Ronaldo ruled out for Juventus with thigh injury as Pirlo prepares to start Dybala

The Bianconeri will be without their talismanic Portuguese forward against Atalanta, but an Argentina international is ready to step in

Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out of Juventus' meeting with Atalanta on Sunday with a thigh injury.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been unable to play a full part in training over recent days and will not be risked in a Serie A clash between two top-four chasing sides.

Andrea Pirlo does have plenty of alternatives at his disposal, though, and is planning on handing a starting berth to Paulo Dybala - who has not figured from the off for Juve since January 10 due to a knee problem.

What has been said?

Pirlo told reporters at a press conference looking ahead to a crunch clash with Atalanta: "Cristiano Ronaldo has a problem with his thigh flexors, he won't be there against Atalanta.

"We will try to recover him for Wednesday [against Parma].

"He wasn’t able to ‘push’ the way he wanted to in training this week and we prefer not to risk it. The internationals didn't help, he's been playing a lot lately.

"Paulo Dybala will start tomorrow."

Any other news on the fitness front?

Dybala McKennie Juventus Napoli Serie A

While losing Ronaldo represents an obvious blow to the Juve cause, Dybala has been eased back into action off the bench in recent fixtures.

Pirlo is also expecting to be in a position to call upon Weston McKennie and Arthur against Atalanta, with the American and Brazilian midfielders overcoming slight knocks.

Leonardo Bonucci is also available again after serving a Covid-19-enforced period of self-isolation, but he is not yet back to full match sharpness.

Pirlo added: "Arthur and McKennie are fine, they are fully available for tomorrow. 

"Bonucci, after Covid, is doing a specific job to get back to top shape.

"[Juan] Cuadrado can be a solution, both high and low. We have thought of various situations. 

"We need to give confidence to young people, it is not a gamble and we are doing it, for example with [Dejan] Kulusevski."

The bigger picture

Juve sit third in the Serie A table as things stand, with a 12-point gap separating them from leaders Inter with only eight games left to take in.

It appears as thought the Italian top-flight crown will be leaving Turin for the first time in a decade, with questions being asked of Pirlo's ongoing presence as a result.

Champions League qualification is, however, still up for grabs and the Bianconeri have a Coppa Italia final date with Atalanta to look forward to in May.

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