After each matchday in La Liga and Serie A (as well as in the UEFA Champions League), Sportsnet will look at how Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo did, and compare their performances, while keeping a running tally over the course of the season.
The Portuguese star was blanked in his home debut for Juventus, and is still looking for his first goal in Serie A after two games. But, he registered five shots during Juve’s 2-0 home win over Lazio on Saturday, three of which were on target, and he had one of his attempts brilliantly turned away by goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha.
Unlike last week’s match when he was the lone forward in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Ronaldo originally started as the spearhead of a 4-3-3 setup on Saturday, before eventually trading places with Mario Mandzukic and taking over the spot on the left of Juve’s front three.
Ronaldo was pretty quiet in the first half and had only one touch in Lazio’s penalty area box. But the switch seemed to do Ronaldo good, as he looked lively down the left side in the second half, and he was given license to roam and attack down the opposite flank.
Ronaldo came close to opening his Serie A account in the 75th minute when Joao Cancelo played a ball across to him, but Strakosha did just enough to stop Ronaldo from tapping home from inside the six-yard box. Strakosha’s deflection ricocheted off Ronaldo and fell to Mandzukic, who slotted it into an empty net. Though he didn’t know much about it, Ronaldo was credited with the assist.
“It’s only two weeks that he’s with us,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri told reporters afterwards.
“He’s intelligent and understands that Italian football is different to that in Spain. Today he played well also in defence, everyone is waiting for his first goal. I’m happy with how he’s fitting in.”
The Argentine had a quiet night, as did many of his Barcelona teammates, in a 1-0 win away to Real Valladolid. The poor state of the bumpy pitch at the Jose Zorrilla Stadium made it difficult for everybody involved – passes went astray, players lost their footing, and shots were mishit. Messi looked down to the ground in despair after ballooning a free kick high over the crossbar.
“This was shameful, there was a risk that players could be hurt,” Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said of the pitch. “I hope those responsible for this take action because it was pitiful.”
Maybe the poor pitch was one of the reasons why Real Valladolid limited Messi to just one shot (and it wasn’t even on target) and why the Argentine never got going in the match.
In the opening half, Messi had only made one touch in the hosts’ penalty area, and lost possession 14 times, behind only teammate Oumane Dembele (16).
Lionel Messi in La Liga
Top line stats: 2 goals, 0 assists, 2 games played
Total minutes: 180
Total shots: 9
Shots on target: 4
Pass success rate: 80.8%
WhoScored.com rating: 8.37 (ranked #6 in La Liga)
Cristiano Ronaldo in Serie A
Top line stats: 0 goals, 1 assists, 2 games played
Total minutes: 180
Total shots: 14
Shots on target: 7
Pass success rate: 90%
WhoScored.com rating: 7.82 (ranked #11 in Serie A)
MATCHDAY 2: MESSI OR RONALDO?
Ronaldo was far more involved in Juventus’ attack than Messi was for Barcelona, and though it was somewhat fortuitous, the Portuguese did manage to collect an assist.
Advantage: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Season series to date: Tied 1-1.
Juventus is on the road next Saturday to take on Parma, who are back in Serie A this season following a three-year absence. The next day, Lionel Messi and Barcelona welcome newly promoted Huesca to the Camp Nou.