Andrea Pirlo sees positives despite preparing for his biggest match since taking over as Juventus coach with Covid-19 -stricken Cristiano Ronaldo in doubt against Lionel Messi's Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Juventus signed Portuguese star Ronaldo in 2018 with the aim of lifting the coveted European trophy, and his absence against Messi's Barcelona could weigh heavy.The 35-year-old will need to test negative 24 hours before being allowed to feature in Turin. The return at the Camp Nou is on December 8. "We miss him right now, of course," said Colombian teammate Juan Cuadrado. "He's a champion. In these very difficult matches, his strength, his mentality and his desire shine through."
Ronaldo scored three goals for Juventus in their first two league games, before contracting the virus while on international duty.
If Ronaldo misses his chance to line out on Wednesday he will have to wait until December to renew his rivalry with Argentine Messi. They are the two greatest players of their generation with 11 Ballons d'Or between them, and the two highest scorers in Champions League history. They have not faced off since the Portuguese superstar left Real Madrid for Juventus, and both are running out of time to win the Champions League again.
Messi, now 33, has featured in four victorious campaigns, all with Barcelona, while Ronaldo has won it five times, four with Real Madrid and once with Manchester United.
Immobile building on fine Lazio start
You would never have known from their Matchday 1 performance that Lazio had been out of the UEFA Champions League for 13 years; Ciro Immobile spearheaded a 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund, and the man who won the 2019-20 ESM Golden Shoe with 36 Serie A goals will hope more opportunities await against Club Brugge -- who halted an eight-game winless group stage run with a 2-1 success at Zenit last time out.
Rebrov up against his first love
Coach Serhiy Rebrov will be the centre of attention as Ferencvaros play their first group stage home game since 1995. The 46-year-old sparkled during two stints as a Dynamo striker, then led the club to two Ukrainian titles as coach from 2014–17. "I didn't want to have a Ukrainian team in our group, especially Dynamo," he conceded. "But I'm coach of Ferencvaros now and we'll treat them like any other opponents."
Mbappe out to end a barren spell
Paris' Kylian Mbappe was slated for a toothless showing in Matchday 1's 2-1 loss to United; he featured on L'Equipe's cover under the headline: "Unrecognisable". The 21-year-old bagged four goals in his first four Ligue 1 games this season but is enduring the longest UEFA Champions League barren spell of his career: six matches without scoring -- so no goals in 2020. Will that sequence end in Basaksehir's first group stage home fixture?
Can Chelsea make their mark in Russia?
Chelsea's 0-0 draw with Sevilla on Matchday 1 was overshadowed in England by United's triumph in Paris, but a clean sheet for Frank Lampard's high-profile but occasionally absent-minded team was probably worthy of more comment. Beaten soundly by Bayern in last season's round of 16, the Blues have not won a European game in 2020; will they upstage Krasnodar as the Russian newcomers play their first group stage home match?