Cristiano Ronaldo turned hero once again, inspiring a late comeback as Juventus sealed a vital 2-1 win over Udinese on Sunday.
It was an important result that helped Juventus stay in the fight for the top four, which could be crucial, especially in the current financial climate and indeed, in the aftermath of the failed ‘European Super League’ debacle.
The Bianconeri, though, were far from the better side in this game, as Udinese completely rattled them with their attacking intent, especially in the first half. Their pressure was even rewarded with a goal from Nahuel Molina in the tenth minute of the game, causing all sorts of problems for the opposition.
Juventus had very little in response and weren’t really able to offer any real threat going forward. That was, until, the 83rd minute Cristiano Ronaldo’s free-kick attempt hit the arm of Rodrigo de Paul, leading to a penalty. The Portuguese made no mistake in converting the spot-kick, looking even more energized in the final phase of the game.
The defending champions then saw themselves pushing hard for the equaliser in the final ten minutes. They were ultimately rewarded in the 89th minute when Adrien Rabiot’s cross found Ronaldo for the winner, which was enough to seal all three points for the Bianconeri.
Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Juventus players in their hard-fought comeback win over Udinese this weekend.
Wojciech Szczesny: 6/10
Wojciech Szczesny didn’t have the best of games as he was worked quite a lot by the Udinese attack. He had to remain alert all the time and even though the Juventus goalkeeper wasn’t culpable for the conceded goal, there was slight confidence lacking in his game. One can hardly blame him, especially amid speculations that suggest a move away from Turin.
Danilo looked vulnerable at times when the opposition attackers came knocking on his doors. He struggled to cope with Tolgay Arslan, in particular, making it easier for Udinese to cause problems for the Juventus backline. Needs to produce more refined performances in the upcoming matches.
#SerieA | ¡GOL DE UDINESE, NAHUEL MOLINA!
Combinación 🇦🇷 Argentina en Udinese, Rodrigo De Paul con pura viveza madruga a toda la defensa de Juventus para servirle el gol a Nahuel Molina. pic.twitter.com/Rcy5M3CH7k
— En el VAR (@EnElVar) May 2, 2021
Matthijs de Ligt: 6/10
Matthijs de Ligt certainly wasn’t culpable for the Nahuel Molina goal. On the contrary, he tried to marshall his defensive teammates and to pay attention, but they were nowhere to be seen. Other than the goal, the Dutchman was given a tough fight by Stefano Okaka, but he fared well in that personal duel. Not the worst-performing defender for Juventus in this clash.
Leonardo Bonucci: 4.5/10
As the most experienced player in the team, one could expect much more leadership and accountability by Leonardo Bonucci, who simply switched in the quick free-kick that led to Molina’s equaliser. The veteran had occasional difficulties dealing with Okaka’s physical pressure, though nothing untoward happened.
Alex Sandro: 4/10
Alex Sandro was completely caught off-guard with the quick free-kick. It seemed as though the fullback was moving in centrally, expecting a cross into the box. It allowed acres of space for Molina as his thumping effort beat Szczesny for the Udinese opener. Aside from the goal, Sandro also struggled to offer any real penetration going forward and his days at Juventus might soon be the over.
Juan Cuadrado: 6.5/10
Juan Cuadrado tried his best to create chances in the final third for Juventus. His willingness to take on defenders, using his quick feet was a welcome sight for Juventus fans, as it somewhat layered the mediocrity of the entire team. Unfortunately, Cuadrado often got isolated and may have been a bit smarter in regards to his runs forward.
Just awful Udinese mistakes for both goals. Great effort and reaction from Cuadrado to draw a foul and earn the FK leading to the first. Great run and cross from Rabiot on the second. Quiet down with this “Ronaldo FC” stuff. Making it hard for me to enjoy a massive 3 points.
— Caleb Turrentine (@CalebTurrentine) May 2, 2021
Rodrigo Bentancur: 5/10
Rodrigo Bentancur was simply not competent enough to deal with the Udinese midfield. He was completely walked over by Rodrigo de Paul, for the most part, struggling to offer any kind of solidity at the base of Juventus’ 4-4-2. It might have been a bad call from Andrea Pirlo, though, as the midfielder did indeed lack support from his teammates.
Weston McKennie: 4.5/10
Weston McKennie was the one that partnered Bentancur in the 4-4-2, but the young American was given a more attacking role in the side. He was mostly seen trying to carry the ball or at least release players into spaces with his forward passes. None of them were particularly effective, however, and the midfielder should have been much more aware of the game’s situation.
Federico Bernardeschi: 4/10
Federico Bernardeschi was completely ineffective in the left hand side of the Juventus attack. The Italian is not the best of players when it comes to offering penetration going forward and it was evident with his performance against Molina. Another poor, inconsistent and lacklustre display from the winger, whose future in Turin remains uncertain.
Paulo Dybala: 5.5/10
Paulo Dybala’s ability to work in tight spaces and his quality as a snapshooter gave Juventus fans some hope during the early stages of the game. The attacker, though, failed to offer any real penetration or to even threaten Simone Scuffet in goal, for that matter. He was taken off midway through the second half, as Pirlo brought on Alvaro Morata.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 7/10
Cristiano Ronaldo had a poor game for the most part. Like his many other teammates, the Portuguese sensation offered no real threat to the Udinese goal. Even his free-kick was poor and it was somewhat lucky that it hit the arms of the defender, leading to a penalty.
🚨| Cristiano Ronaldo (99) has now scored as many goals as Paulo Dybala for Juventus. pic.twitter.com/jFEvIAnGo8
— TeamCRonaldo. (@TeamCRonaldo) May 2, 2021
After scoring the resultant spot-kick, though, Ronaldo turned into a different beast. He looked determined to get the winner and asked teammates to whip in crosses into the box, one of which led to the winner, albeit thanks to some shoddy piece of goalkeeping from Scuffet, who….scuffed the save.
Dejan Kulusevski: 6/10
Dejan Kulusevski looked much more dynamic than Bernardeschi after coming on around the hour mark. Although he couldn’t manage to impact the game, his intent was a welcome sight for the Bianconeri.
Alvaro Morata: 6.5/10
Alvaro Morata offered more physical presence in the final third after replacing Dybala in the second half. It might have played an important role in helping Juventus push for the comeback.
Adrien Rabiot: N/A
Whipped in a brilliant cross for Ronaldo to grab an assist for the winner. Should have started the game ahead of McKennie, but didn’t play enough to warrant a rating.
Felix Correia: N/A
A late replacement for Cuadrado. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.