Juventus face a tough battle this weekend as they travel to Bergamo to face Atalanta, who sit just a point behind Juve in the standings.
That task got a bit more difficult from an attacking standpoint for Andrea Pirlo with the news that Cristiano Ronaldo would not be playing.
“We have an important absentee. Cristiano will not be taking part in the game due to a problem with his flexor. It would be too risky for us to bring him to Bergamo.
“We hope he can recover for Wednesday [against Parma].”
“Cristiano’s issue arose after the last game. He wasn’t able to ‘push’ the way he wanted to in training this week and we prefer not to risk it. The internationals didn’t help, he’s been playing a lot lately.
“[Paulo] Dybala will start tomorrow.”
Atalanta are a difficult proposition to take on in the best of times, and Pirlo knows his side will have their hands full on Sunday.
“We worked hard during the week, knowing Atalanta have some very particular characteristics.
“They play a different style of football to other teams and we have prepared some countermeasures. I am feeling confident.
“There are so many talents I admire in the Atalanta squad, from the physicality of Duvan Zapata to the creativity of Josip Ilicic on to Matteo Pessina tying things together. There’s no point talking about individuals, tough.
“We had a good game against Atalanta last time, the attitude was good and we put pressure on them. Atalanta force you to play with intensity and I hope to see that again.”
The battle for Champions League qualification remains wide open with nine points separating six clubs from second to seventh, and eight games to play.
“We have a single objective in our minds and that is to finish as high up the table as possible. We have refocused onto this new target, which isn’t the one suited to Juventus, but unfortunately the gap has become a bit too big. Our aim now is to end the season on a high.”
Tomorrow’s game will be an early preview of their upcoming Coppa Italia Final, and fans could be allowed in for the game at the Mapei with arenas opening up on May 1st.
“This is great news, but not just for football, as it means everything is starting to get back to normal. If the stadiums are full, it means people are feeling better.”