Ronaldo left to ‘cool off’ as injury-hit Juve take on Atalanta - GulfToday

Ronaldo left to ‘cool off’ as injury-hit Juve take on Atalanta

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Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri speaks during a press conference on Friday.

Cristiano Ronaldo is ‘99 percent’ certain to miss this weekend’s Serie A trip to Atalanta after his four-goal spree for Portugal in Euro 2020 qualifying, coach Maurizio Sarri confirmed on Friday.

Juventus visit fifth-placed Atalanta on Saturday looking to retain top spot in Serie A ahead of Inter Milan before hosting Atletico Madrid in the Champions League next week.

“The problem is on Tuesday Cristiano returned and said that it was good for the first game with Portugal but less in the second,” said Sarri.

“We have developed a programme for him and now, the goal is the match of Tuesday against Atletico Madrid,” said Sarri adding: “for Atalanta, 99 percent he will not be available.”

Ronaldo had been substituted in Juventus’s last two games with Sarri saying that the 34-year-old had a “little knee problem”.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was furious after being hauled off before the hour in their last game against AC Milan.

“We talked on Tuesday, and at certain times you have to left players cool down,” said Sarri.

“There is no need for explanations. I’ve coached since the 90s and reactions to substitutions were the same even in amateurs and sometimes much worse.”

Sarri’s side are just one point ahead of Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan after 12 matches, with Lazio and Cagliari eight points adrift of the leaders in joint third.

Atalanta have gone three league games without a win, and are two points off the final Champions League berths, before next week’s trip to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Sarri said Atalanta were a tricky team to face.

“Annoying is an understatement. They play with intensity and aggressiveness but also have great technical quality,” said the former Chelsea and Napoli boss.

“The best definition was given by (Manchester City coach Pep) Guardiola -- facing Atalanta is like going to the dentist, you can get out well but also with pain.”

Atalanta’s fortunes have slipped following the thigh injury to Colombian star Duvan Zapata, who scored six goals in six Serie A matches before being sidelined for their last five league games.

As Atalanta sweat on Zapata’s return, Juventus will be without full-back Alex Sandro, Adrien Rabiot, and Juan Cuadrado. There are also doubts of Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi.

“When after seven games in 20 days they go to the national team they all come back full of small problems and little ailments.”

Inter will be looking to make it a perfect seven league games on the road this season as they travel to Torino, before their European trip to Slavia Prague.

Conte’s side face a tough task against the Andrea Belotti-powered Torino, who ended their six-match winless run against Brescia last time out, and are in 11th position. Serie A runners-up Napoli are in crisis, having slipped to seventh, and desperately need a result at 14th-placed AC Milan, who are themselves floundering.

Cagliari and Lazio will look to continue their strong form at lowly Lecce and Sassuolo respectively.

Agence France-Presse


Italian League fixtures  (all times GMT)

On Saturday: Atalanta vs Juventus (1400GMT), AC Milan vs Napoli (1700), Torino vs Inter Milan (1945)

On Sunday:  Bologna vs Parma (1130GMT), Verona vs Fioretina, AS Roma vs Brescia, Sassuolo vs Lazio (1400), Sampdoria vs Udinese (1700), Lecce vs Cagliari (1945)