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The Art of Partnering Cristiano Ronaldo

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

From the very beginning of having Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the main concerns of Juventus executives has been to provide a team that fits the technical characteristics of the Portuguese superstar, especially in the attacking department. When a team has the luxury of being able to line up the best goal scorer in history, the main focus should be to build everything around him. That means Juventus needed a striker like Benzema, who is good at creating space for CR7, instead of a classic goal-scoring striker.

In the summer Mercato a dozen of strikers got linked with Juve but in the end, Paratici's searches lead to a familiar name: Alvaro Morata. Alvaro Morata had played for the Old Lady for a couple of years, so he was familiar with the atmosphere of Juventus and Serie A. Moreover, by having the experience of playing and training with Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid, he knew Ronaldo's movements and style of football very well.

Morata's duty in the offensive phase was to make space and to create scoring opportunities for Ronaldo, and in the defensive phase, it was to cover Ronaldo's low mobility with more running. Now, half a season later, it is possible to give an overview of Morata's performance.

So far into the season, Alvaro Morata has provided 6 assists which makes him the best striker and the 2nd best player in this category in Serie A. Among Serie A players only Henrikh Mkhitaryan did better. When looking at strikers in the top 5 leagues, only Harry Kane has provided more assists than the Spain international. No surprise that no Juventus player has assisted Ronaldo more than Morata, as 50% of Morata's assist to a goal for Ronaldo.

Unfortunately, no data statistic is able to illuminate the space creation which is Morata's biggest help for Ronaldo, but the eye test proves that Morata's space creation has been superb so far. There are many examples where Morata drags the defenders with him by his well-timed off-ball runs and where he leaves enough space in dangerous places for Ronaldo. It is often the case that Morata, with his clever placements, engages one or both of the opponent's center-backs to give Ronaldo the right space to do what he is best at, scoring goals.

In the defensive phase, Morata's main task is to give a hand in the pressing, resulting in him running more than normal strikers to make up for Ronaldo, who is now 36 years old. Furthermore, in this strange season, with teams playing every three days if he wants to run as much as a youngster and as a result, his efficiency decreases.