Diego Maradona is making progress in hospital after being admitted due to concerns over anemia and anxiety, his doctor said.

The Argentina and Napoli great was admitted on Monday and is keen to leave, doctor Leopoldo Luque said.

Maradona, who turned 60 last Friday, appeared in a fragile state when he briefly made an appearance as the Gimnasia side he coaches played a match on the evening of his birthday.

He does not have COVID-19 and has not suffered a relapse in any addiction, his doctor has stressed, and the 1986 World Cup winner appears to be taking steps on the road back to better health.

Luque said on Monday that Maradona's spirits were low, but on Tuesday he updated local media at the Ipensa hospital in La Plata to indicate signs were positive.

"Diego is much better than yesterday and eager to leave," Luque said, quoted by La Nacion.

"The night went well and we were joking. I want him to stay one more day. He is anemic and he still feels dehydrated, so we have to correct that.

"He is in good spirits; the idea is to improve him as much as possible. He has been walking inside the clinic."

Luque said Maradona could choose to leave hospital ahead of schedule.

"My goal is for him to stay until tomorrow. But he has autonomy and wants to go. If the patient is conscious, he can decide," Luque said.

"It is a long-term treatment and to be done on an outpatient basis. But he can work whenever he wants."

Luque said on Monday that the pressure of the last week had caused "a downfall of spirits", describing Maradona as being "listless" before he was admitted for treatment.

Darwin Nunez only joined Benfica in September, but his future is already making headlines.

Nunez has hit the ground running at Benfica, where head coach Jorge Jesus has tipped the 21-year-old forward to surpass Joao Felix as the club's most expensive sale following the latter's €126million transfer to Atletico Madrid last year.

Barcelona are reportedly targeting the Uruguay international.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA STEP UP NUNEZ INTEREST

Barcelona are eyeing Benfica star Darwin Nunez as a replacement for Luis Suarez, according to ESPN.

Nunez became Benfica's most expensive signing when he arrived from Almeria in a €24m deal in September, and the 21-year-old has scored four goals since moving to Portugal.

Barca wanted to sign Nunez from Almeria and the LaLiga giants are prepared to rekindle their interest.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport1 claims Bayern Munich are considering RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano as a replacement for David Alaba. Bayern withdrew their offer of a new contract for Alaba, who is in the final year of his deal with the Bundesliga and Champions League holders. He has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, BarcaJuventusParis Saint-Germain and Manchester City. Premier League pair United and Liverpool are believed to be interested in Upamecano.

Atletico are battling Bayern for Brighton and Hove Albion sensation Tariq Lamptey, reports the Daily Mail. Sevilla are also reportedly interested in the former Chelsea full-back.

- Barca are preparing a January bid for City centre-back Eric Garcia following their unsuccessful attempt to re-sign the Spaniard during the previous transfer window, says Sport.

- MilanNews claims Milan will offer Franck Kessie a new contract. Kessie's current deal expires in 2022 as the Rossoneri also look to re-sign Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu, who has been linked to Manchester United.

- Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai is at the top of Inter's wish list as they eye youth, according to Calciomercato. Szoboszlai reportedly has a €25m release clause. The 20-year-old has previously been linked to Arsenal and Napoli.

Chelsea are not courting Juventus star Paulo Dybala as owner Roman Abramovich looks to protect new investments Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech, says Calciomercato. Contract negotiations are ongoing between Dybala and Juve as the likes of PSG, Madrid, Tottenham and United reportedly monitor the situation.

Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso said Sean Connery did not want him to leave Scottish giants Rangers as he remembered the legendary actor.

Connery – best known for his role as fictional British secret agent James Bond in the iconic film series between 1962 and 1983 – died aged 90 on Saturday.

The Scotsman was also a Rangers supporter, while previously serving as a member of the board at Ibrox.

Gattuso – a Champions League and Serie A winner with Milan and World Cup champion with Italy – spent a year playing for Rangers before returning to his homeland via Salernitana in 1998.

Asked about Connery following Napoli's 2-0 loss to Sassuolo on Sunday, Gattuso told reporters: "I only met him once, the president back then was David Murray, he was a member of the board.

"It's true, we spoke on an evening and he absolutely didn't want [me to leave]. What can I say?

