When Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines for heading to Juventus in 2018, wild speculation followed the star. After a legendary career in Madrid, the 33-year-old striker looked to be readying for his imminent retirement with his move to Turin to join Juventus.
Can Juventus Top Their 90s Run with Ronaldo?
Even so, much excitement followed Ronaldo as, even in his later years, the star has yet to disappoint when it comes to strong leadership on the field, netting goals, and driving up the energy in whatever stadium he walks into. However, Ronaldo wasn’t joining just any team.
His move to the Bianconeri signaled the club’s latest rise to the top tier of European football. Following historic runs in the 80s and 90s with top players like Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane, Juventus became one of Italy’s most talented and followed Serie A clubs.
Under Marcello Lippi, the club soared, taking home multiple Serie A championships, as well as the club’s first Supercoppa Italiana, a Champions League victory, a UEFA Super Cup title, and even an Intercontinental Cup. Following Lippi’s brief return, Juventus faced downfall after downfall.
For nearly a decade in the 2000s, Juventus struggled with a demotion to Serie B, followed by a slow reintroduction to the top tier of Italian football. At the time, only bettors willing to go out on a limb or use a bonus offer, such as a BetMGM promo code, would wager on the Le Zebre. In 2011,
Antonio Conte and Giorgio Chiellini would begin turning the team’s fate around until the Ronaldo trade cemented their triumphant rise back up. But is Ronaldo’s move to Turin everything it’s chalked up to be? Or is the star’s light fading with Juventus? Let’s take a deeper dive.
A Slow Start in 2018-19
Juventus broke records in contracting Ronaldo in 2018. Not only was the €112 million deal the largest payment any club has made for a player over 30 years old, but it also topped the record for payment by an Italian club.
Needless to say, the hype surrounding the move drew in excitement and skepticism in even portions from fans and pundits. With three recent Champions League titles under his belt from his time with Madrid, the Bianconeri fans readied themselves for the first interclub title since 1996.
However, Ronaldo’s debut season with Juventus went slower than expected. In fact, with only 21 goals in 30 games with the club, the star striker posted his slowest goal season in fifteen years.
Fans and pundits alike chalked the touch-and-go start to things like adjusting to a new club, nursing a hamstring injury, and comparing the slow start to Ronaldo’s first years with Madrid, where he needed four years to help turn out a championship-winning team.
By the 2019-20 season, Ronaldo seemed to have found his footing with the club. He netted 37 goals across all Juventus competitions to break the club’s scoring history. But after a career scoring 450 goals in just 438 appearances with Real Madrid, the numbers didn’t lie.
Ronaldo had slowed down and, though not shocking to hear for a player well into their thirties, the clock is ticking for Ronaldo to prove naysayers wrong.
There’s only one way to accomplish this: a Champions League title. Unfortunately for Ronaldo, he just got even farther from that goal with the club’s recent elimination by Porto in March 2021.
Champions League Flops
Ronaldo wasn’t brought to Juventus to create a winning team. That already existed with players like Paolo Dybala, Papu Gomez, Romelu Lukaku, and Ciro. In fact, a 2020 ranking from Goal 50 placed all four Juventus stars above Ronaldo.
Under Antonio Conte and then Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus went unbeaten all the way back in 2011-12, beginning the club’s 2010s legacy with multiple scudettos and Coppa Italia wins. They even came close to a second Champions League win before Ronaldo and Real Madrid took a decisive 4-1 win back in 2017.
The team had star talent without Ronaldo and certainly didn’t need a striker to help them dominate the Serie A. Instead, what the Bionconeri were after was that illustrious Champions League title.
Since joining, Ronaldo has failed three times to take Juventus to a championship and, along the way, has seen two more managers fall by the wayside, including Allegri’s dismissal in 2019 and replacement Maurizio Sarri’s dismissal in 2020.
In 2019, the team bowed out to Ajax after losing two of three games; in 2020, they fell to Lyons despite winning 2-1 in match two; and recently they lost to Porto in March 2021.
Those embittered by Ronaldo’s failure to take Juventus to a championship match were angered further, as Porto’s game-winning goal stemmed from Ronaldo turning his back on a free-kick.
The Lippi Legacy: More than Scudettos
Looking at the numbers, it’s still possible that the current Juventus squad could top Lippi’s team from the 90s (though they’ll definitely need a UEFA title). However, it doesn’t seem likely that the modern Bianconeri will be able to recreate the emotion that followed the football team in 90s Turin.
The main reason is that the squad was centered around Marcello Lippi’s managerial style, whose ideologies bled into how the team worked together and developed. But Lippi’s commanding air transcended the football pitch. He was known in Turin for his fashion sense, personality, and good looks, a style that seemed to transform the football club.
Even Sir Alex Ferguson found himself in awe of the Italian manager. Unfortunately for the current Bianconeri, the focus isn’t on a strong manager, but a legendary player. With two managers already discarded since Ronaldo joined the club, it could be that the emphasis is placed on the striker rather than the team’s dynamic.
Blending personal life with sport, Lippi was close with his players. And though it didn’t always pan out well (just ask Roberto Baggio), he fostered a sense of community on the field and helped create a strong foundation of teamwork.
Without an iconic manager, it’s unlikely Juventus will reach the notoriety it once had in the 90s. However, that may not be what the club is after today. For the past few years, the goal has been singular for Juventus: bring home another UEFA title. Unfortunately, it’ll have to wait until 2022.