Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus Clinch 2019 Serie A Title Via Fiorentina Own Goal

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2019

TURIN, ITALY - APRIL 20: German Pezzella of ACF Fiorentina challenges Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus during the Serie A match between Juventus and ACF Fiorentina on April 20, 2019 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images)
Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo helped Juventus secure an eighth Serie A title in a row after his cross was turned into his own goal by Fiorentina centre-back German Pezzella in a 2-1 Bianconeri win at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday.

The visitors went in front after just six minutes thanks to Nikola Milenkovic, but Alex Sandro headed in an equaliser eight minutes before the break. In the 53rd minute, Ronaldo forced Pezzella's decisive mistake to become the first player to win the top-division titles in England, Spain and Italy.

Juve's victory gave them an unassailable 20-point lead over nearest rivals Napoli, prompting another round of title celebrations in Turin on a day of history for both Ronaldo and the club he joined from Real Madrid last summer:

Goal @goal

Premier League ✅ LaLiga ✅ Serie A ✅ Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the first man to win Europe's three major leagues 🏆🏆🏆 https://t.co/4YSjzjHK8x

B/R Football @brfootball

Juve are the first team in Europe's top five leagues to win eight consecutive league titles 🙌 https://t.co/Jm5jGtkUOl


Miralem Pjanic Crucial to Cristiano Ronaldo's Form Next Season

Ronaldo reportedly wants investment after Juve's UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Ajax. Yet bringing new players won't make the prolific No. 7 as happy as Juve keeping Miralem Pjanic out of the grasp of Real Madrid:

Arjun Pradeep @IndianRegista

🇮🇹 📰 | Front pages of Gazzetta, Corsport and Tuttosport headline on a Juventus revamp. Cristiano Ronaldo is furious & is waiting for reinforcements. CR7 remains the only guarantee for Juventus this summer. The club is already targeting to play the 2020 UCL final in Istanbul. https://t.co/e38MaZi2io

Pjanic is the only creative player in Juve's otherwise workmanlike midfield and is essential for creating the kind of chances Ronaldo needs more of next season.

Juve's central playmaker proved his worth again when he sent a corner onto the head of Sandro for a first-half equaliser. The latest assist only added to an already impressive collection of numbers:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Miralem Pjanic vs Jordan Veretout Will Pjanic help Juventus to their eighth successive title when they host Fiorentina this evening? Full match preview -- https://t.co/GuBbLTrQL4 https://t.co/KchDH4ejwd

Pjanic wasn't done manufacturing chances, teeing up Juan Cuadrado soon after the goal. The winger blazed over, but Pjanic continued in the same vein in the second half, giving Emre Can a headed opportunity and releasing Federico Bernardeschi with a through pass.

It was no coincidence Juve lacked tempo and imagination going forward once Pjanic made way for the more defensive-minded Rodrigo Bentancur on 65 minutes.

Ronaldo knows the value of Pjanic, having benefited from his assist to score in the 2-1 defeat to Ajax on Tuesday. It may have been a losing effort, but Pjanic proved his worth:

Stats Football @statsfootbal

Miralem Pjanic most effective player for Juventus 🆚 Ajax in the first half. 🔘 Accurate passes: 27 (81.8) 🔘 Key passes: 3 🔘 Total Point: 7.6 #JUVAJA https://t.co/YJ2Xrasa6p

Whether he starts or takes on a cameo role, the way he did during a win over AC Milan on April 6, Pjanic is the player who regularly makes the Bianconeri tick in the final third:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Miralem Pjanic’s game by numbers vs. AC Milan: 30 minutes played 4 chances created 3 ball recoveries 1 interception 1 assist Created twice as many chances as any other Juve player despite playing just 30 minutes. 🙌 https://t.co/OXkGoqHYFU

Ronaldo needs a player who can create chances at this rate. While his first season in Turin has yielded 25 goals and 10 assists in all competitions, Ronaldo will be even more effective with better supply.

As his pace continues to deteriorate, the 34-year-old is going to become increasingly reliant on his instincts in the box. Those instincts need to be coaxed by a midfielder with an eye for a pass as keen as Pjanic's.


What's Next?

Juve are away to Inter Milan next Saturday. Fiorentina travel to Atalanta for the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final on Thursday, with the aggregate score even at 3-3 but La Viola trailing on away goals.