"A very big hug to his entire family, the people who represent him, surely I've got beautiful memories of him, very fascinating, great man, he made history in cinema."

Napoli were upstaged by high-flying Sassuolo, who stayed second and within two points of unbeaten leaders Milan.

Manuel Locatelli and Maxime Lopez scored in the second half to leave Gattuso's Napoli fifth and five points off the pace.

Locatelli converted a 59th-minute penalty to become the youngest Italian with two or more goals in Serie A this season, and the youngest player with a penalty goal in the competition this term.

Sassuolo have collected 14 points from their first six games in Serie A – a record for the club after their first six matchdays in a single top-flight season.

"We mustn't listen to people talking about the Scudetto," said Gattuso, whose Napoli edged Real Sociedad in Europa League action on Thursday. "We'll try to get into the top four. It's a very strong league this season, every team is smart, they change their shape, and it is really difficult to find a way through.

"I see my Napoli team. We're not as sharp as we were before, but with a game every two, three days, that's only to be expected."

Diego Maradona's son is clinging to the dream of his father one day becoming coach of Napoli as the Argentina great celebrates his 60th birthday.

According to Diego Sinagra, Maradona's return to Naples would mean the club could sell out their San Paolo stadium 10 times over for every home game.

The prospect of fans in stadiums as well as Maradona holding down a job in Serie A seem remote for now; at present, he is coaching at the highest level in Argentina with Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata.

But Sinagra says having Maradona back at Napoli, the club he led to two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup during an illustrious spell as a player from 1984 to 1991, would be a scenario he would welcome.

Asked if he could foresee Maradona coaching in Spain, Sinagra told Marca: "No, I imagine him in Naples. What a thing that would be! He would fill 10 San Paolos.

"I still have the dream of seeing my old man on the Napoli bench, but it would still be wonderful to see him somewhere else in Europe."

Sinagra, Maradona's Italian son from an extra-marital affair in the mid-1980s, was estranged from his father until he was into his 20s.

Now 34, Sinagra says many of Maradona's off-field problems can be linked to his eagerness to please.

"All the problems my old man had in his life were caused by being too good," Sinagra said.

"Sometimes, like all good people, it is difficult for him to be tough and perhaps also he doesn't know how to say no sometimes. We, the people who really love him, love him for the good things and the bad things."

Sinagra, who played lower-league football and beach football after a spell in the Napoli academy, said it had been difficult at times to be the son of Maradona.

But since being accepted by his father, he says their relationship has been positive.

"Obviously, the past cannot be erased. But we choose, by mutual agreement, not to think anymore about the things that happened and to focus on the future," he said.

"I think my dad loves me like a son. He has a great love for all his children and, of course, for me too."

Gianluigi Donnarumma's future could become clearer soon.

The Milan goalkeeper is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a move amid apparent interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

But Donnarumma could be set for a new deal at San Siro.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN IN FRESH TALKS OVER DONNARUMMA CONTRACT

Donnarumma's agent Mino Raiola was set for talks with Milan over an extension for the Italy international, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

It remains to be seen whether a deal will be done, but the report says the Rossoneri have expressed optimism about a renewal in recent weeks.

Milan are unbeaten through five Serie A games this season and hold a two-point lead at the top.

Donnarumma has played in four of those games, making 11 saves and holding a 90.9 save percentage. His best save percentage in a Serie A season came in 2016-17 (76.4).

ROUND-UP

- Staying in Milan and the city's two rivals could be set for a transfer battle. CalcioMercato reports Inter and Milan may be interested in Napoli defender Nikola Maksimovic, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

- Inter could be busy in January. The Serie A giants may make a move for Parma attacker Gervinho, according to CalcioMercato.

- Could Kieran Trippier leave Atletico Madrid after less than two seasons? Todofichajes says the club are prepared to listen to offers for the England full-back, who could be worth around €28million.

- Brahim Diaz is impressing on loan at Milan from Real Madrid. The Serie A club want to keep the forward beyond his loan spell for 2020-21, according to CalcioMercato.

Kalidou Koulibaly insisted he loved Napoli, but said "we'll see what happens" amid speculation over his future.

