Maurizio Sarri lauded the "phenomenal skills" of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa after Serie A leaders Juventus defeated Genoa.

Stunning goals from Ronaldo, Dybala and Costa ensured titleholders Juve stayed four points clear of scudetto challengers Lazio thanks to Tuesday's 3-1 victory at struggling Genoa.

Dybala broke the deadlock with a fine individual effort in the 50th minute before Ronaldo made it 2-0 six minutes later via a thunderous long-range strike.

Juve substitute Costa then put the visitors out of sight with an equally impressive effort, while Andrea Pinamonti drilled in a 76th-minute consolation for Genoa.

"In the second half we lead thanks to our single players because we scored on three excellent plays by three single men," Juve head coach Sarri said.

"Paulo's [Dybala] great slalom, the outstanding Ronaldo's shoot, incredible for its precision and strength and the sensible touch from [Douglas Costa].

"This is how we solved the match, thanks to our individualities and phenomenal skills. We created the team's assumptions." 

Sarri and Juve were heavily criticised following the coronavirus break, which saw the Italian champions go back-to-back games without scoring, including in their Coppa Italia final defeat to Napoli.

Ronaldo was also scrutinised but Juve have now won three consecutive matches to be top of the table with nine fixtures remaining.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner equalled his tally from last season across all competitions with his 28th goal in 2019-20, while he has scored 14 goals in 2020 – more than any other Serie A player this year.

Sarri added: "After the lockdown I made an assessment: I said that something changed. Then everybody almost made fun of me because we lost the Coppa Italia on penalties.

"The truth is that once we improved our condition we started paying better this kind of football. This due to our condition that's getting better after the lockdown."

Juve are back in action against city rivals Torino on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala have learned to work together following their goalscoring displays, according to Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri.

Ronaldo and Dybala both scored stunning individual goals as defending champions Juve stayed four points clear atop the Serie A table with a 3-1 win at Genoa.

There have been doubts over whether Ronaldo and Dybala are compatible in Juve's starting XI, but the star duo starred on Tuesday.

Sarri hailed the pair post-match, telling Sky Sport Italia: "Something has changed in terms of movements, but they have learned to look for each other more often.

"They have realised that by benefitting from each other, both reap the rewards. It's something I have noticed in training too."

After a dominant first-half display failed to produce the goods, Dybala broke the deadlock in the 50th minute before Ronaldo made it 2-0 six minutes later with a thunderous long-range effort.

Juve substitute Douglas Costa then put the visitors out of sight with an equally impressive strike, while Andrea Pinamonti drilled in a 76th-minute consolation for Genoa.

Ronaldo equalled his tally from last season across all competitions with his 28th goal in 2019-20.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored 14 goals in 2020, more than any other Serie A player this year.

"In the first half he went for the shot five times, so it means he was doing more than he should," Sarri said. "Cristiano often plays to free himself to finish, but when he decides to move the ball quickly, he is the best of them all.

"Honestly, I was going to replace Dybala, then I chose Ronaldo, who has played many minutes. We discussed it over the last days, he knew that he would go off at 3-0 and he did it with serenity."

"I think the team did well, even in the first half. We had clear chances, without conceding any," Sarri said. "It was a good team effort and we scored three beautiful goals.

"The team have recovered well after the disappointment from the Coppa Italia, but it was only a matter of time before we were physically well."

Miralem Pjanic was in Juve's line-up after confirmation of his transfer to Barcelona at the end of the season, with Arthur moving in the opposite direction.

Pjanic played 74 minutes and Sarri added: "I haven't even talked to Miralem these days. I often did it after the suspension, after the lockdown, because he had these 20 to 25 days in poor shape.

"We asked ourselves the reason and we tried to find the solution. It was a drop in the mental condition more than anything else. I'm sure he will do well in this period. I find him happy and calm. I have no worries."

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a stunning goal as Juventus restored their four-point lead at the top of Serie A with a 3-1 victory over struggling Genoa.

Lazio's win over Torino had seen the gap at the top of Serie A closed to one point prior to kick-off at Stade Luigi Ferraris, but Maurizio Sarri's side ultimately made light work of their hosts.

After a dominant first-half display failed to produce the goods, Juve made the pressure count early in the second period – Paulo Dybala opening the scoring before Ronaldo picked out the top right-hand corner of the net in sensational fashion.

Substitute Douglas Costa then put the visitors out of sight with an equally impressive strike before Andrea Pinamonti drilled in a 76th-minute consolation for Genoa.

Juve wasted little time in getting on the front foot, with Mattia Perin, on loan from the Bianconeri, pulling off two smart stops in quick succession to deny Ronaldo.

