Juventus

Life without Cristiano Ronaldo isn't easy - but Juventus will be better off in the long run

Max Cooper
Allegri needs to lead Juventus into a new era
Allegri needs to lead Juventus into a new era / Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images
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Break ups are never easy, especially when your ex, who's rocking 334 million followers on Instagram, decides to jump straight back into bed with an old flame.

And as far as demonstrations of post-break up strength go, Juventus' limp display against Empoli couldn't have been any more embarrassing.

All eyes were on how the Bianconeri would cope without superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in their side for the very first time, and rather them proving they'd moved on, the Old Lady played like they were suffering from a heartache related hangover.

Juve fell to a historic 1-0 defeat to newly-promoted Empoli at the Allianz Stadium, demonstrating all the defensive panic and insecurities shown in their 2-2 draw with Udinese on Matchday One, but without the cutting edge to bail them out.

The Italian giants began the game well, with Federico Chiesa thriving as the star of the forward line. He forced Empoli shot-stopper Guglielmo Vicario into three excellent saves in the opening 25 minutes, and the fluid movement of the Italian and Paulo Dybala was causing all sorts of problems.

Then, disaster struck. A bobbling ball was controlled in the area by Leonardo Mancuso, and he had all the time and space in the world to slam home and stun the hosts. From then on, Juve were in panic mode.

Patrick Cutrone, Leonardo Mancuso
Celebrations / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

The fluid attacking system that would not have worked so seamlessly with Ronaldo at its heart was suddenly absent, and the hapless forwards were looking around for someone to dig them out of a hole.

That man was nowhere to be seen. Juve hardly created another meaningful opportunity over the course of the 90 minutes, and were often second best to a side that had only just returned to the top flight of Italian football.

Boos, jeers and whistles met the referee's signal for the end of the game, and all the chat swiftly shifted onto the Bianconeri's lack of a world-class goalscorer.

Cristiano Ronaldo
No Ronaldo this time / Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

The truth is, Ronaldo probably would have made a difference on a night like this. He had an excellent record against most teams in Serie A, but particularly against sides in the bottom half of the table. In need of a goal, he would have been on hand to pounce in the area, or frighten the Empoli defence into leaving another Juve star unattended.

It would have been different, and in the short-term, three points - or even one point - is better than none. But in the long run, this over-reliance was doing Juve no good. They weren't living happily with Ronaldo in their side.

He was enough to get them over the line in so many matches, purely down to his unbelievable, individual goalscoring instinct and undeniable ability.

But Juve weren't fully functioning. His strengths didn't suit the team, and the quality of player around him was decreasing each year, as they attempted to cover his gargantuan wages.

Ronaldo was a really expensive Rolex watch, placed on the wrist of a man who couldn't tell the time. He was flashy, he attracted others and looked impressive, but in the end, he just wasn't the right purchase for the owner.

Juve's need for a rebuild has been apparent for some time, but having the Portuguese superstar in their midst made that impossible. Now is the time to let the squad heal and find a new, healthier and more enjoyable way of winning matches - even if it comes at a short-term cost of dropped points.


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