Juventus prepare to take on Barcelona tomorrow in the second matchday of Champions League action, with the biggest question on all football fans’ minds still unanswered - will Cristiano Ronaldo be able play against Lionel Messi?
Speaking to the media, coach Andrea Pirlo seemed to indicate that Juve would make the decision after receiving the results from the COVID swab test.
“We must wait for the outcome [from Ronaldo’s test], I think the result will come tonight,” Pirlo said at a press conference.
“First we wait for the outcome and then we’ll see. For now, everything is still on the high seas and then we’ll see.
“We hope to evaluate it, even if it’s hard after 15 days out.”
[UPDATE: Ronaldo has failed to test negative, according to reports, and will not be in the squad tomorrow.]
His side are going to be weak in defence with captain Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt both missing out and Leonardo Bonucci still iffy.
“Chiellini will not be there, Bonucci will try to recover and we haven’t received the go ahead from the doctor for De Ligt.
“We will count on the players we have available. Barcelona are strong and have great champions, we must play a great game.
“The players will certainly have to sacrifice themselves and play a great match. I’ll go ahead with the back four because I only have four defenders. So, we’ll go on like this.”
He was encouraged by the performances of Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata against Hellas Verona, and answered the question if American midfielder Weston McKennie could be used as cover in the backline.
“They played well, it’s a pity they didn’t score. McKennie is training but I don’t believe he can play in defence tomorrow.”
While Juventus remain unbeaten this season, they’ve also limped to three draws in Serie A action with Pirlo saying he needs more time with this squad.
“I don’t know how much time, I hope to have the players available. We are under construction, but we can’t lose points everywhere.”
Despite Barca’s woes over the summer and their loss in the Clasico over the weekend, Pirlo insists they still need to be respected.
“We are fortunate enough to compete with great clubs and great players. It’s not a decisive match but we are looking forward to being able to prove our worth.
“Lionel Messi is still at the top, I have faced him many times as a player and tomorrow for the first time as a coach.
“These players must be treated differently, hoping they are not at their best on the day.”
Two youngsters with star potential in Ansu Fati and Dejan Kulusevski will also go head-to-head.
“They are two players with great prospects, but they’re different. They play with the two greatest players of the time and therefore have the opportunity to learn from them every day.”