…as Napoli, Juve clash
After a grim start, Cristiano Ronaldo’s season has come alive following a blistering scoring spree but Kalidou Koulibaly will attempt to stop the phenomenal Portuguese in his stride when Napoli host Juventus in a mouthwatering Serie A clash on Sunday. Ronaldo cut a figure of a frustrated fellow when things weren’t going his way at the start of the season and the legend even saw his playing time significantly r educed by coach Maurizio Sarri who insisted his talismanic player was not at his best, a move that irked the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
The coach revealed that Ronaldo had problem with his knee and needed to rest so as to fast-track his healing but the Real Madrid all-time scorer wanted to play even with Portugal in order not to risk qualification for the European championship. However, the mid-season break in Serie A ensured a forced rest for Ronaldo and the result was spontaneous. The Portuguese hit an impressive hat trick in his first match of the year and has now scored whopping seven goals in just four games since the turn of the year.
The statistics is more encouraging when it is emphasized that he has scored 12 goals in his last eight games and hasn’t failed to hit the bull’s eye in his last seven matches. He is really enjoying rich vein of form but some watchers still believe the Portuguese hasn’t even reached his 100 percent fitness level and the icon will look to continue his incredible scoring streak at the Stadio San Paolo on Sunday. It is a tall order for any player to tame a fit Ronaldo but Koulibaly will attempt to do that.
The Senegalese has practically three missions in the tie: one to stop Ronaldo from scoring; second, to redeem his own image after scoring an own goal that condemned his side to a 4-3 defeat the last time the two teams clashed in Turin and lastly to ultimately help his side to victory on their home soil.
Napoli are a side in turmoil as they are yet to win their last four home matches in the league but a 1-0 win over Lazio in the Italian Cup on Wednesday has lifted their mood and they will look to consolidate on that with the team hoping to draw strength from their impressive defender. Koulibaly uses his incredible physical power to dominate opponents in the air and on the ground.
The 6-foot-2 defender isn’t all about strength though and his passing has improved in recent years to become confident on the ball, while he’s also quick on his feet and it will be interesting to see how he uses all these to tame Ronaldo.