Cristiano Ronaldo will be left on the bench for Juventus’ Serie A meeting with Udinese on Friday ahead of next week’s crunch Champions League visit of Atletico Madrid, Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed.
Atletico travel to Turin on Tuesday having claimed an impressive 2-0 win over the Bianconeri in Madrid last month, as late goals from Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin sealed victory.
The odds are stacked firmly against Juve for the return leg as a result, and elimination will come as a major shock given many people considered them to be favourites for the competition.
Juve are 16 points clear in Serie A, meaning they can afford to make the Champions League a priority and rest key players.
While Ronaldo, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci are unlikely to feature on Friday, Andrea Barzagli, Moise Kean and Wojciech Szczesny can expect to play.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Allegri said: “[Paulo] Dybala is much better after the match in Madrid, in which he took a blow.
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) March 6, 2019
“[Mario] Mandzukic is much better, Ronaldo is fine, but he does not play, he will be on the bench.
“Bonucci and Chiellini are doing well but will not play. Douglas Costa is improving – [but] they [Bonucci, Costa and Chiellini] are ruled out.
“Mandzukic trained separately, as did Dybala. We’ll see [on Friday] after training [if they can play]. Kean has a great chance to play, say 99 per cent.
“There is a possibility Barzagli plays, as he is as fresh as a rose. When the old horses return, they run and they run well.”
During the 2-1 win at Napoli on Sunday, Ronaldo cut a frustrated figure, appearing to urge his team-mates to move further up the pitch and attack.
Allegri does not think he was angry, however, while he pointed out they were putting more focus into their defending for a reason.
“But it is not that he was angry in Naples,” Allegri insisted. “We did not have a good second half, the team understood the difficulty and defended.
“Without the misunderstanding between Szczesny and Chiellini, we would not have conceded that goal either.
“Juventus did what they had to do, winning the games they need to get to the end. Then it can happen, we create less.”
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