Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance will be decisive when Juventus meet Milan in a huge Serie A clash on Wednesday, says Andrea Pirlo.
The Juve forward has racked up 14 goals in 11 Serie A games this season, netting a double and adding an assist in Sunday’s 4-1 thumping of Udinese.
Pirlo will take charge of a match against Milan, with whom he spent a decade as a player and won the Champions League twice, for the first time.
Despite Ronaldo’s form, Juve sit 10 points adrift of impressive leaders Milan, albeit the Bianconeri have a game in hand.
“From the beginning we have tried to exploit Cristiano for his characteristics, clarity and incisiveness in the final third,” said Juve boss Pirlo ahead of the San Siro battle.
“Is he decisive? Of course, as he was everywhere.
“But it is normal to depend on him when you have such a champion in your team.”
With the pressure on for a crucial clash, Pirlo feels it is Milan and not defending champions Juve who are currently the team to beat.
“Milan have not lost in a long time, they are first in the standings and they are the team to beat,” he said.
“I see a great spirit in Milan, which leads them to win games. They come into the game off the back of excellent results, they fight and run together and they don’t want to lose.
“The table always reflects the values of the championship. We play game after game to move up the standings, looking only at ourselves. We will see in April where we will be.
“We will try to impose our game at San Siro, without fear: these are the good matches to be involved in.”
Coach @Pirlo_official ‘s virtual press conference has begun!
“After #AlexSandro tested positive, we will have the results of the team’s tests in the afternoon. We started with a win and a positive attitude. We improve match after match, then we’ll see.” #MilanJuve pic.twitter.com/A65Y77b9uD
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 5, 2021
He added: “It will be a special evening for me, having experienced many memories with Milan. It was wonderful as a player, I think it will be the same as a coach.
“We know the importance of the match. We will play our game and do our best. It will be very important, but not decisive.
“We will need to be good at making few mistakes and to play well, technically, in order to not give space to Milan’s breakaways, which is one of their strengths.
“In the Italian league you can’t give up, not even for a second – every match must be faced with the same concentration. I want to see a Juve convinced of their strength, who play the game we have in mind.”
Pirlo was asked for an update on available players after Alex Sandro tested positive for coronavirus.
“After Alex Sandro tested positive, we will have the results of the team’s tests in the afternoon – until then we wait,” he said.
“[Paulo] Dybala is doing pretty well, he is better after his fever so should be available for the game.
“[Alvaro] Morata is recovering and doing physiotherapy, [Giorgio] Chiellini and [Merih] Demiral are doing quite well, while Arthur and [Adrien] Rabiot have both recovered.
“On Wednesday, we will evaluate who we will have available to bring to Milan. There will be no excuse for the game – the squad is competitive in all sectors. Other teams have had the same problems.”
Milan won 4-2 against Juve in July, so they are looking for back-to-back wins against Juventus in Serie A for the first time since 2010, when Pirlo was playing at San Siro under Leonardo.
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