Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out of Sunday’s Serie A game against Champions League rivals Atalanta with a flexor muscle issue.
Coach Andrea Pirlo said the 36-year-old Portuguese striker, the top scorer in Serie A this season with 25 goals, would rest to avoid risking a more serious injury.
“We have an important absentee. Unfortunately Cristiano will not be taking part in the match due to a problem with his flexor,” Pirlo told a pre-match press conference.
“Over these past few days he has not been able to recover from the problem sustained after last Sunday’s match against Genoa.
“He hasn’t been able to push himself this week. It would be too risky for us to bring him to Bergamo tomorrow.
“We have decided to leave him in Turin to rest and we will try to have him back for Wednesday’s match against Parma.”
Champions Juventus are third, 12 points off leaders Inter Milan, with their nine-year reign looking set to end.
They play fourth-placed Atalanta who are just a point behind, with next week’s game at relegation-threatened Parma.
Pirlo blamed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s problem on fatigue.
“Cristiano has always been in excellent condition,” said the Juventus coach.
“Unfortunately, the three matches in the national team have led to an accumulation of fatigue which is a problem for everyone.
“Cristiano also told me that in the national team he should only have played two games, but then that goal not given against Serbia led him to play the third as well, otherwise he would have been back at Juve’s disposal before the third game.
“An accumulation of everything, travel and games, can lead to fatigue. (Manchester City manager Pep) Guardiola also said it, there have been too many matches and the squads are too tight and these are the consequences.
“We also saw it in the Champions League, with (Bayern Munich’s Robert) Lewandowski who was unable to play the Champions League quarter-finals League due to an injury picked up in the national team.”
Juventus can however count on Argentina striker Paulo Dybala who will start for the first time in over three months, after a long knee injury layoff, partnering Alvaro Morata up front. (AFP)