Leonardo Bonucci’s Heavenly Assist Shows Exactly Why Juventus Brought Him Back

In all the noise surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer to Juventus, much was lost regarding the return of prodigal son Leonardo Bonucci. For many, AC Milan had gotten the better of a transfer that saw promising 24-year-old defender Mattia Caldara and Gonzalo Higuain land at the San Siro while the 31-year-old Bonucci — hot off his worst season as a professional — performed a sort of walk of shame back to Allianz Stadium.

But Juve have got that look about them both domestically and in the Champions League, and — at least when it comes to the continental competition — much of that is down to Bonucci’s reintroduction to the side.

The veteran has saved his best for Juve’s big matches this season, a title which was supposedly reserved for Ronaldo this year. But the Azzurri defender was massive in Juve’s 2-0 win over Lazio back in August and followed that up with an even better performance against Valencia back on Sept. 19.

Down to 10-men at the Mestalla for 60 minutes following Ronaldo’s red card, Juve’s rearguard held firm. Valencia attempted 26 shots but put only six on target (the same as Juve), while the Bianconeri defenders blocked 10 shots and made 29 clearances.   

Bonucci followed that up with another strong performance at the heart of a back three against Bologna (another 2-0 clean sheet victory), and then he scored on Saturday in Juve’s 3-1 victory over title rival Napoli. 

On Tuesday, with Ronaldo watching on from the stands while serving his one-match red card suspension, Bonucci made his mark almost immediately. 

In the fifth minute, Bonucci spotted Paulo Dybala’s run and picked him out with an inch-perfect pass, allowing the Argentine to first-time a side-footed effort on goal. 

With Juve up 2-0 and firmly in control at halftime, the Bonucci’s numbers made his impact evident (again he was at the heart of a back three alongside Mehdi Benatia and Andrea Barzagli): 

He completed the most touches on the pitch. He connected on 94 percent of passes (45/48 — both halftime highs), and he pitched in defensively to keep Young Boys without a shot on target.

And he ended the match with the most touches (97), passes (91) and accurate passes (85) to keep things humming for the home side. 

In this sort of form, he looks like the player that won the Serie A Footballer of the Year award back in 2015-16. He’s sophisticated, smart and completely able on the ball, but he’s also a monster in squeezing the life out of the opposition — you can’t carve out a decent chance against a Bonucci marshaled backline. 

Young Boys was never going to be a problem for Juventus at home, with our without Ronaldo, but a fully focused Bonucci could do just as much for the club’s UCL aspirations. 

Videos you might like