'Even Cristiano struggled' - Former Portugal striker credits Ronaldo's improvement

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Cristiano Ronaldo has improved a lot at Juventus after initially struggling against Serie A defences, according to former Portugal striker Nuno Gomes.

Ronaldo has scored 21 goals in 22 league games this season, the same tally he reached in 31 appearances in 2018-19, his first term in Italy following his €112 million move from Real Madrid.

Although only Ciro Immobile can match Ronaldo on 42 goals in the past two Serie A seasons, it has been suggested the 35-year-old's spectacular scoring prowess is on the wane, as he never failed to score fewer than 26 league goals per season during his nine years with Real Madrid.

Gomes, though, believes Ronaldo is actually getting better as he has become more used to the strong defences in Italy's top flight.

The former Fiorentina striker, who spent two years in Italy after leaving Benfica, said: "For a while, Serie A has not been at its usual level.

"Before 2000 and until 2005, all the best players were in Italy. Italian clubs were so strong and, in the nineties, they almost won every year [in Europe], the managers were of the highest level.

"I experienced a lot of difficulties at the beginning because there was a lot less space to attack than in Portugal. Italian defenders were tactically so good and were able to do everything the manager requested.

"The defensive system is a united block, they all move together and even Cristiano struggled a bit when he arrived. He was used to drawing the ball to him, having space and time to think, while in Italy you have to be quicker in your mind, you have to think football.

"Cristiano understood that and adapted and in so doing he improved. He saw he had to change his ways with less space than in Spain. So, he got closer to the box to maybe think more about scoring. He improved a lot."

Juve's season is set to resume on Saturday (AEST) when they face Milan in the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final, with the aggregate score at 1-1.

The Serie A leaders will then face Bologna on June 22 in their first league game since the competition was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis in March.

Source Omnisport