Cristiano Ronaldo hit double figures in seven straight Champions League campaigns with Real Madrid before making the switch to Juventus last summer. Last season alone, he netted 15 times as he helped power the Spanish giants to their 13th elite European trophy. beating Liverpool 3-1 in the final.
This term, Juve have already secured progression to the knockout phase, but Ronaldo only has one goal to his name. So why has he found it harder to hit the target in Europe since moving to Italy?
On the domestic scene, CR7 had a slow start in Serie A, but now has 10 goals from a total of 15 starts. That’s just one behind Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek and level with Lazio’s Ciro Immobile who claimed the Capocannoniere award last year. As a result, the Portuguese frontman has been installed as favourite to be 2018/19 top goal scorer in the sports betting markets.
These figures show that it is only in Europe where Ronaldo’s strike rate has suffered. But that could have a lot to do with the different approach the Italians have taken to the competition compared with Real Madrid. Where Los Blancos dominated teams with ruthless waves of attack, the Bianconeri have been more measured, just doing enough to get them over the line.
Ronaldo averaged over a goal a game in the Champions League for Real Madrid. Based on that, he should have five already this season but has only found the net once. Even in his first season at the Bernabeu, he managed seven goals from six appearances in the competition.
Getting sent off in the first match against Valencia wasn’t the perfect start and meant Ronaldo had to watch on as fellow striker Paulo Dybala filled his boots scoring a hat-trick at home to Young Boys. That match may have provided him with the platform to get off the mark.
The follow-up game at Old Trafford saw him draw another blank before he finally found the net in the reverse fixture in Turin. Unfortunately, it was not enough to prevent defeat to Jose Mourinho’s men as a late strike from Juan Mata and an own goal from Leo Bonucci left Juve empty-handed.
A home game against Valencia also ended in frustration for Ronaldo, although Juventus still grabbed the win thanks to a goal from Mario Mandzukic. The Old Lady ended their group stage campaign with 2-1 defeat to Young Boys in which Dybala found the target once again, Ronaldo providing the assist.
The most important thing for Juventus is that they have qualified for the knockout stages. But one of the biggest incentives they had for bringing Ronaldo to Turin was the advantage he could give them in the Champions League. They may have finished top of their group, but it has been Dybala’s goals that have carried them through.
If Juve are to achieve their dream of winning their first European Cup since 1996, they will need the former Manchester United and Real Madrid attacker to be fire on all cylinders as they enter the next phase.