Ronaldo left out of Juve squad for Coppa Italia tie

By Sports Desk January 27, 2021

Juventus will take on SPAL in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia on Wednesday without Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese forward came off the bench in the previous round, helping Juve edge past Genoa after extra time, but has not been included in a 23-man squad named by Andrea Pirlo. Paulo Dybala and Rodrigo Bentancur have also been left out.

Ronaldo, who has managed 20 goals in all competitions this season, has been given a break ahead of Saturday's Serie A trip to Sampdoria.

With their leading scorer absent, Alvaro Morata looks set to lead the line. Alex Sandro could also feature for the hosts, the Brazilian defender available again after recovering from coronavirus.

The Bianconeri host their second-tier opponents looking to extend their unbeaten streak at home in the cup competition; they have not lost in their 12 previous ties at their own ground.

A victory for the hosts in Turin will set up a semi-final clash with Inter, who knocked out rivals Milan in a feisty derby at San Siro on Tuesday thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Christian Eriksen.

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    Bruno Fernandes has defended Cristiano Ronaldo and believes there is "no need" for a "soap opera" around his Manchester United and Portugal team-mate following a 1-0 loss to Spain.

    After an impressive 4-0 win against the Czech Republic put Portugal in pole position in Nations League Group A2, they were beaten by La Roja and missed out on a place in the Finals.

    Ronaldo failed to score in a third consecutive game at international level, seeing two attempts saved by Unai Simon, and appeared extremely disappointed and frustrated at full-time.

    But Fernandes came to his colleague's defence, saying: "There is no need to make great stories. Cristiano is here, he is here to help, and he will continue to help.

    "Cristiano is a forward; he wants to score goals. Frustration is normal, but there was no one more frustrated than anyone else.

    "We were all very frustrated – there is no need to make a soap opera around Cristiano."

    Ronaldo has just one goal and one assist for club and country this season, but Fernandes added: "He has done what he has to do; the goals will appear.

    "This is a phase. When the goals start to appear, he will have more capacity and tranquillity to continue scoring many goals for our national team. We cannot forget that he is the best scorer ever."

    After two disappointing international tournaments, not progressing past the last 16 at either the 2018 World Cup or Euro 2020, Qatar provides an opportunity for Portugal to set things right. 

    "[The Nations League] doesn't get in the way," Fernandes said. "The World Cup is a completely different competition.

    "We knew what we had to do in this competition; unfortunately, we couldn't go all the way.

    "The World Cup will soon be seen, so we have to focus, be at the best level in the clubs to represent the national team."

  • ‘We lost focus’ – Reggae Boyz coach Hallgrimsson believes 3-0 win flattered Argentina ‘We lost focus’ – Reggae Boyz coach Hallgrimsson believes 3-0 win flattered Argentina

    Newly appointed Jamaica Reggae Boyz head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson believes a 3-0 scoreline might have flattered Argentina, insisting his team was made to pay for a loss in concentration in the defeat at the Red Bull stadium on Tuesday.

    Argentinean superstar Lionel Messi came off the bench to score twice as the Albiceleste, who, in truth, looked comfortable despite holding a slim 1-0 lead, blew the game wide open in the last 10 minutes.

    By the time the world-famous number 10 entered the fray, in the 56th minute, Argentina were already 1-0 up courtesy of Julian Alvarez’s tidy finish in the 13th minute. from there they had struggled to find real goalscoring momentum, that is until Messi entered the pitch.

    After stinging the palms of Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake with an early attempt, the forward made no mistake blasting his shot well to the left of the keeper, when he got another opportunity, to double the lead in the 86th minute.  However, sloppy play in midfield led to the dangerous player taking possession at the edge of the area.

    Three minutes later, there was real anxiety when the wily forward was brought down just at the top of the 18-yard box.  Those concerns were proven valid when Messi picked himself up and scored the resulting free-kick.  Again the Jamaicans might well feel dissatisfied with their defensive play, as Messi found space through a somewhat disheveled wall to beat Blake again.  The match was the first for Hallgrimsson and he believes despite the errors they were a few positives.

    “We lost 3-0 and you are never happy to lose.  Three, zero is a big number but I don’t think it reflects the game on a whole,” Hallgrimsson said.

    “It does not reflect the performance of our players, I think we showed an excellent team performance for 80 minutes and we lost a little focus in possession that led to the first and the second goal and then from that lost more focus for the third goal and that cannot happen,” he added.

    “Those were the negatives from the match.  We kept them from creating goal-scoring chances, more or less, until the 80th minute.  After 10 minutes we were finding our feet but after that, we were comfortable with how we played our defensive game.”

  • Rumour Has It: Newcastle United prepare a third bid for Leicester City's James Maddison Rumour Has It: Newcastle United prepare a third bid for Leicester City's James Maddison

    Newcastle United are reportedly prepared to launch a third bid for Leicester City midfielder James Maddison in the January window.

    Maddison, 24, has had a strong start to the season despite Leicester sitting bottom of the table through seven games, with the midfielder registering three goals and an assist.

    Newcastle reportedly placed bids of £40million and £45m in the last window – which prompted manager Brendan Rodgers to say "that might just cover three-quarters of his left leg" – but January will mark 18 months remaining on his contract, with a voluntary extension looking extremely unlikely.

     

    TOP STORY – MADDISON OPEN TO NEWCASTLE UNITED MOVE

    Maddison is said to be more open to the idea of leaving Leicester after failing to break back into the England setup for the World Cup, with his only international cap coming as a substitute during a win against Montenegro in 2020.

    With Newcastle players Nick Pope and Kieran Trippier both being involved with the Three Lions, it is viewed as a more favourable situation to capture the attention of Gareth Southgate.

    The report from The Times indicates Leicester do have the option to extend Maddison's contract by one extra season, which could give them the freedom to see out the remainder of the campaign.

    However, if Newcastle are willing to move into the £60m range, that kind of spending power could fund some significant moves to address the Foxes' problems, and there is no guarantee his value will remain this high if they delay.

     

    ROUND-UP

    – According to Spanish publication Beteve, Lionel Messi will refuse any contract extension and will leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of this season.

    – Kicker is reporting Tottenham's Harry Kane remains Bayern Munich's top target, and with only one more season left on his deal after this campaign, Tottenham could be forced to cash-in if he indicates he is ready to leave.

    – Juventus will not renew the contracts of Angel Di Maria, Juan Cuadrado and Adrien Rabiot in order to reduce their wage bill, per La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    – Calciomercato is reporting Roma will join Bayern Munich and Manchester United with interest in €30m Ajax centre-back Jurrien Timber.

    – According to Fabrizio Romano, Newcastle United are monitoring highly regarded Vasco da Gama 18-year-old Andrey Santos.

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