STADIO PAOLO MAZZA (Ferrara) – Juventus ensured that their place atop the Serie A table would last another week without being troubled as they won away to struggling SPAL on Saturday evening.
It was by no means easy for the Old Lady, but thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo and Aaron Ramsey’s strikes they had enough to overcome the Biancazzurri.
Divine Dybala and Ramsey’s role
Paulo Dybala was almost unstoppable in Emilia-Romagna and the only thing his game was missing was a goal.
He had a curling effort bounce off the inside of the post and out in the first half, played a fine through ball for Ronaldo to score only to be flagged offside and he was pulling the strings and roaming all over the pitch in the first half.
After the break he did more of the same, splitting SPAL open with through balls and mazing runs, and he was a constant pain even if he didn’t score himself.
He got the assist for Aaron Ramsey’s goal though, slotting a clever ball into the area from the right.
The Welshman himself looked refreshed and did very well, deserving his goal in the end and he could have had it just moments before his delicate chip beat Etrit Berisha as he curled a shot wide.
Inter in Cristiano’s sights
Cristiano Ronaldo drew level with Fabio Quagliarella and Gabriel Batistuta’s shared record of Serie A’s longest scoring run in consecutive games in Ferrara, bagging for the 11th straight game of those he’s appeared in.
Still sometimes criticised for his contribution, attitude or whatever else fans of others sides want to throw at him, it has become impossible to deny that the Portuguese has done well in Italian football.
He ended the 2018/19 campaign with 21 Serie A goals, and he’s already levelled that tally in just 21 appearances this term.
Additionally, he became the joint highest scoring Portuguese player to have played in Serie A with his first half strike against SPAL, sitting level with Rui Costa now on 42.
As if his goalscoring exploits weren’t enough, the game was also his 1000th in football and he’s going into next weekend’s Derby d’Italia in fine form.
SPAL have something, but it doesn’t look like it’s enough
Luigi Di Biagio’s side looked different to how they had come to play under Leonardo Semplici, though that’s not a criticism of the former coach.
It’s clear that Semplici did a fine job with the Biancazzurri for a number of years, and Di Biagio is perhaps benefiting from a lot of his predecessor’s good work.
With Andrea Petagna up top they’re a side who can score goals, while playing Mattia Valoti and Gabriel Strefezza in behind him appeared to function reasonably well.
SPAL shouldn’t be bottom of Serie A, but here they are. They’re eight points from safety before Sunday’s games.
Now only Crotone in 2016/17 have ever survived the drop from a position this bad at this stage of the season, and it’s looking more likely than not that their 2020/21 plans are probably going to be made in Serie B.