Cyprus Mail
Champions League

Chiellini out, Ronaldo back in for Juventus clash with Ajax

Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo during training

Giorgio Chiellini will miss Juventus’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Ajax due to a calf injury.

The defender suffered the problem in his side’s last training session before travelling to Amsterdam for the first leg.

The result is that Chiellini will be out of Wednesday’s clash as the club will have to replace one of its most experienced players.

Chiellini has started 21 Serie A matches for the club while also making six further appearances for Juventus in the Champions League this season.

Daniele Rugani is the most likely replacement for the Italy international as both Martin Caceres and Andrea Barzagli are currently dealing with injury issues of their own.

Emre Can and Douglas Costa are also seen as doubtful for the Serie A leaders while Cristiano Ronaldo could make his return to action having missed the last three matches through injury.

Ronaldo suffered an injury while on international duty as the Portugal international pulled up with an issue in his country’s clash with Serbia in Euro 2020 qualifying.

The Portuguese was absent for games against Empoli, Cagliari and Milan due to the issue, while he was rested for the 2-0 loss to Genoa.
Juve are confident he will be ready to play, however, with his magnificent hat-trick against Atletico Madrid helping his side through to the last eight.

The Serie A leaders currently maintain a 20-point advantage at the top of the table and are just one point away from clinching another league title, the club’s eighth in a row.

Following the first leg of the Ajax tie, Juventus will return to Serie A against SPAL on Saturday before playing host to the Dutch side in the second leg of their Champions League encounter with a semi-final berth on the line.

Should they fail to secure at least a draw against SPAL, they will still win the title if Napoli don’t beat Chievo on Sunday.

Meanwhile, fomer Ajax great Jari Litmanen said he sees a lot of potential in the squad that will face the Italian champions.

“I see the very same signs [with Ajax] as the early 90s and mid-90s and also the early 2000s. There are talented young players in the team, a few more experienced players,” he told UEFA in an interview.

“The last two years have been very good. A good example is the Europa League final two years ago, when Ajax played Manchester United. That season, in fact, was a step forward internationally and there were signs that a new rise could be ahead.”

Midfielder Frenkie De Jong has also spoken about the pcoming clash: “It has been great for us so far. We played three preliminary rounds of course. We won them all, and that was also our goal.

“Then we got to the group stage, in which we showed what we are made of. We made it to the quarter-finals, and the highlight of it all was doing that by eliminating Real Madrid.

“We really showed everyone what we can do, and hopefully we can show that again against Juventus.”

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