It’s too early to declare the title race over. Too early to imagine Juventus’ outstanding run of consecutive Serie A crowns will yield an eighth. However the reigning champs took a protracted early-season stride in that route on Saturday.
Juve got here from behind to beat Napoli 3-1 in its first true take a look at of the 2018-19 season, and the primary conflict of respectable contenders. The Bianconeri went six factors clear on the high of the desk after simply seven weeks. They put their stamp on Serie A as soon as once more, asserted their Italian dominance as soon as once more.
And so they did all of it on the again of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo didn’t discover the again of the web. He missed a number of probabilities, and flung Portuguese expletives into the Torino evening even with three factors safe. However he created the equalizer. And the winner. And the clincher. He performed as full a recreation as one can with out scoring.
Juventus’ megastar rolled again the years to place aim No. 1 on a platter for Mario Mandzukic. He turned Napoli fullback Elseid Hysaj in and out on the left wing, simply as he would Premier League fullbacks final decade, and lifted a pinpoint cross onto Mandzukic’s head:
Dries Mertens had given Napoli a deserved lead inside 10 minutes. However the hosts seized the sport round halfway by means of the primary half.
They then doubled their lead shortly after halftime. Ronaldo struck the close to publish with a 25-yard drive. It rebounded proper into the trail of Mandzukic, who tapped in for a second.
After Mario Rui was despatched off, by way of a second yellow card, for a reckless deal with on Paulo Dybala, Leonardo Bonucci stabbed house a 3rd. It was Ronaldo’s flick, maybe headed for the far nook, on which the Italian defender pounced.
Juve was not and isn’t untouchable. Napoli is certainly not useless and buried.
However the challengers, below Carlo Ancelotti, lack the management and chew that they had below Maurizio Sarri. And the kings … effectively, they now have Ronaldo. They’re stronger. They’re excellent by means of seven video games. And it’s going to take fairly the rebellion to finish their run.