Cristiano Ronaldo RULED OUT of Juventus’ squad for crunch Serie A clash against Atalanta in race for Champions League qualification with a ‘flexor problem’
- Cristiano Ronaldo sustained the issue after last weekend’s 3-1 win over Genoa
- The 36-year-old is Serie A’s top scorer this season with an impressive 25 goals
- Andrea Pirlo has confirmed that Paulo Dybala will start in Ronaldo’s absence
- Juve’s goalscoring struggles have been well documented without their star man
- Sunday’s hosts Atalanta are just one place and point behind Juventus in fourth
- Six clubs are chasing Champions League spots, with leaders Inter Milan cruising
Andrea Pirlo has confirmed that Juventus talisman Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Sunday’s crunch Serie A trip to Atalanta due to injury.
The 36-year-old is nursing a flexor problem sustained after the Old Lady’s 3-1 win over Genoa last weekend that kept them third, one point ahead of their next opponents in the battle for a top-four finish and Champions League football next season.
However, if they are to defeat Gian Piero Gasperini’s men and take a significant stride towards European football’s elite club competition, they will have to do without their star man, who is the division’s leading scorer this season with 25 goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Sunday’s trip to Atalanta in the top-four race with a flexor problem
Andrea Pirlo said that Paulo Dybala will start the match in the Portuguese forward’s absence
‘We have an important absentee,’ said Pirlo during his pre-match conference.
‘Cristiano will not be taking part in the game due to a problem with his flexor. It would be too risky for us to bring him to Bergamo (where Atalanta are based). We hope he can recover for Wednesday (when Juve face Parma).
‘Cristiano’s issue arose after the last game. He wasn’t able to ”push” the way he wanted to in training this week and we prefer not to risk it. The internationals didn’t help, he’s been playing a lot lately.
‘(Paulo) Dybala will start tomorrow.’
Pirlo’s side are also missing winger Federico Bernardeschi after the Italian contracted Covid-19.
Juventus’ reliance on Ronaldo this season has been well documented, with the team set to miss out on the Scudetto for the first time since 2011 as they sit 12 points behind clear leaders Inter Milan.
The 36-year-old is Serie A’s top scorer this season and has carried Pirlo’s men for long spells
After Ronaldo, the next-highest goalscorer in the league among his team-mates this term is Alvaro Morata with just eight.
Ronaldo is reportedly a target for Paris Saint-Germain as the French giants brace themselves for the potential departure of superstar forward Kylian Mbappe.
The top-four race in Italy is shaping up to be absolutely fascinating. Inter can safely they have won the title, with AC Milan neck-and-neck with their city rivals for large swathes of the campaign before falling off the pace having suffered six defeats in 17 league games since the turn of the year, including home and away losses to Antonio Conte’s men.
Atalanta sit just a point behind Juventus and could sit third at the end of the weekend’s action
Stefano Pioli’s charges are now in danger of missing out on the top four as they sit on 63 points with 30 games played, with Juve and Atalanta on 62 and 61 points respectively.
Napoli will look to pounce from any slip-ups in the match between third and fourth… although they just so happen to be facing Inter.
Lazio are sixth, six points off Atalanta. However, Simone Inzaghi’s men have a game in hand on the rest.
Roma are still just about in the Champions League hunt and are Europa League semi-finalists
Finally, Lazio’s inter-city enemies and Europa League semi-finalists Roma are still just about in the hunt on 54 games, but can’t afford any more dropped points.
It is all shaping up to be a thrilling conclusion to a season with many thrills and spills.
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