Koulibaly, 29, has regularly been linked with a move away from the Serie A side, with Liverpool reportedly interested in the defender.

The Senegal centre-back, who is contracted at Napoli until 2023, acknowledged the interest in him, but said he loved the Italian club.

"I love Naples and Naples loves me, that's the most important thing," Koulibaly said, via Sky Sport, after Thursday's 1-0 Europa League win over Real Sociedad.

"I always make myself available game after game, I still have three years of contract, I'm calm, the teams are looking for me but I'm still here.

"I play at my level and I help this team and these people because I want to give something back to them then we'll see what happens."

After dealing with injuries last season, Koulibaly played his fewest minutes in a league campaign for Napoli since arriving from Genk in 2014.

Koulibaly, whose Napoli are second in the Serie A table through five games this campaign, said it was a tough 2019-20 season.

"I had a more difficult season even if I didn't do badly but we know the level I have and we knew I could give more," he said. 

"This year the coach told me that it mattered a lot about me because I have to help the team and I had to get back to my level. He simply told me the truth and told me to my face and I went to work and available to everyone and today we see the result,

"But we must be aware that the season is still long and there are many games where we need to maintain this level."

Fabian Ruiz continues to attract interest from his native Spain.

The former Real Betis midfielder joined Napoli in 2018 and he has starred for the Italian club.

Real Madrid are reportedly keen to bring Fabian back to Spain.

 

TOP STORY – FABIAN TOPS MADRID'S LIST

Real Madrid have renewed their interest in Napoli star Fabian Ruiz, according to Calciomercato.

Fabian, who is contracted to Serie A outfit Napoli until 2023, has been linked with Madrid, LaLiga rivals Barcelona and Manchester City previously.

The Spain international continues to impress Zinedine Zidane's Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United remain hopeful of signing Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland, claims The Athletic. United tried to sign Haaland before the Norwegian opted to join Dortmund from Salzburg in January. Haaland's €75million (£68m) release clause becomes active in 2022 and United are prepared to wait amid reported interest from the likes of Madrid and Juventus.

- The Athletic also says United are still trying to prise Jadon Sancho from Dortmund after failing to land the England star during the previous transfer window. Sancho has also been linked to Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Madrid and Barcelona.

- AS reports Milan are weighing up a January move for PSG striker Mauro Icardi. The former Inter captain completed a permanent transfer from the Nerazzurri at the start of the season.

- With doubts over Thomas Tuchel's future in Paris, Le10 Sport says the PSG head coach has received approaches from several Premier League clubs. Tuchel is out of contract at the end of the season and sporting director Leonardo is reportedly looking to move on from the German.

Former Italy, Juventus and World Cup-winning boss Marcello Lippi said he is "definitely done" with coaching.

Lippi has been without a job since resigning as China head coach in November last year following a 2022 World Cup qualifying defeat to Syria – his second stint in charge of the Asian nation lasting just six months.

The 72-year-old tasted silverware with Italy, Serie A giants Juventus and Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande but the Italian great will not be returning to the dugout.

"I'm definitely done with the coaching job," Lippi told Radio Sportiva. "That's right, it's enough.

"Maybe I could be useful in other roles, let's see. But nothing until spring."

After spells with Atalanta and Napoli, Lippi took charge of Juventus in 1994 – guiding the Bianconeri to three Serie A titles and the club's last Champions League trophy in 1995-96.

Across two stints as Juve coach, sandwiched in between a one-year tenure with rivals Inter, Lippi won five Serie A trophies, four Supercoppa Italiana crowns, the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup and Coppa Italia.

After leaving Juventus in 2004, Lippi helped Italy to World Cup glory in 2006 and he was re-appointed by the Azzurri in 2008 following two years away from the national team.

In China, Lippi joined Guangzhou Evergrande in 2012 and claimed three Chinese Super League titles and the AFC Champions League trophy to go with Chinese FA Cup and Chinese FA Super Cup success.

 

Napoli have been handed a 3-0 loss and docked a point for failing to fulfil their fixture against Juventus, Lega Serie A announced on Wednesday.

Gennaro Gattuso's side did not travel to Turin for the game on October 4 after players Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas, as well as staff member Giandomenico Costi, tested positive for coronavirus.

