Juventus started their bid for a ninth consecutive Serie A title with a narrow, but thoroughly deserved, 1-0 win over Parma at Stadio Ennio Tardini on Saturday.

New boss Maurizio Sarri was absent from the dugout as he is recovering from pneumonia, but he will be buoyed by a performance that suggested they will once again be the team to beat this season.

Giorgio Chiellini scored the only goal of the game after 21 minutes, while Cristiano Ronaldo saw a goal ruled out for offside before the interval.

Juve were unable to add a second despite dominating throughout, although it mattered little as they comfortably kept Parma at arm's length to start the season in familiar fashion.

The visitors started with a spring in their step and should have gone ahead after 12 minutes, Ronaldo's header from 10 yards fizzing narrowly over.

Wojciech Szczesny pawed away Roberto Inglese's instinctive effort at the other end before Chiellini opened the scoring, the veteran defender diverting home Alex Sandro's scuffed volley from 10 yards.

Ronaldo should have doubled their advantage eight minutes later but flashed wide after being played in by Gonzalo Higuain.

There was more frustration for the Portugal international before the break when he saw a goal disallowed by VAR for offside. He lashed home superbly from a tight angle but replays showed he was marginally offside as he raced to collect Douglas Costa's pass.

Parma started the second half with more intent than they had shown in the opening 45 minutes, although they struggled to breakdown Juve's resolute defence.

Ronaldo clipped over from Costa's pull-back on the hour mark before Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe kept out the former Real Madrid's star's powerful drive from 20 yards.

The Bianconeri eased up in the closing stages, rarely looking like they would add a second, but the damage had been done by their defensive colossus in the first half.

 

What does it mean? Juve pick up where they left off

Juve were not at their very best but they scarcely needed to be to cruise past a limited Parma outfit. If Sarri was watching, he will have seen a team that looks solid at the back and lively in attack – the perfect combination for yet another title tilt.

Ronaldo wasteful but looking sharp

Any thoughts that the 34-year-old's powers might be diminishing were dispelled in a performance brimming with swagger and skill. He missed two clear chances in the first half and saw a goal ruled out, but he can reflect on a showing that bodes well for the season ahead.

Higuain fails to take chance

Few expected the Argentina international to be given a chance at Juve this season, which is why it was such a surprise to see Gonzalo Higuain starting in attack. He did little to suggest he will stay there, though, with a display every bit as listless as those he produced on loan at Chelsea last season.

What's next?

Juve welcome last season's runners-up and Sarri's former club Napoli to the Allianz Stadium next Saturday, while Parma travel to Udinese a day later.

Adrien Rabiot said Cristiano Ronaldo is helping him improve at the Serie A champions as he hailed the Juventus superstar.

Rabiot is preparing for Saturday's league debut with Juventus against Parma after joining from Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

Having settled in Turin, French midfielder Rabiot praised Juve team-mate and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo.

"I played a lot this summer, because I needed to adapt to the team," Rabiot told Sky Sport 24.

"I'm managing to create an excellent affinity with Cristiano Ronaldo, because he also plays on the left. Training with him allows me to improve myself a lot and his presence is very good for the group."

"Turin is different from Paris. It's smaller, but it's a beautiful city," he added. "I am finding myself at ease and I managed to adapt well, which is very important for what I can then give on the field.

"Personally, I can't wait to start this adventure. I feel fit, we have worked a lot this summer, but we are ready for this appointment. With Parma it will be difficult, because we are the team to beat, and everyone will always give their best against us, but we are confident."

New head coach Maurizio Sarri will not be on the Juventus bench for their opening two Serie A games as he recovers from pneumonia.

Sarri, who arrived from Chelsea in the off-season, will miss Saturday's trip to Parma as well as the home match against former side Napoli on August 31.

"The coach made an excellent impression on me," said Rabiot. "He has a precise game philosophy and knows exactly how we must play, both in the offensive and defensive phases.

"We have already absorbed his concepts and we are working well with his staff."