Perin's strong display against his parent club continued before the break, Adrien Rabiot heading straight at him from close range before the goalkeeper made an outstanding stop from a Ronaldo strike.

Juve's breakthrough finally came five minutes after the break, though, Dybala twisting his way clear of several defenders before lashing in a shot which Perin could only help into the net.

With Genoa's resolve broken, Juve had their second six minutes later, Ronaldo hammering home his 24th Serie A goal of the season from 25 yards out.

Costa curled in an exquisite third shortly after coming on as a substitute to wrap up Juve's third successive league win since the restart, though Genoa had the final say when Pinamonti finished from a tight angle.

 

What does it mean? No slip-ups in the Scudetto race

The pressure is on Juve, with Lazio bouncing back from their 3-2 defeat to Atalanta by beating Torino. The Bianconeri seem to be going from strength to strength, however, with Ronaldo and Dybala in scintillating form.

Ronaldo and Dybala do the damage

Sarri has not always been able to accommodate his star strikers to get the best out of both of them, yet that certainly was not the case on Tuesday – Ronaldo looked sharp from the off, while Dybala displayed exceptional individual skill to craft the space for his opener.

Perin gives his parent club a helping hand

Having made nine league appearances for Juve last term, Perin was superb in the first half. Yet the 27-year-old will have been disappointed by his efforts for Dybala's opener as he got down to the strike only to fail to parry it wide.

Key Opta Facts

- Juventus have scored at least two goals in all their last six league games, their best run since February 2019.
- In 2020, Ronaldo has scored 14 goals, more than any other Serie A player.
- Dybala has scored in his last four Serie A games, his longest streak since September 2017.
- Ronaldo has equalled his number of goals of last season - 28 in all competitions.
- Pinamonti has scored in two games in a row for Genoa for the first time in Serie A.

What's next?

It is the Turin derby up next for Juve, who host Torino on Saturday, while 17th-place Genoa face Udinese a day later.

Bruno Fernandes will establish himself as a Manchester United great, according to former Portugal defender Abel Xavier.

Fernandes joined United from Sporting CP in January and had an immediate galvanising impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side

The 25-year-old has three goals and as many assists in seven Premier League appearances, with United unbeaten in 14 matches across all competitions and yet to taste defeat with Fernandes in their ranks.

Xavier told Stats Perform News his countryman can go on to be remembered alongside the likes of David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo by the Old Trafford faithful.

"My view of Bruno is that he is going to be one of the major players for Manchester United over the next years," he said.

"The way he plays, the way he controls the moments of the game... I think from what I know about the about the fans, they will love him for many years like they loved many legends from the past like Cristiano, David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, Eric Cantona, Paul Scholes – all these legendary players.

"Bruno I think will end up in this gallery of players."

One man whose standing has not been quite so lofty since returning to Old Trafford from Juventus in 2017 is Paul Pogba.

The France star's performances have been a frequent matter of debate, while injuries have decimated his 2019-20 campaign.

Pogba is back to full fitness now, however, and Xavier believes he and Fernandes can enjoy a fruitful midfield alliance.

"Pogba is compatible with him because Bruno Fernandes is a clever player," he said.

"He can adapt, he is flexible. I think he is a player who is very easy to manage for the coaches. Man United will be strong.

"We are not just talking about a great player but a player with a lot of personality.

"It is not easy to arrive to a different place like England, with a lot of history and a lot of comparisons in his position, and make a complete impact.

"He had a little profile. He was accepted, he made the difference. I think that Man United are building the team around him."

United face Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday in the Premier League, where they will aim for a victory to go level on point with Wolves and close to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a natural-born winner who has proven he does not like to be in the comfort zone throughout his glittering career, says former Portugal international Abel Xavier.

Since joining Manchester United as a prodigious teenager, Ronaldo has racked up the biggest collective and individual prizes in world football.

In six years with the Red Devils, Ronaldo won three Premier League trophies, two EFL Cups, an FA Cup and the Champions League in 2008.

That tradition of winning continued during nine prolific seasons with Real Madrid, during which time he became Los Blancos' all-time record goalscorer, won two LaLiga titles, two Copas del Rey and the Champions League on four occasions.

Ronaldo opted to depart Madrid for Juventus ahead of the 2018-19 campaign and lifted the Serie A trophy and Supercoppa Italiana during that debut term.

Another league title with Juve appears on the horizon, with the Bianconeri four points clear of Lazio with 10 games remaining.

Former Liverpool and Roma full-back Xavier says Ronaldo is fuelled by undertaking different challenges and would be successful wherever he plays.

"He's a winner and his mental focus is great," Xavier told Stats Perform News of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"You realise he does not like the comfort zone. He was in Madrid, he won; he was at Man United, he won; he's at Juventus and has also won things.

