughed about the misfortune, throwing his hands into the air in disbelief before going on to celebrate with his teammates. This confirmed what many had hoped, Ronaldo was playing for Juventus, not himself. With this small yet poignant act, the Madeira-born forward no doubt earned the respect of many who had formerly held Real Madrid-based hostilities.
After his performance, Ronaldo's coach Max Allegri come out with some agreeable statements (quoted via ESPN): "Italian football is completely different to in Spain. Ronaldo understands that and he is settling in very well,"
Yes, he was average in spells against Parma, and yes he's scored 0 goals from 22 shots. However, sometimes it's the things people don't see. One of the first to congratulate both Mario Mandzukic and Blaise Matuidi for their goals this weekend, Ronaldo is bedding into Juve's squad nicely.
Matuidi on Cristiano: “For us it is something exceptional to play with him, we are very happy to play with him, we have to understand him & he must understand us, his game is very mobile & we have to improve our understanding.” [@khaledalnouss1] pic.twitter.com/OBwF9wNR6x— Cristiano Ronaldo 🏳️🏴 (@CRonaldoNews) August 25, 2018
Anyway, it can take time to adapt to a new league and anybody that doubts Cristiano's capabilities has probably never watched the game before. People who suggest he's been greedy and a scourge of Juve so far are either Twitter trolls or lazy highlight watchers.
After the international break next week, I Bianconeri host Sassuolo on Sunday, 16th of September. Cristiano Ronaldo will score his first goal in Juventus colours that day, and everybody associated with the club are to be glad of it. Despite that, those who understand Max Allegri's mindset can tell you all that matters is CR7's multifaceted contribution.
A lot of people are enticed by the battle for individual honours, and it's something Ronaldo has been guilty of prioritising in prior years. While the media like to constantly hype up his created rivalry with Lionel Messi, one thing the two do share is a want for this year's Champions League trophy.
You can debate who's better until the cows come home, but one thing is for sure. It's feasible these two won't score the most goals for their respective clubs this season — although you might not want to bet against it — but they'll definitely be the most influential players.