Franck Ribery hopes to play on beyond the age of 40 after joining Fiorentina but says he does not intend to be a rival to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ribery's 12-year stay at Bayern Munich concluded when his contract expired at the end of the 2018-19 season, in which he won a ninth Bundesliga title.

Following prolonged speculation about his next move, the former France winger agreed a two-year deal with La Viola.

And Ribery, who plans to follow in the footsteps of Serie A veterans such as Francesco Totti, is aiming to lead Fiorentina back into the Champions League.

"We have had a very long negotiation, but I am very happy to be here in Florence," said the 36-year-old.

"I saw great motivation and great confidence in me from the management, and that is why I am here. Naturally, my wife also helped in the choice, because my family is very important.

"I am very motivated, I always want to play. I have a two-year contract and I want to be decisive and help the young players. I want to give something new to this club, I want to bring Fiorentina into the top three of the table.

"I came here to help my team, which is Fiorentina. I am not here to be a rival to Ronaldo. Serie A is a great tournament with many excellent players. Inter bought well on the market, as did Juventus.

"The thing I appreciate the most is that people here love and live for football. It's a wonderful experience and I want to enjoy myself on the field.

"Football is my life. It's the reason I wanted to remain in Europe and I was fortunate to find Fiorentina. I hope to continue playing until the age of 40, just like Francesco Totti."

Fiorentina open the new Serie A season at home to Napoli on Saturday but Ribery is not expecting to be involved.

"I am not ready to start, but I am happy that I got to train with the squad today, which is very different to training by yourself," he added. 

"I need a week or two to be ready to play, but if the coach [Vincenzo Montella] tells me that I'm needed, I will step up."

Cristiano Ronaldo says he discovered he belonged to a "world of stars" upon comparing himself to the rest of Manchester United's strong squad in 2003.

The future Real Madrid and Juventus forward rose to a prominence after moving to Old Trafford from Sporting CP as a skinny teenager.

Then a flashy winger, Ronaldo scored four goals from 29 appearances in his debut Premier League campaign.

Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy were among United's most prominent players at the time and Ronaldo quickly gained belief he too was destined to reach the top of the game.

"When I started playing for Manchester United at 18, 19, because I was as good as the players who were there I realised 'I'm close to achieving great things'," Ronaldo told Portuguese broadcaster TVI.

"Of course, I was a kid and I had a lot to learn – and I learned a lot from them – but I was in that world of stars.

"I saw that they were not doing anything that I couldn't do.

"There were better players than me: Giggs had more experience and was a better player than me at the time, Rio Ferdinand, Roy Keane, [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer... but I felt that if I worked, with the talent I had, I could be the best player in the Premier League, for example."

Ronaldo spent six seasons at United, winning a first Ballon d'Or the before a €94million (£80m) transfer to Madrid in 2009.

The Portugal captain has since scooped European football's foremost individual honour a further four times.

Barcelona superstar and long-time rival Lionel Messi is the only other player to have claimed the Ballon d'Or on five occasions.

"I know that I am one of the best in my work and that I am in the history of football," Ronaldo said.

"It is no coincidence that only Messi and I have five. It is no accident. And I still feel motivated to try to win collective and individual prizes."

Ronaldo and Juventus commence their Serie A campaign away to Parma on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo believes a 25-year-old version of himself would be worth up to €300million in today's transfer market.

Juventus splashed out €112m including add-ons when they signed the Portugal captain from Real Madrid in 2018.

Only five players – Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Joao Felix, Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho – have commanded larger fees.

Two members of the quintet made their mega-money moves as teenagers and Ronaldo, now 34, has reservations about the increasing prices for youngsters who are yet to prove themselves at the top level.

"Today there is a lot of focus on potential and the football industry is different," the superstar forward told Portuguese broadcaster TVI.

"I'll put the case of Joao Felix aside. Nowadays any player is worth €100m, even without proof. There is more money in football.

"Central defenders and goalkeepers are worth €70million, €80million.

"I do not agree with it, but this is the world we live in. The market is like that, we have to respect it."

Ronaldo formerly held the all-time transfer fee record after Madrid forked out €94m to prise him away from Manchester United in 2009.

