After missing four games for Juventus including the midweek Champions League defeat against Barcelona, five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo is set to stage a return to the round leather game after testing negative for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The forward returned a second negative coronavirus test but will not start Sunday’s game against Spezia, Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said on the eve of the match.
“The negative result of the second swab has also arrived, so today Cristiano Ronaldo will be called up to the team,” said Pirlo.
“He is fine and has been training individually this morning. I don’t think he will start from the beginning, we will see how it goes tomorrow.”
But the 35-year-old will travel with the team to Cesena on the Adriatic coast, where Ligurian club Spezia are playing their home games as their Stadio Picco is modernised for their first season in the top flight.
Juventus are fifth in Serie A having drawn three games of five including 1-1 against promoted Crotone, and are four points behind leaders AC Milan.
“Tomorrow is a game we must win,” said Pirlo of 14th-placed Spezia, who have five points from as many games.
“It will be difficult, as it was in Crotone, Spezia are a newly promoted side who are doing well.
“I know their coach (Vincenzo Italiano) well, we were on the same coaching course together,” continued Pirlo who got his coaching diploma just before the start of the season.
“I’m not surprised about the pressure, I’ve always been in the spotlight and I’m used to having responsibilities.”
Ronaldo has been named alongside fellow strikers Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata.
Defender Leonardo Bonucci is expected to play after a slight thigh problem, but Giorgio Chiellini will not.
“He is better, but not yet available,” added Pirlo of the veteran captain.