The loss of a player of Cristiano Ronaldo’s abilities, even in the latter stages of his glittering career, was always going to leave Juventus scrambling for goals. Massimiliano Allegri returned to the Turin giants with a job to do, and that job was to get the Old Lady of Italian football purring again and back up with the title chasers.
When a legend leaves a team it can have disastrous effects and can take years, perhaps decades, to return to the heights they reached previously. You see this in other sports all the time, for instance, the recent departure of Tom Brady from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has had an immediate effect on the franchise, as you can see from their latest betting odds here, and Juventus have had to look to others to fill the gap left by the departure of Ronaldo.
Juventus started the season poorly and has been outscored, by some distance, by the three teams ahead of them in the table (AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Napoli), but Allegri did secure in-form Serbian Dusan Vlahovic in the January transfer window as a means to bridging that gap.
The 22-year-old netted 21 Serie A goals last season and had already scored another 17 before moving to Juventus and transitioning well at the club. Vlahovic cost the club $78m in upfront fees, and he scored on his debut against Verona within 13 minutes.
He then followed that up with a double against Empoli but perhaps most impressively, he scored within 33 seconds of his Champions League debut to give Juventus a handy draw in their away leg to Villarreal and, in doing so, showed that he was capable of scoring at the very highest level.
Vlahovic is very much the complete package when it comes to his attacking abilities. He has the strength to hold off the attention of a defender as well as the creative ability to make something out of nothing, as well as being able to bring in his fellow teammates into the play.
Ronaldo, for many, was a calculated gamble Juventus made in order to secure a long-awaited Champions League trophy, and on that level, it can be deemed a failure, but that would be very harsh on the former Real Madrid man.
1996 was the last time Juventus lifted the Champions League and hoping that Ronaldo could bring that level of glory to the club was a step too far, but even a glance at his amazing strike rate in Italy shows that the Portuguese international wasn’t to blame for the lack of the prized silverware.
Ronaldo scored at a phenomenal rate throughout his time at Juventus, scoring 101 goals in 134 appearances over the course of his three seasons at the club. He led the club to back-to-back Serie A titles, and in the only season they didn’t win the Championship, he finished top scorer in the country.
Allegri takes over a Juventus side that is some way back from the top three, but he will make in-roads this season, and it’s a good idea not to write off the team for this season quite yet.
They may be seven points off the top, but they are unbeaten in 13 Serie A games and haven’t lost since mid-November and could still catch up with the pack, and with Vlahovic on hand to put away the chances, that’s not such a farfetched idea.
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