Engulfed in turmoil, Cristiano Ronaldo will look to pick up where he left off on the pitch as Juventus host Genoa in Serie A today before next week’s trip to his former club Manchester United in the Champions League. Ronaldo shrugged off explosive rape allegations to score for the champions in their last Serie A game against Udinese before the international break on October 6 to keep Juventus’s 100% record after eight games.
The allegations made by 34-year-old American Kathryn Mayorga, that Ronaldo raped her in a Las Vegas hotel in 2009, threaten to engulf the Portuguese superstar in a lengthy legal battle. Ronaldo, 33, issued a statement to “firmly deny the accusations” but was left out of Portugal’s squad for this month’s 3-1 friendly win over Scotland, and 3-2 Nations League victory against Poland.
Juventus have stood behind their star signing and he will look to help the reigning champions maintain their six-point lead on second-placed Napoli, ahead of next week’s visit to Old Trafford where he became a star.
It was business as usual at training for Ronaldo who posted a photo of himself listening to coach Massimiliano Allegri’s instructions on social media on Thursday with the ‘thumb up’ emoji. Their rivals are Genoa, in 11th, but with Europe’s top scorer this season in Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek.
The 23-year-old Pole has scored nine goals in seven games for Genoa, who have a match in hand, compared to Ronaldo’s four. The young player, who arrived from Cracovia for four mn euros ($4.6mn) in the summer, was relishing coming up against the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Genoa also switched coaches during the break with Ivan Juric replacing Davide Ballardini. “Genoa have changed coach and they will want to make a good impression here in Turin,” said Juventus full-back Mattia De Sciglio. “Against the Rossoblu (Genoa) it’s always a tough game, and after the international break it’s even harder to start again.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli visit Udinese ahead of their trip Wednesday to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Inter Milan, third, two points adrift of Napoli, face city rivals AC Milan in the first derby of the season in the San Siro, before travelling to Barcelona three days later.
“It’s the game the city most looks forward to,” said Inter captain Mauro Icardi. “The goal for Inter remains to reduce the gap with Juventus and Napoli.”
Roma host SPAL looking to stretch their run to four league wins in a row before welcoming CSKA Moscow in the Stadio Olimpico, as city rivals Lazio, in fourth, travel to Parma. Meanwhile, ex-Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura returns to coaching bidding to guide tailenders Chievo to heir first win of the season.
It will be Ventura’s first match since being sacked last November after Italy failed to reach the World Cup finals. “I’m experiencing this new beginning with the enthusiasm of a child,” said Ventura, 70, who replaced Lorenzo D’Anna.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Today: AS Roma v SPAL (1300GMT), Juventus v Genoa (1600), Udinese v Napoli (1830)
Tomorrow: Frosinone v Empoli (1030GMT), Bologna v Torino (1300), Chievo v Atalanta, Parma v Lazio, Fiorentina v Cagliari (1600), Inter Milan v AC Milan (1830)
On Monday: Sampdoria v Sassuolo (1830GMT)
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