The prolific Portuguese has become the first man since Omar Sívori in 1960-61 to hit 25 goals for the Bianconeri in the Italian top-flight

Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first man in 60 years to hit 25 goals for Juventus in a single Serie A season, bringing up the milestone with his first-ever free-kick goal for the Italian giants.

The prolific Portuguese reached that mark by finding the target in Saturday’s derby against Torino, which ended in a convincing victory for the league leaders.

His remarkable standards have been maintained throughout the current campaign, with the target found on 25 occasions through just 26 appearances in the Italian top-flight.

Ronaldo is still looking to chase down the Capocannoniere crown in 2020, but remains four efforts short of Lazio frontman Ciro Immobile.

Time is still on the 35-year-old’s side, though, and he remains a model of consistency.

He has helped Juve back to the top of the table this season, as they chase down a ninth successive Serie A crown.

Title glory was enjoyed during his debut campaign in Italy, but only 21 league goals were recorded by a five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

That haul has been raised this term, allowing him to match the efforts of club legend Omar Sivori from 1960-61.

The Argentine-born Italy star scored exactly 25 to help Juve win the Scudetto that season, although he was pipped to the top scorer title by Sampdoria’s Sergio Brighenti.

Nobody has managed 25 league goals since then, with legendary figures such as Alessandro Del Piero, Roberto Baggio and Michel Platini all falling short.

Ronaldo’s exploits in front of goal are now expected and no longer come as any surprise.

Over the course of a record-setting career, he has raised the bar of individual excellence to never before seen heights.

He is the complete package when it comes to a modern-day footballer, with there seemingly nothing that he cannot do.

Questions have, however, been asked of his free-kick record at times.

For someone who stands over so many set-pieces, Ronaldo’s strike rate is not the best.

That has remained the case during his time in Turin, although a dead ball situation was the source of his most recent strike.

Ronaldo’s effort against local rivals was his first from a direct free-kick for the Bianconeri, with 42 previous attempts having failed to find the back of the net.


Real Madrid‘s defensive fortress has become the key in their push towards the title in LaLiga Santander.

“I like attacking football, but we know our defenders and their commitment. Defending is something that belongs to the whole team,” Zinedine Zidane said.

It is true that Real Madrid were good defensively before the break, but since June 11, they have been almost impenetrable, especially at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

Before the break, Real Madrid had played 19 matches at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in all competitions.

In those, they conceded 18 goals – one every 95 minutes – and kept eight clean sheets.

Since June 11, that confidence has skyrocketed: one goal conceded in four matches at Di Stefano – one every 360 minutes, three matches out of four without conceding and a 300-minute home run without the opposition scoring since Eibar‘s goal in the first match after the coronavirus-enforced stoppage of football.

Real Madrid‘s defensive work has gone to another level.

Last season they finished the campaign with 46 goals conceded in LaLiga Santander, a record that today looks ridiculous compared to the 21 they have allowed with five games left in the current season.

That figure means that Real Madrid are on the path to improving their best record since LaLiga Santander has been a 20-team league, when they conceded just 26 goals in the 1987/88 campaign.

The club’s record in a single season is a far cry from the 1931/32 season, when they conceded 15 goals in 18 games – an average of 0.83 per game.

The best average in the history of LaLiga Santander is for Deportivo La Coruna and Atletico Madrid (1994 and 2016 respectively): 0.47.

For as good as they’ve been, even if Real Madrid do not concede any more goals, they will not be able to reach this figure.


The Algeria international has returned from the break in rude form, and must now show Guardiola he can lead next season’s title challenge

Even in the knowledge that title celebrations were likely to dull Liverpool’s instincts, there was something surreal about the manner in which Manchester City went about dismantling the Reds on Thursday night.

For Jurgen Klopp and his men, all that is left to play for is the points’ record. The defeat of the Premier League champions at the Etihad may have been brutal, but at least Liverpool still have 18 points to play for. It is not often that such a comprehensive rout in a meeting between first and second in the league feels so hollow.

Doubly disappointing is the fact that we were deprived of the opportunity to observe Riyad Mahrez’s growing influence at Manchester City.

The Algeria international had featured in all four matches for the club since the return of football to English shores, but started on the bench here, only coming on for the final half hour. he generally put himself about, showcasing some neat touches and finishing smartly in stoppage time to momentarily make it 5-0 before the intervention of VAR.

While his extensive involvement since the restart is a nod to his physical conditioning and professionalism, it is also indicative of the fact that, for the first time since joining in 2018, he looks like more just than an interesting option for Guardiola.

Riyad Mahrez Pep Guardiola Manchester City 2019

There were always concerns over his fit for the highly mechanized, structured style of football which the Catalan espouses. His best football had come as the sole creative outlet for a functional Leicester City side far removed from Brendan Rodgers’ current iteration, and so his improvisation was not only required, but encouraged.

That free-spirited style was, of course, inherently inefficient, but that was a necessary trade-off.

In Manchester, within an orchestra already in tune, Mahrez’s extempore strummings seemed to jar, and so he spent much of his first season lashed to the bench, behind Raheem Sterling (and even Bernardo Silva) in the pecking order.

Having started in 12 of City’s first 24 matches, he only got two more 90s in as the club put together a 14-game winning run to clinch the title in 2019. The implication was clear: he had not yet earned the manager’s trust.

