Ronaldo doubtful to face Messi as Juventus tackle Barca

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Covid-19 -stricken Cristiano Ronaldo.

Milan, Tuesday 

Andrea Pirlo sees positives despite preparing for his biggest match since taking over as Juventus coach with Covid-19 -stricken Cristiano Ronaldo in doubt against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Ronaldo was expected to find out later last night whether he could face rival Messi today.

He has been self-isolating at home since he tested positive for coronavirus while away on international duty with Portugal on October 13.

The 35-year-old recorded another positive result last Thursday, throwing into doubt his participation in Juventus’ Champions League clash with Barcelona this week.

Pirlo took over after Maurizio Sarri was sacked immediately after Juventus’ last 16 exit to Lyon in August, the veteran coach lamenting another failure in a “competition cursed for Juve”.

The Turin side have won the tournament twice, but not since 1996. They have been runners-up seven times, including twice in the last five years.

In fact, 41-year-old Pirlo’s last Juventus game as a player came in the 3-1 loss to Barcelona in the 2015 Champions League final.

Juventus signed Portuguese star Ronaldo in 2018 with the aim of lifting the coveted European trophy, and his absence against Messi’s Barcelona could weigh heavy.

The 35-year-old will need to test negative 24 hours before being allowed to feature in Turin. The return at the Camp Nou is on December 8.

“We miss him right now, of course,” said Colombian teammate Juan Cuadrado. “He’s a champion. In these very difficult matches, his strength, his mentality and his desire shine through.”

Ronaldo scored three goals for Juventus in their first two league games, before contracting the virus while on international duty.

Even if Pirlo has yet to record a loss this season, Juventus are fifth in Serie A, with three draws in five games.“Barcelona?

It doesn’t worry me, they are two different matches,” said Pirlo after Sunday’s 1-1 stalemate against Hellas Verona.

“Verona play differently than Barcelona, against teams that play like this you have to prepare a certain type of match.

“We’re in the construction phase,” continued the novice coach.

“We’re sorry to leave points on the road, but we are on the right path. We are building a long-term project. I only see positive things.”

Pirlo’s main weapons in Ronaldo’s absence have been Spanish forward Alvaro Morata, who scored both goals against Dynamo Kiev, and Swedish striker Dejan Kulusevski, who rescued the point against Verona.

Former Chelsea and Real Madrid player Morata returned to Juventus this season with Kulusevski signed from Atalanta in January before being loaned back immediately to Parma.

The 20-year-old Swede was up and running immediately, scoring on his club debut in September and came off the bench to give Juventus the edge against Verona.

Pirlo has also been impressed with how Paulo Dybala performed “well above expectations,” in his seasonal debut against Verona after over three months out.

Captain Giorgio Chiellini’s presence is in doubt, with fellow defender Leonardo Bonucci’s thigh strain being monitored.           -Dailymail

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