Cristiano Ronaldo has got his Serie A campaign off to a winning start, following his $117m move from Real Madrid to Italian giants Juventus.
The reigning champions came from behind to snatch a dramatic 3-2 victory over Chievo in their opening league match on Saturday, although the Portuguese superstar was not among the scorers in his first match for the Italian side.
Sami Khedira scored an early opener as Juventus took control in Verona, only to be stunned by Mariusz Stepinski’s header on 38 minutes and fall behind when their former winger Emanuele Giaccherini converted a penalty on 56.
An own goal from Mattia Bani put Juve level again at 2-2. Ronaldo forced two tough saves from veteran goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino before substitute Federico Bernardeschi turned in a low cross in stoppage time.
“He is settling in well and he’s a simple lad to deal with,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri told a news conference in Turin before the match. It’s only natural that the more we play together, the better things will get, and this will only benefit the team.
“However, we must not think that just because we’ve got Ronaldo, we’ll win. We still need to prove that Juventus are technically better now.”
Following the move to Italy, the 33-year-old, who scored 451 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid, has shown no signs of resting on his laurels.
“I am going to prove that I am a top player,” said Ronaldo. “I am very ambitious and I like challenges.”
Ronaldo joined Real in 2009 from English side Manchester United and won two Spanish titles and four Champions Leagues with the club in addition to a host of individual awards.
But he hinted his time at the Santiago Bernabeu could be up immediately after the last Champions League success and Juventus captured his signature.
‘Raise the level’
Much is expected of Ronaldo’s presence in the Italian league this season after the low of Italy missing out on qualifying for the World Cup in Russia.
“He’s going to raise the level of the championship,” said Italian football legend Dino Zoff.
“Everyone can benefit. With Ronaldo, all eyes will be on us and Serie A can regain ground. His purchase will result in the arrival of other big names to Serie A.”
Ahead of Saturday’s game, Chievo coach Lorenzo D’Anna was wary of the opposition as well as the threat that Ronaldo posed but remained confident of his side’s ability to contain the Portuguese.
“If you think you can stop Ronaldo one-against-one, you will lose 100 times out of 100. You can stop him with the whole defence, and cutting his supply of chances to go forward.”