Valencia vs Juventus Champions League Preview

Valencia vs Juventus Preview: Ketchup for Ronaldo’s return?

“Goals are like ketchup: all comes out at once”. If Cristiano Ronaldo applies the analogy that he launched back in 2010, after ten games without scoring for Portugal, then Valencia have reasons to be worried.

Cristiano finally scored for Juventus, against Sassuolo (as Massimo Allegri had predicted), and in a double dose. The Portuguese star overthrew the psychological barrier, and just three days before his return to Spain. Definitely not good news for Valencia, against whom Ronaldo has already scored fifteen goals, with eight of them at Mestalla.

Ironically, it’s in Spain, where Cristiano Ronaldo lived for the last nine years, that begins this European journey of a “vecchia signora” with renewed ambition with the arrival of the Portuguese. “If you can’t beat him, sign him” must have been the idea of the Italian leaders, who advanced for the most popular transfer of the summer. Juventus don’t want only internal hegemony and looked for the missing piece to regain European glory.

Even with a spotless record so far – four wins in four games and solo leader in Serie A – Massimo Allegri is still looking for the best way to fit Cristiano into the team. The coach first chose him as “9”, with Dybala on the back and Cuadrado and Douglas Costas on the wings, but although the Portuguese has been an insatiable finisher over the years, this first game with Chievo left the impression that he needs company up front.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s dashboard for the 2017/18 Champions League, in which he was the best scorer of the competition for the sixth consecutive year (in 2014/15 he finished tied with Messi and Neymar).

This led to Mandzukic’s entry from the second game (Lazio), but also a reinforcement of the midfield. Dybala went to the bench, and only in this last game, with Sassuolo, Allegri put the Argentinian alongside Ronaldo and Mandzukic.

Mario Mandzukic’s dashboard for the 2017/18 Champions League, playing from the left (Higuaín as “9”)

Paulo Dybala’s dashboard for the 2017/18 Champions League

If the Portuguese moves from the left in to the area, the Croatian makes opposite movements, from inside to the right, with Dybala predominantly in the central zone. It’s a solution which asks for Matuidi’s balance closing the left side and João Cancelo’s irreverence to explore the right wing.

This unprecedented European duel will be special for the Portuguese right back, bought from Valencia, after a season loan to Inter. Cancelo even told Spanish fans to shut up in April 2017 (for which he later apologized), but this summer led to the entry of 40 million euros in Valencia’s safes.

It will be a party day at Mestalla, with the return to Champions League nights after three years of absence, but the atmosphere could be better. Valencia have not won any of their four matches (three draws and one defeat), and coach Marcelino García Toral also seems to be studying what’s the best way to employ his offensive weapons.

Gameiro has made the last two games alongside Rodrigo, but there is also Michy Batshuayi. And Gonçalo Guedes can make his first start since returning to Valencia, who paid 40 million euros to keep him after a season loan from Paris Saint-Germain. Although he prefers to play on the left wing, it seems more likely to see him play on the right side, as happened against Betis.

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