Andrea Pirlo’s pre-game press conferences aren’t necessarily meant to be news dumps. He rarely reveals much of his starting lineup for the next day, and most of the time the squad updates that he does give sometimes don’t give you a definitive answer as to what things will look like.
This one was different, though.
Pirlo announced at his pre-match press conference that Serie A’s leading goal scorer and Juventus’ biggest star Cristiano Ronaldo will not make the trip to Bergamo this weekend when the Italian champions face Gian Piero Gasperini and Atalanta due to a flexor injury he originally picked up last week against Genoa. According to Pirlo, Ronaldo’s absence will clear the way for Paulo Dybala — who himself is recently back from injury — to make his first start in three months when Juve face Atalanta on Sunday afternoon.
Here is what Pirlo had to say about Ronaldo’s injury during said pre-match press conference:
@Pirlo_official: "@Cristiano's flexor problem happened after the last game and he wasn't able to push himself this week as he saw fit. We prefer not to take risks, so tomorrow @PauDybala_JR will start."#AtalantaJuve #ForzaJuve— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) April 17, 2021
Ronaldo, who has 25 goals in Serie A this season, will miss his first game due to something other than planned rest since he was diagnosed with COVID-19 during the October international break. This will be his first injury absence since he was dealing with a knee issue back in November 2019.
Basically, this is something that Pirlo and Juve hope is just one game, but we don’t know for sure just how long Ronaldo will be out for with this flexor issue.
As mentioned, Ronaldo’s absence means Dybala will make his first start since January when he sustained the knee injury that kept him out nearly three months. Dybala will get the start alongside Alvaro Morata, who had one of his better games in weeks last weekend against Genoa. (You know, the kind of game some confidence can be built back up and hopefully taken with him into the stretch drive of the season.)