"Wherever he goes, he is going to win – individually and collectively.

"Of course, there is going to arrive a moment when he is not going to be able to produce the same style of football, but when you're looking to win – concerning the goalscoring positions – he is one of the best.

"Nowadays, the effort [for the team] is to try and put him in the right place to score. His qualities now are more a finisher, being in the right place to finish.

"For me, as a Portuguese, and for all people who love football, we admire him. He's a great player, a great athlete and a great team-mate in football."

Ronaldo is now 35 but Xavier sees no let-up in the hunger for glory and says helping Juve defend their title will be at the forefront of his season aims.

"I think that is his main goal. That is his main objective because he's a winner," Xavier added.

"I know him from my time as a player when he was a young player who started to be integrated into the national team environment.

"I believe he is still intact, he is still a very strong-minded, focused person. And he wants to win titles. He wants to win titles individually, he wants to win them collectively."

Earlier this season, which was disrupted for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ronaldo was reported to have fallen out with Juve boss Maurizio Sarri, rumours exacerbated by the head coach substituting his superstar in two straight games when Juve were not in front.

Xavier believes regardless of the personal relationship between the two they will always be brought together by the desire for success.

"They've been having a few problems recently. A moment arrives for a coach when it becomes hard because you need to manage egos, you need to be able to keep forming the players and putting in the correct identity for your style of play," Xavier said.

"The players need to accept that to be together.

"But, I don't know if the administration will make a decision on that, concerning the coach. But the leadership of the players is very important and they still have the chances and opportunities to win two important titles – Serie A and the Champions League.

"Whatever is happening with the coaching position, they have these two main objectives to be focused on."

Maurizio Sarri believes Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala can start against Genoa, but the Juventus coach is keen to avoid a "problem" going forward.

Juventus' busy run of fixtures continues against Genoa on Tuesday, before they host Torino four days later.

Ronaldo has played every minute of their four games since the coronavirus-enforced break, while Dybala has started each match.

Sarri said the pair were likely ready to start again, but he knows the star duo will need a rest at some stage.

"It's likely that they can start again [against Genoa]," he told a news conference.

"It's clear that if they play every game, in two or three matches we may have a problem, but I don't think there is any risk for them to suffer some sort of fatigue right now.

"In the long run though we need to have [Gonzalo] Higuain fit and able to play a large part of the game, this will become essential at some point."

With 10 games remaining in the Serie A season, Juventus hold a four-point lead atop the table.

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will improve the more he plays after the coronavirus-enforced break, according to head coach Maurizio Sarri.

Ronaldo converted a penalty as Serie A leaders Juve routed 10-man Lecce 4-0 in Turin on Friday – the defending champions opening a seven-point advantage over scudetto challengers Lazio.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner took his tally to 23 goals in Serie A this season, though Ronaldo has been in the headlines for his lack of form since the 2019-20 campaign restarted earlier this month following the COVID-19 crisis.

Asked about Ronaldo post-match, Sarri told reporters: "Cristiano now can play with a good fit. He needs to improve after the break and he is doing match after match.

"He needs to play a lot. In the future we will find the way to preserve him across matches or for some matches.

"He is great in listening to himself and he will realise when he will need to stop and rest. But now I think he fits quite well."

Juve overran Lecce following a goalless opening 45 minutes which saw Fabio Lucioni sent off, with Paulo Dybala, Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Matthijs de Ligt on target in the second half.

Ronaldo teed up Dybala to score a brilliant 53rd-minute opener before doubling the lead from the penalty spot nine minutes later.

Juve forward Ronaldo was again influential for substitute Higuain's strike in the 83rd minute, with De Ligt rounding off the rout five minutes from the end.

Amid doubts and criticism over Higuain, Sarri said: "For us he is very important. He is powerful, one of the strongest centre forward in the world right now. He can be decisive for us at the end of the season."

Juve – top of the table through 28 matches – travel to relegation-threatened Genoa on Tuesday.

Maurizio Sarri admits he does not know if Miralem Pjanic will remain at Juventus beyond the end of the season but is not overly concerned by reports over the midfielder's future.

Pjanic played 90 minutes as the Bianconeri overran 10-man Lecce 4-0 in Friday's Serie A contest to open up a seven-point lead over scudetto challengers Lazio.

The future of Pjanic has been the topic of much debate amid reports he is headed to Barcelona in a swap deal that will see Arthur move to Turin.

Sarri spoke before the game to say he has had no update on such a deal and continued to follow a similar party line when speaking to Sky Sport Italy following the win.

"I don't know if Pjanic will no longer play with Juventus , I have not received any communication," he Juve head coach said. 

"These are not things that interest us, the market only starts in September. Miralem's a professional, he understands situations quickly. 