Things have begun to look up, however. Already this season, he has started three more games than he managed in the entirety of last term. Aside Guardiola’s rather droll assessment that the 29-year-old has “no muscles” in his legs (and so is less injury-prone), there are some important factors that have contributed to his establishment within the side.

Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Man City

The first is perhaps the more underrated one. In the summer of 2019, Mahrez captained his country to victory at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt for the first time in 29 years. This historic achievement saw him nominated for the Fifa Ballon D’Or, and in Guardiola’s eyes seemed to take his level up a notch. “He started incredibly well after the African Cup of Nations,” the City boss noted in December.

Just as crucial (for Mahrez, but not so much for the Citizens) was Leroy Sane damaging his knee ligaments against Liverpool in the Community Shield at the start of the season. It was a piece of misfortune that effectively forced Guardiola’s hand; shorn of perhaps his most direct, dynamic wide forward, it became necessary to trust his Algerian maestro a little more. For all his guile, Bernardo Silva, who had often deputized on the right, lacks the same explosive quality.

“[Mahrez] has played more minutes than last year and understands much better,” Guardiola noted.

“I’m satisfied with his performance and with the absence of Leroy there is more space to use the wingers and upfront.”

With Sane agreeing a move to Bayern Munich this summer, Mahrez’s influence can only increase.

Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Man City vs Man Utd at Old Trafford 2019-20 Carabao Cup

He will no doubt be keen to prove himself worthy of the opportunity. His brace against Burnley was a start, but he is only too aware that Manchester City have the resources (and also the will, thanks to Liverpool beating them to the post so comprehensively) to go into the market and replace Sane directly. In order to stave off that possibility, he will need to have a properly transformative impact.

On that front, he could do worse than mirroring Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, both of whom have effectively come to define and embody Liverpool’s attacking play. They were far from their rapier-sharp best on Thursday night, but already their tapestry for the season is woven.

When the Reds sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January 2018 without signing a direct replacement, it seemed misguided and hubristic to the utmost. However, Klopp’s side came out of it even stronger by leveraging what was already there and leaning even more strongly into their superstar forwards.

There is a lesson there for Guardiola, but perhaps even more so for Mahrez himself. With Sergio Aguero continuing to creak physically, and Gabriel Jesus again failing to convince when handed a start against the league champions, there is yet another window of opportunity, but the Algerian will have to give Pep something to think about first.

Seizing his chances for the rest of the season would be the strongest audition yet for the chance to lead the City attack as they seek to wrest back supremacy in the league next season.


Achraf Hakimi is the latest academy graduate to fly the nest at Real Madrid.

The now Inter full-back is one of several high profile youngsters to earn Los Blancos a healthy profit after coming through La Fabrica.

We’ve put together an XI of La Fabrica graduates who have gone on to have successful careers away from the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Santiago Canizares: The goalkeeper spent four seasons at Real Madrid after spells away at Elche, Merida and Celta Vigo. After Los Blancos’ Champions League win in 1998, he left for Valencia.

Juanfran: The right-back left Real Madrid for Osasuna after a loan at Espanyol and was a big hit at El Sadar. From there, he moved on to play for Atletico Madrid, where he became a club legend under Diego Simeone.

Jose Garcia Calvo: Having had a lack of game time at the Bernabeu, the centre-back left for Real Valladolid in 1997 and would go on to sign for Atletico Madrid in 2001.

Diego Llorente: He came right up through the ranks at La Fabrica before leaving the club in 2015 after making his first team debut. After spells at Rayo Vallecano and Malaga, he’s now at Real Sociedad.

Julio Llorente: Marcos Llorente’s uncle left Real Madrid after two years of limited opportunities in the first team. He went on to have a successful career at Tenerife.

Marcos Llorente: Atletico paid 40 million euros to bring the midfielder to the Wanda Metropolitano last summer. He’s relished a new attacking role in the team under Simeone.

Dani Parejo: The current Valencia captain arrived at Mestalla in 2011 via QPR and Getafe after leaving Real Madrid.

Jose Luis Caminero: A very versatile player in his time, Caminero enjoyed success first at Valladolid and then Atletico during their double-wining campaign under Radomir Antic.

Juan Mata: The former Real Oviedo youngster was one of the most promising talents in the Real Madrid academy during his time there. However, in 2007, he left for Valencia and hasn’t looked back since, thriving at Mestalla and in the Premier League with Chelsea and Manchester United.

Miguel Pardeza: A member of the Quinta del Buitre alongside Manolo Sanchis, Martin Vazquez, Michel and Emilio Butragueno while at Real Madrid, Pardeza left on loan for Real Zaragoza in 1985 before signing permanently in 1987.

Alvaro Morata: After a youth career that was shared between Real Madrid, Getafe and Atletico, the forward broke into the first team under Jose Mourinho. In 2014, he left for Juventus but returned to Madrid in 2016. After just one season back in LaLiga Santander, Morata was on the move again, this time to Chelsea, before ending up back at Atletico in January 2019.

This XI doesn’t even include the likes of Santiago Aragon, Jose Manuel Jurado, Alfonso Perez, Juanmi, Victor Sanchez del Amo, Borja Valero, Alvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado or Pablo Sarabia.

Jese Rodriguez was a strange case as he was such a revered talent during his time at Real Madrid.

The forward broke into the first team under Carlo Ancelotti, despite the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, but never really flourished.

He ended up leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2016, where he’s been loaned out to Las Palmas, Stoke, Real Betis and Sporting CP.

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