Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Cristiano Ronaldo set for recall after missing disappointing Juventus draw at Lecce

Portuguese attacker back from rest to take on Genoa, as high-flying Atalanta play down Serie A title talk

Cristiano Ronaldo was rested for Juventus' 1-1 draw with Lecce in Serie A on Saturday. AFP 
Cristiano Ronaldo was rested for Juventus' 1-1 draw with Lecce in Serie A on Saturday. AFP 

Cristiano Ronaldo is in line to return from a brief rest on Wednesday as Serie A leaders Juventus host a Genoa side reinvigorated by the appointment as manager of former Italy midfielder Thiago Motta.

Ronaldo forward sat out Saturday's 1-1 draw at promoted Lecce with fatigue, although manager Maurizio Sarri refused to blame Ronaldo's absence for the dropped points.

Juve will face city rivals Torino this weekend before a trip to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on November 6, and defender Leonardo Bonucci urged his team-mates to swiftly move on from the Lecce disappointment.

"We have to roll up our sleeves and be even more determined – and learn quickly too, otherwise we can end up dropping important points," said Bonucci. "That's what happened [Saturday]. Luckily we have a chance to get straight back to winning ways on Wednesday."

Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon insists it might take another two months before Sarri’s attacking masterplan for Juventus is fully up and running.

“You are starting to see something different; a constant pursuit of attacking football that we did not have in the last few years,” the 41-year-old told TV show Tiki Taka.

“We will see his full system in two months because we could not rely on some important players in the initial part of the season.”

Motta's debut as Genoa manager ended in a 3-1 win over Brescia – a match where all three of his team's substitutes scored, a first in Serie A.

"The lads were extraordinary from the first to the last minute," said Motta, who spent the 2008-09 season at Genoa before winning the treble under Jose Mourinho with Inter Milan the following campaign.

Inter remained a point behind Juve following a 2-2 home draw against Parma. Antonio Conte's side could replace the defending champions at the top after Tuesday's visit to lowly Brescia.

While Atalanta's maiden Champions League voyage has run aground, Gian Piero Gasperini's free-scoring team is muscling its way into contention at the top.

Last year's third-place finish represented the highest in the club's 112-year history, and their 28 goals through the first nine games is the best return since AC Milan in 1992-93.

A 7-1 demolition of Udinese pushed Atalanta to within three points of Juve, and Wednesday's trip to fourth-place Napoli offers another chance to prove their mettle.

"The Scudetto is Juventus's to lose, then there are Inter and Napoli as well as other teams that have significant possibilities," said Gasperini. "We're not deluding ourselves. It is very early days, only nine rounds."

Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti saw his side draw 1-1 at lowly SPAL, missing the chance to make up ground on the top three. Arkadiusz Milik had put Napoli ahead after nine minutes only for Jasmin Kurtic to level seven minutes later.

"We couldn't have done more today," said Ancelotti after the match. "I’m disappointed with the outcome of the game but I can’t criticise the team for the performance.

The players showed that they’re in good form and that they weren’t tired from playing lots of games, because we kept pushing until the end.

"The team is in good shape and needs to keep going. We have a big game against Atalanta and we need to look forward, work hard and show belief.”

AC Milan, who are struggling in 12th and desperate for a first win under new manager Stefano Pioli, visit second-bottom SPAL on Thursday.

Updated: October 28, 2019 07:32 PM

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