Pirlo: ‘Ronaldo won’t start with Spezia’

Andrea Pirlo warns Cristiano Ronaldo ‘probably won’t’ start for Juventus against Spezia tomorrow after recovering from COVID-19, while ‘it’s just a physical issue’ for Paulo Dybala.

It kicks off on Sunday at 14.00 GMT, click here for a match preview.

The big news is that Cristiano Ronaldo tested negative for COVID-19 and is therefore available, but the coach warns he “probably won’t be in the starting XI. It’s important just to have him with us, he trained at home, but it’s not the same thing as doing it on the field.

“Unfortunately, Matthijs de Ligt needs to wait a few more weeks, as he had a visit with a specialist after shoulder surgery and asked to wait a while longer. It’s all going well, he is training with us, but needs some more time.

“Leonardo Bonucci will play, he worked separately in training yesterday, but is fine. Giorgio Chiellini is not yet available and will remain in Turin.”

The Bianconeri have been stuttering lately with two consecutive Serie A draws against Crotone and Verona, then a 2-0 home defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League.

“We need the right amalgamation between players who haven’t worked with each other for long. We are working on it, but we need to be more aggressive and realise the moment we lose the ball, we’ve got to get it back straight away.

“Since I started, we’ve hardly ever had the full squad at our disposal for training. We’re not happy with the results, but we are happy with the approach of the players and their work ethic,” continued Pirlo.

“I am not surprised by the pressure, because I’ve been under the spotlight for 20 years as a player. If anything, I am accustomed to it and am not interested in what people say.”

Can the same be said of Paulo Dybala, who is constantly in the headlines treated as either a saviour or a flop?

“It’s just a physical issue for him. I always said he wasn’t at 100 per cent, so he might play the first game well and then struggle after that. He just needs time to train and recover his full fitness. I can assure you that a player doesn’t think about a new contract when he’s on the pitch.

“Aaron Ramsey isn’t at his best yet after Dynamo Kiev either, so some need rest and we can’t afford it right now.”


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