Lega Serie A refused a request from Napoli, who argued they had been banned from travelling by local health authorities, to postpone the meeting at the Allianz Stadium because they technically still had at least 13 players available for selection.

Juve had already confirmed their intention to play despite reporting two positive cases among staff on the day prior to the match.

Andrea Pirlo named a starting XI but the team did not warm-up and the game failed to go ahead as scheduled.

Lega Serie A's disciplinary commission deemed that Napoli did not have sufficient reason to miss the fixture, although Napoli are expected to lodge an appeal against the sanctions.

Kylian Mbappe has long been coveted by Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has also made no secret of his admiration for fellow Frenchman Zidane.

But Erling Haaland could be a cheaper option for Madrid amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID TURN TO HAALAND?

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland is an alternative transfer target for Real Madrid if Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe does not move to the Santiago Bernabeu, according to the front page of Tuesday's Marca.

Mbappe – also linked to Liverpool – has long been Madrid's number one transfer target and the LaLiga champions are preparing to make a move for the PSG star in 2021.

But if Mbappe does not make the switch from France to Spain, Haaland has emerged as another option for Zinedine Zidane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are targeting a triple transfer swoop in January, reports Tuesday's edition of Mundo Deportivo. After failing in the previous window, Barca are prepared to renew their attempts to sign Lyon captain Memphis Depay, Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Manchester City defender Eric Garcia.

Manchester United are very interested in Rennes and France sensation Eduardo Camavinga, says AS. The teenage midfielder has been heavily linked with Madrid and PSG.

- Calciomercato says Roma will return for Napoli outcast Arkadiusz Milik in January. Roma tried to sign the forward before the transfer window closed. It comes as Roma could offer Edin Dzeko a new contract after he was poised to join Juventus.

- Football London claims Chelsea are set to hand midfielder Jorginho a new contract after rejecting a move to rivals Arsenal.

Bayern Munich have enjoyed a hugely productive transfer deadline day with three new arrivals at the Allianz Arena, while Manchester United look set for a hectic final few hours. 

Bayern had always looked likely to be active in the last days of the window, with the re-emergence of Callum Hudson-Odoi as a target indicative of their plans. 

But Bayern were unable to lure the England talent away from Chelsea and the German champions subsequently turned their attention to a familiar face. 

Douglas Costa, who previously spent two years with Bayern, returns on a season-long loan from Juventus, who subsequently bolstered their attacking options with Italy international Federico Chiesa. 

Costa, 30, was one of three arrivals, however – Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting secured another move to an elite European club having spent the previous two years with Paris Saint-Germain.

The German-born Cameroon forward previously played for hometown club Hamburg, Nurnberg, Mainz and Schalke in the Bundesliga. 

Bouna Sarr is the other player to join, with the right-back arriving from Marseille and bolstering their defensive options to allow for Joshua Kimmich to take up the mantle in midfield following Thiago Alcantara's move to Liverpool. 

Manchester United are expected to make moves in the coming hours, having already snapped up Alex Telles from Porto, who have also seen Danilo Pereira depart to PSG. 

A deal for Edinson Cavani to join Telles at Old Trafford is reportedly done, while Ousmane Dembele has been mentioned as a target. Similarly, youngsters Facundo Pellistri and Amad Traore are thought to be nearing agreements. 

OLD LADY SPLASH THE CASH

Chiesa is the biggest name on the move in Europe so far, with the Italy winger signing a two-year loan deal at Allianz Stadium which Juve are obliged to make permanent in a deal, one that could eventually earn Fiorentina €60million. 

La Viola have seen several incomings as well, however, with Jose Callejon following defenders Antonio Barreca and Lucas Martinez Quarta in joining the club. 

Roma have managed to offload a few players, with Diego Perotti moving to Fenerbahce and Justin Kluivert joining RB Leipzig – and they are still hoping to bring in defensive reinforcements, Chris Smalling and Antonio Rudiger strongly linked. 

Italian full-backs have certainly been a popular commodity on deadline day, with Matteo Darmian linking up with Inter and Mattia De Sciglio leaving Juve for Lyon.

GONNA TAKE YOU TO THE EIBAR

While Real Madrid and Barcelona appear set for quiet days, the same cannot be said for one of the teams hoping to trouble them in LaLiga this term – Sevilla. 

