MILAN (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo is in line to return from a brief rest tonight as Serie A leaders Juventus host a Genoa side reinvigorated by the appointment as coach of former Italy midfielder Thiago Motta.
Ronaldo sat out last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at promoted Lecce with fatigue, although coach Maurizio Sarri refused to blame Ronaldo’s absence for the dropped points.
Juve will face city rivals Torino this weekend before a trip to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on November 6, and defender Leonardo Bonucci urged his teammates to swiftly move on from the Lecce disappointment.
“We have to roll up our sleeves and be even more determined – and learn quickly too, otherwise we can end up dropping important points,” said Bonucci.
“That’s what happened (Saturday). Luckily we have a chance to get straight back to winning ways on Wednesday.”
Motta’s debut as Genoa coach ended in a 3-1 win over Brescia – a match where all three of his team’s substitutes scored, a first in Serie A history.
“The lads were extraordinary from the first to the last minute,” said Motta, who spent the 2008-09 season at Genoa before winning the treble under Jose Mourinho with Inter Milan the following campaign.
Inter remained a point behind Juve following a 2-2 home draw against Parma. Antonio Conte’s side could replace the defending champions at the top after their visit to lowly Brescia.
While Atalanta’s maiden Champions League voyage has run aground, Gian Piero Gasperini’s free-scoring team is muscling its way into contention at the top.
Last year’s third-place finish represented the highest in the club’s 112-year history, and their 28 goals through the first nine games is the best return since AC Milan in 1992-93.
A 7-1 demolition of Udinese pushed Atalanta to within three points of Juve, and tonight’s trip to fourth-place Napoli offers another chance to prove their mettle.
“The Scudetto is Juventus’ to lose, then there are Inter and Napoli as well as other teams that have significant possibilities,” said Gasperini.
“We’re not deluding ourselves. It is very early days, only nine rounds.”