Asked how much he would be worth aged 25 in modern terms, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner replied: "It is hard to calculate.

"If a goalkeeper is worth €75m, a player who has done what I had must be worth three to four times more. Easy.

"But I have no such illusion."

Juventus and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo remains unsure when he will retire, saying it could be as soon as next year or he could play into his 40s.

Ronaldo, 34, has continued to star after joining Juve last year, scoring 28 goals in 43 games in all competitions and helping the Italian giants win another Serie A title in 2018-19.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is uncertain when he will stop playing, although the star forward said it may not be far away.

"I don't think about that," Ronaldo told TVI on Tuesday.

"Maybe I can leave my career next year … but I can also play up to 40 or 41.

"I don't know. What I always say is to enjoy the moment. The gift is excellent and I have to continue to enjoy it."

Along with numerous individual honours, Ronaldo has won a record five Champions League titles (four with Real Madrid and one with Manchester United), three Premier League crowns and two LaLiga trophies.

Ronaldo wants to make history and is seemingly motivated by setting records.

"Are there any soccer players who have more records than me?" he asked.

"I don't think there are any footballers who have more records than me."

Ronaldo's Juventus begin their Serie A campaign with a trip to Parma on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been left out of Juventus' squad for their final pre-season friendly against Triestina.

The Portugal international sat out Wednesday's intra-squad practice match with slight fatigue to his left adductor and will not participate in Saturday's match at Stadio Nereo Rocco as a precautionary measure.

He also missed an exhibition match against Team K League in Seoul last month but had featured in Juve's other outings prior to this week, including a 71-minute appearance in the 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid seven days ago.

Serie A champions Juventus, who begin their title defence with a trip to Parma next Saturday, can call upon new signing Aaron Ramsey for the first time since he joined the club as a free agent.

Ramsey has spent the last two weeks training after recovering from a muscle injury and is part of Juve's 24-man squad for the match with Serie C side Triestina.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri will not be present, though, having been struck down by flu this week.

Champions League winner Virgil van Dijk is joined by Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo on the three-man shortlist for UEFA's Player of the Year award.

Van Dijk played a vital role in Liverpool's successful European campaign, playing 12 times en route to lifting the trophy.

As well as the UEFA recognition, he is also expected to be a major contender for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, as is Messi.

Barcelona reached the semi-finals before being eliminated by Liverpool, but Messi still managed to enjoy a fine Champions League campaign.

The Argentina star scored 12 goals – including two against the Reds at Camp Nou – from 10 matches.

Ronaldo's inclusion is rather more surprising, given Juventus were eliminated by Ajax in the quarter-finals.

The Portugal attacker scored a respectable six times in nine matches, but that was an unspectacular impact compared to his 15-goal haul in 12 outings the season before.

The shortlist was selected by a jury of 80 coaches from clubs involved in the Champions League and Europa League group stages, plus 55 journalists from UEFA's 55 member associations.

One of the three players will be presented with the award on August 29, during the Champions League group stage draw ceremony.

Cristiano Ronaldo will not feature in an intra-squad practice match at Villar Perosa on Wednesday, Juventus have confirmed.

Juve are putting the finishing touches to their preparations for the new Serie A campaign, which begins against Parma on August 24.

Maurizio Sarri's side have no more friendlies coming up, but the squad will take part in a practice match at their traditional training camp at Villar Perosa, close to Turin.

One player who will not feature is Ronaldo, who will train with the squad but not participate in the match due to slight fatigue to his left adductor.

Ronaldo's fitness has been monitored closely throughout pre-season, with Sarri electing not to play the 34-year-old in an exhibition match against Team K League in Seoul on July 26, though the former Real Madrid star has featured in Juve's other outings.

Georginio Wijnaldum has given a unique insight into "special" Jurgen Klopp's man-management methods after revealing the Liverpool boss addressed his team ahead of the 2018 Champions League final wearing Cristiano Ronaldo-branded underwear.

The Reds boss has carved a reputation for his jovial antics and, according to midfielder Wijnaldum, the German's pre-match team-talk for the showdown against Real Madrid - for whom then-star player Ronaldo was the chief threat - was no exception after he lightened the mood in his own inimitable style.

