Juventus Top Performers – Round 18 vs Cagliari

Juventus kicked off 2020 in glorious fashion by finally playing up to their full potential and romping Cagliari at home, with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the way.

Merih Demiral (5 points): the Rossoblù hit the bar twice, one late and one when the game was one-nothing, but all in all a stout showing by the back-line, which did not have to labour thanks to the overall attitude of the squad, which kept possession ad nauseam and did a nice job in stopping the counters early. The young Turk always stands out little more than Leonardo Bonucci with his explosiveness and fast recoveries when somebody slips by. An okay outing for Alex Sandro as well down the left, albeit he did not do that much.

Juan Cuadrado (2 points): a showing that resembled his first ones at right back, as he was a constant thorn in the opponents’ side and an ever-present outlet for his teammates, providing his customary flurry of movements. Even if the decision making is a bit shoddy, his level of activity tends to make up for it. The midfield has been under scrutiny throughout the break but the abundant presence of technical players lifted everybody up today, as Miralem Pjanic, Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey were very at ease next to each other and clearly operate at the same wavelength.

The Bosnian was pretty great defensively with countless strips and seemed re-energized from the pause. Ramsey has some room for improvement, but nobody else knits the play the way he does out of the no.10 position and he picks his spots very adequately. Rabiot was the best out of the trio and his arrow continue to point upwards, his combination of size and skills was on full display today and he appears close to his peak physically. He has a rare elegance to him. Blaise Matuidi instead looked a bit out of place, but somebody has to chase after enemies after all.

Cristiano Ronaldo (16 points): Juventus messed around a little too much in the first half, but he made sure the problem did not carry into the second half, immediately capitalizing on a blunder for a goal that he made look easier than it was. He followed it up by canning a penalty, springing Gonzalo Higuain loose for the third goal and with another chippie, assembling his first hat-trick in black-and-white. He is going supernova in recent matches, with the Supercoppa as the only blemish, but it was a collective let-down there. Paulo Dybala made sweet music with the rest of the attackers and took it upon himself to put the game on ice by slyly weaving his way through defenders until one inevitably brough him down. Gonzalo Higuain rounded up the result with an easy finish after beating the offside trap and there were even signs of life out of Douglas Costa, who generated the final goal with a sprint and feed to Ronaldo. As evidenced by the result, it was the best performance of the season by the offense.

A little addendum on director Fabio Paratici’s words before the game on the transfer market: “Dejan Kulusevski has a huge future ahead of him, we pulled off a great purchase and it was a significant effort by the club. We would have liked him to bring him in in January but the terms of the negotiation were clear from the beginning, we knew he would stay at Parma. But it was key to secure him for the future.”

“I think I can rule out Emre Can leaving, he is important and he will stay. He received some offers but he is part of our project. We will not make any more purchases in January, the next deals will be in the summer. Adrien Rabiot did well against Sampdoria, he was the best man on the pitch there. We are confident in his value, we did not discover it ourselves. We have no doubts about him, he will stay as well.”

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