The Europa League winners have shipped two of their most promising youngsters to Eibar, with Bryan Gil and Alejandro Pozo providing the Basque side with greater depth on the flanks. 

Netherlands-born Morocco international winger Oussama Idrissa joins Sevilla in a reported €13m deal from AZ, while Oranje centre-back Karim Rekik moves to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan from Hertha Berlin for an estimated cost of €4m. 

They could yet bring in Joshua King from Bournemouth as well.

Madrid's lack of activity does not mean the Zidane household has no news, however, as Luca Zidane has flown the nest and joined Rayo Vallecano on a permanent deal.

Meanwhile, Real Valladolid secured the loan signing of highly rated Benfica winger Jota.

INS AND OUTS AT ARSENAL?

The biggest deal in the earlier part of deadline day in England was Ben Godfrey's transfer from Norwich City to Everton, which could land the Canaries £30m. 

Another young prospect on the move is Matteo Guendouzi. The French talent has fallen out of favour at Arsenal and he has been allowed to join Hertha Berlin for the season. 

In his place could come Thomas Partey, the Atletico Madrid midfielder who has been strongly linked with the Gunners for several months. 

The Ghana international is reportedly set to have his €50m release clause triggered by Arsenal, with Atletico previously making it clear they have no desire to negotiate with interested parties. 

Elsewhere in London, Chelsea have once again loaned out Tiemoue Bakayoko, who after playing at Milan and Monaco in the past two seasons now joins up with Napoli.

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli insisted coronavirus protocols are "very clear" after Napoli did not travel for the Serie A blockbuster amid COVID-19 cases.

Napoli are reportedly facing a 3-0 forfeit after Gennaro Gattuso's side did not make the trip to Turin for Sunday's showdown against champions Juventus.

High-flying Napoli were advised not to travel by local health authorities after Piotr Zielinski, Eljif Elmas and staff member Giandomenico Costi tested positive for COVID-19.

Juve themselves reported two positive cases among staff on Saturday – revealing their squad were isolating internally as a result – but they later released a statement confirming they intended to play the game.

However, four hours before the scheduled kick-off time on Sunday, Serie A rejected Napoli's formal request to have the game postponed, as the club technically had at least 13 players available.

Juve still arrived at Allianz Stadium and named a starting XI, though Andrea Pirlo's team did not warm up on the pitch or come out at scheduled.

"I am here because it is only right that we express our opinion," said Agnelli. "We need clarity. There are protocols that are very clear for situations like this, the situation was predictable, that there would be one or two COVID cases in the matchday squad.

"At that point, we go to the protocol passed by the CTS and the Lega Serie A, which is that we go into fiduciary isolation at a structure agreed with the ASL.

"That allows us all to go into the structure, to continue training and playing when tested regularly. There is clarity, the Federation worked well with the Ministry for Health and CTS to make sure we all know what needs to be done.

"Juventus discovered there were two COVID cases yesterday [Saturday], so naturally we all went into the bubble so we'd be ready to play this game."

"The protocol was drawn up by the government and the CTS," he added. "If we go into situations with borderline scenarios, then we can look to the protocol and then work out the individual situations.

"The focus remains on public health, of course, but this protocol was drawn up in order to allow us to continue our profession."

"The sporting rules are... clear and say that if a team does not show up, they face disciplinary sanctions. The sporting judge will speak tomorrow [Monday], and based on his decision, there will be further reflections," Agnelli continued.

"It is evident that the fact that a team does not reach a stadium to play a planned match does not give a great image of Italian football. We are too provincial, and we are not concerned enough about things happening outside our borders. We are only concerned about internal matters, without understanding the damages that we do the international image of our football."

Asked if he had contact with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, Agnelli said: "His message was to postpone the game, which can well be a legitimate request, but there are some very clear rules and we all have to stick to them.

"Any industry has its rules and if we don't follow them, that is an error not just as professionals, but as citizens."

Juventus seem likely to be awarded a 3-0 victory over Napoli after the game was not started as scheduled as Gennaro Gattuso's side did not travel to Turin for Sunday's Serie A match.

Napoli were advised not to travel by local health authorities after Piotr Zielinski, Eljif Elmas and staff member Giandomenico Costi tested positive for COVID-19.