"We saw he was wearing the boxer shorts of Cristiano Ronaldo," the Netherlands midfielder told The Athletic. 

"He did the meeting with his shirt stuffed inside his 'CR7' boxers. The whole changing room was on the floor laughing their heads off. That really broke the ice. Usually in those situations, everyone is serious and concentrated. But he was relaxed and made this joke.

"He's done hundreds of jokes likes that. If you see that your manager is really confident and relaxed, it will have an effect on players. He is a father figure in those things for the players. With his jokes and his body language, he takes the pressure off players."

Liverpool ultimately lost the game 3-1 but went one better the following season, defeating Tottenham 2-0 to claim a sixth triumph in Europe's premier competition.

It has cemented Klopp's status as one of the world's leading coaches and Wijnaldum has paid tribute to the German's man-management style.

Wijnaldum said: "He always tries to empathise with the other person, to feel what they're going through. He is a really special man for me. I see him as more than a manager - a really good friend."

He continued: "He is the kind of manager that will be angry about things in the game, or will show emotion during a game, but when it comes to half-time, he speaks with you and gives you confidence. 'You can do it better. You have to do this, have to do that…'

"He is one of the first managers I've had who doesn't get angry when you try to do the things that you are good at. He will never be angry when you try to use your talent or quality. Even if it goes wrong.

"Since I am at Liverpool, he has helped me a lot. Not only with football, but also as a person, the way you think about things. That is why I enjoy every day of working with him. I can be really mad at him one day. But the next day the anger is gone and we will love each other again."

Danilo is motivated to become a better player at Juventus with the help of former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo and new head coach Maurizio Sarri.

The Brazil full-back made the move to Turin last week as part of a deal that saw Joao Cancelo move the opposite way to Manchester City.

He will reunite with five-time Balon d'Or winner Ronaldo at the Allianz Stadium, having previously won two Champions League titles together at Madrid.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Danilo joked he had already asked for the number seven shirt belonging to Ronaldo.

"I spoke to him before coming here. I said to him that I wanted to take the number seven jersey, but it was already taken," Danilo said.

"He spoke very highly of Juventus and to play with him will be an extra motivation. I found a very motivated and happy Ronaldo. He spoke about the club like a family and this was reassuring to me. It was great to hear such things."

Danilo made the switch to Juve at a time of transition for the Italian champions, who brought in ex-Chelsea and Napoli boss Sarri as Massimiliano Allegri's successor.

"Sarri has a very particular style," the 28-year-old said. "He likes to command play. Napoli and Chelsea are two different teams who are difficult to face.

"I like his style of play very much and I am ready to learn and evolve every day. Sarri has asked me to be very attentive in the defensive phase of the game, and that I am free to express my potential.

"I don’t think I’ll have difficulty adapting to what he is asking for. I know that defending is very important in Italy, but I am 28 years old and open to learning anything that I need to become a better player."

After being used predominantly as a back-up option at City, featuring 34 times across two Premier League seasons, Danilo felt it was time for a new challenge with Juventus.

"Every moment is important to help forge you as a player," said Danilo, who has been handed the number 13 shirt. "Although I didn’t play the way I wanted to, these years were fundamental and will help me have the right mentality here at Juve.

"The first impressions have been good. I have been welcomed warmly and I feel great being here these first few days. There were already discussions with Juventus in the past, but I believe that this is the right moment to be here."

Cristiano Ronaldo said Zinedine Zidane made him feel special at the LaLiga giants as he hailed the Real Madrid head coach.

Ronaldo left Madrid ahead of the 2018-19 season, joining Juventus in a blockbuster €112million deal after three consecutive Champions League titles under Zidane.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner enjoyed great success during his time with Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu, also winning LaLiga in 2016-17.

Ronaldo heaped praise on Zidane – who is in his second stint in charge of Madrid – as he discussed the pair's relationship.

"The confidence that a player needs doesn't only come from himself but also from the players around him and the coach," Ronaldo told DAZN.

"You need to feel like you are an important part of the group and Zidane made me feel special.

"He helped me a lot. I already had a lot of respect for him but working with him made me admire him more.

"That's because of what he's like as a person, how he talks, how he led the team and how he treated me.

"He'd tell me, 'Cris, relax and just play your game - you are the one who is going to make the difference.'

"He was always honest with me and that's why I'll always have a real affection for him."

Ronaldo scored 21 Serie A goals in his first season with Italian champions Juventus, who won their eighth successive Scudetto.

Lionel Messi has beaten Cristiano Ronaldo to UEFA's Goal of the Season award for 2018-19.

The Barcelona captain came first in the vote on UEFA's website for his spectacular free-kick against Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Camp Nou.

Ronaldo came second for a strike against his former club Manchester United for Juventus in the group stage, while Porto midfielder Danilo Pereira took third place for a solo run and shot from distance for Portugal against Serbia in March.

It is the third time in five seasons Messi has won this particular prize, having also come out on top in 2015 and 2016.

Mario Mandzukic was honoured for his stunning volley in the Champions League final loss to Real Madrid in 2017, while Ronaldo was victorious last year for the overhead kick he scored against future employers Juve.

Only goals from UEFA club or international fixtures in 2018-19 were eligible for consideration, with a UEFA expert panel selecting the shortlist from which the winner was chosen by a public vote.

Messi's goal went unrewarded last season as Barca were beaten 4-0 at Anfield in the second leg to lose the tie 4-3 on aggregate.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and five Liverpool players have been shortlisted for 2018-19 Champions League positional awards. 

Liverpool defeated Tottenham in the Champions League final and have seen goalkeeper Alisson, defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk, midfielder Jordan Henderson and forward Sadio Mane named among the contenders in their respective categories.

Tottenham also have representation through keeper Hugo Lloris and midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Barcelona superstar Messi, who was the top scorer in last season's competition with 12 goals, will vie with Mane and old adversary Ronaldo for the forward award.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong and defender Matthijs de Ligt – who are now at Barcelona and Juventus respectively – were also nominated after playing pivotal roles in Ajax's run to the semi-finals.

The awards will be presented during the 2019-20 Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on Thursday 29 August.

The shortlisting jury comprised the coaches of the 32 clubs from last season's group stage and journalists from each of UEFA's 55 member associations.

 

Full list of nominees for 2018-19 Champions League position awards:
  
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur); Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona).
 
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax, now Juventus), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool).
 
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax, now Barcelona), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).
 
Forwards: Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus).

Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku would "do each other good" according to Belgium legend Enzo Scifo, who indicated he feels Juventus would be the right destination for his compatriot should he leave Manchester United.

Lukaku could be on his way to Turin if United can reach a deal with Juventus that may see Argentina playmaker Paulo Dybala move in the opposite direction.

Scifo, who played for Inter and Torino during a career that saw him earn 84 caps for Belgium, believes Lukaku needs to be at a club that builds a team around him, but does not see Ronaldo's presence at Juventus as an obstacle.

He told Gazzetta dello Sport: "One does not exclude the other. Real Madrid had Karim Benzema alongside him and he scored a lot thanks to Ronaldo.

"I see a similar situation: Cristiano would play 'for' Romelu, take the pressure of him, and then in the area Lukaku would engage the defenders. They would do each other good.

"Lukaku has the quality to be a super striker, but on one condition: the team has to play for him. Make the most of his features: I think Juve would do it."

Scifo was asked whether his former club Inter might be still be in the running to sign Lukaku, but the 53-year-old, who spent just one season at the Nerazzurri in 1987-88, thinks it would be an inferior move for the striker.

"I don't get into negotiations, but at this moment Juve are a step above, although Inter are growing," said Scifo.

"Someone like Antonio Conte can change a club. You need someone with his ferocity to get close to Juventus.

"The cities are different, too. Turin is placid, relaxed, people let you just get on and live your life. Romelu would really like living there, whereas it's more difficult to play in Milan, even if the city is just as beautiful."

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