Juve themselves reported two positive cases among staff on Saturday – revealing their squad were isolating internally as a result – but they later released a statement confirming they intended to play the game. 

However, four hours before the scheduled kick-off time on Sunday, Serie A rejected Napoli's formal request to have the game postponed, as the club – who also confirmed Gattuso had not tested positive for coronavirus, despite rumours to the contrary – technically have at least 13 players available.

Despite having no opponents to play, Juve still arrived at Allianz Stadium, with Andrea Pirlo naming a starting XI, though the players did not warm up on the pitch or come out at the scheduled kick-off time.   Napoli will conduct a further round of testing on Monday, with their next match set to be played on October 17 against Atalanta.

Napoli's formal request to have Sunday's game with Juventus called off due to a coronavirus outbreak has been rejected by Serie A. 

Local health authorities ordered Napoli into quarantine after players Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas tested positive for COVID-19, as well as staff member Giandomenico Costi. 

Juve themselves reported two positive cases among staff on Saturday – revealing their squad were isolating internally as a result – but they later released a statement confirming they intended to play the game. 

But Gennaro Gattuso's side have not travelled to Turin, asking instead for the game at the Allianz Stadium to be pushed back to another date. 

However, Lega Serie A announced around four hours before the scheduled kick-off that the match is still on as Napoli technically have at least 13 players available for selection. 

It means Juventus are expected to be awarded a 3-0 walkover win, should they turn up and Napoli fail to show.

A statement on the Lega Serie A's official website read: "Following Napoli's official request, the Lega Calcio states that the current rules aim to guarantee the health of everybody, the equal treatment for all clubs and the respect of the principles of sportsmanship. 

"The statement of ASL Campania asks fiduciary isolation for the close contacts of Piotr Zielinski. Therefore, in this case it is applied the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) protocol agreed with the Technical-Scientific Committee and integrated with the notice of the Italian Health Minister on June 18, 2020 and that was not taken into account in the email sent by the vice-head of cabinet of the Regione Campania. 

"The same rule was applied to other cases in the past and, for instance, it allowed Torino to play against Atalanta, Milan's trip to Crotone, Genoa's away game at the San Paolo v Napoli and Atalanta's home match against Cagliari. 

"Even if there are cases of players in the group who tested positive for coronavirus, the protocol provides certain and mandatory rules that allow games to be played by fielding all the footballers who tested negative through exams undergone within the time range given by the health authorities. 

"The Council of the Lega Calcio did also approve a set of rules that can lead to the postponement of a game only with several cases of players testing positive for the virus. These conditions can’t be applied to the current Napoli case at the moment and there are no decisions of the local authorities that prevent the game from being played." 

Meanwhile, Napoli issued a short statement on Sunday to deny rumours that head coach Gattuso had also tested positive for coronavirus.  

Napoli will conduct a further round of testing on Monday, with their next match scheduled for October 17 against Atalanta.

Andrea Pirlo praised Cristiano Ronaldo's start to the season and hopes the Juventus forward's form can continue.

Ronaldo has scored three goals and provided an assist in two Serie A games to begin the 2020-21 campaign, helping Juve collect four points.

Ahead of Sunday's scheduled clash against Napoli, Juve head coach Pirlo hailed the star – and hopes more goals are to come.

"Ronaldo works very hard. He is the first to come to training and the last to go home," he told a news conference.

"He brings enthusiasm, you can notice it on the pitch as well. He started the season really well, I hope he will keep doing like this until the end of the season.

"I wish he'll score one or two goals every game. He is really important for us.

"In Rome we were a man down and he helped a lot until the end of the game. He is an example for everyone."

Ronaldo and Juventus were drawn to face Lionel Messi's Barcelona, Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros in Group G of the Champions League.

Pirlo is ready for the challenge, but pointed to getting a trip to Kiev on October 20 as an important aspect for Juve as they target a first Champions League title since 1996.

"We are in a very good group. It's always great to face Barcelona because it brings more responsibilities and attention to our players," he said.

"We know we'll play lot of games, but I think it is good that we'll play the first game in Kiev. In October it's less cold than December there, maybe we'll not play in the snow then."

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