"I don't know anything at the moment, but I'm not worried."

Sarri added: "He'll be with us until the end of August. I hope he'll stay with us even beyond that, but these are decisions that will be made at a later stage."

Juve were slow off the mark against Lecce and the game remained 0-0 until half-time despite a straight red card for Fabio Lucioni.

But the floodgates opened in the second half, Cristiano Ronaldo teeing up Paulo Dybala to score a brilliant opener before doubling the lead from the penalty spot.

Ronaldo was again influential for Gonzalo Higuain's strike, with Matthijs de Ligt rounding off the rout.

Sarri was particularly happy for Higuain given how the coronavirus crisis has affected the Argentine striker, an issue he had spoken about pre-game.

"He had a difficult time on a personal and global level, because the coronavirus emergency hit him a lot and left a mark on him," Sarri added. 

"He has returned, had a minor injury and is now getting back into shape. I am happy that he scored immediately, he is a player who will give us a lot in this season finale."

Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain helped Juventus move seven points clear at the top of Serie A with a resounding 4-0 win over 10-man Lecce at the Allianz Stadium.

Fabio Lucioni's first-half dismissal left lowly Lecce, who had started brightly, facing a daunting task yet it needed a moment of brilliance from Dybala to open the scoring after 53 minutes.

Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi were guilty of woeful misses in the opening period but the former lashed home his 23rd Serie A goal of the campaign from the penalty spot before excellently setting up Higuain.

Matthijs de Ligt added a fourth that was harsh on Lecce as Maurizio Sarri's men stretched their lead on Lazio, beaten 3-2 by Atalanta last time out, albeit their rivals have a game in hand.

Andrea Rispoli flashed wide on the half-volley as Juve were carved open after four minutes.

Gabriel parried Adrien Rabiot's long-range shot and Ronaldo drilled wide of the right post as Juventus came to life and soon found themselves a man up.

Rodrigo Bentancur caught Lucioni in possession 40 yards from goal and the centre-back chopped down his opponent to earn the straight red.

Ronaldo incredibly put a close-range header from Dybala's corner over the top when unmarked then teed up Bernardeschi, who missed an even bigger sitter when blazing high from inside the six-yard box.

Gabriel was in action again to keep out Leonardo Bonucci's header just after the restart but was powerless to stop Dybala opening the scoring.

Evgen Shakhov's careless pass was picked up by Ronaldo, who teed up the Argentina forward to curl a sumptuous left-foot effort into the top-right corner from the edge of the area. 

It was game over just after the hour when Ronaldo lashed home the penalty he won after being tripped by Luca Rossettini.

The Portugal superstar would have had another had Gabriel not kept out his point-blank header but his ingenious backheel after a fine run deflected into the path of Higuain, who drilled home the third.

De Ligt then nodded in Douglas Costa's corner as Juve ultimately ran out comfortable winners.

Cristiano Ronaldo's impact at Real Madrid was truly phenomenal – there's certainly an argument for him being the greatest signing in the history of the sport.

But when his move from Manchester United to the Santiago Bernabeu was completed on June 26, 2009, there was certainly more than a hint of scepticism.

Let's not forget, when Madrid paid a reported €94million (£80m) for him, Ronaldo became the most expensive footballer ever at the time, breaking a record that had stood for eight years.

There were plenty of people suggesting Madrid had paid over the odds for him, but now we all know what a remarkable signing he was for Los Blancos and Spanish football until his departure for Juventus in 2018.

On the 11th anniversary of Ronaldo joining Madrid, we look back on his time with the club and his legacy, with a little help from Opta.

The early years – finding another level

Ronaldo had already won the Ballon d'Or during his time at Old Trafford, so his quality was never in doubt, but a haul of 33 goals across all competitions in his first season with Los Blancos was an impressive start, particularly given it was an increase of eight on his final campaign in England.

But it was just the tip of the iceberg. As it would turn out, 2009-10 was the only one of Ronaldo's nine seasons with Madrid in which he failed to reach the 40-goal mark.

Granted, the Portugal star played significantly more games over the next few years, but to maintain that consistency – and arguably improve on it – over 50-plus matches without suffering fatigue is genuinely remarkable.

In 2010-11 Ronaldo claimed his first trophy for the club – the Copa del Rey – and had a hand in 69 goals (53 scored, 16 assisted) in 54 matches. He then improved on that further the next year, his 60 goals and 15 assists helping Madrid to their first LaLiga title in four years and the Champions League semi-finals.

By 2012, Ronaldo was already finding himself mentioned in debates regarding the "greatest player of all time" – that would only intensify in the coming years.

Sustaining greatness

The Champions League has long been an obsession of Real Madrid's, and so too it became a major goal of Ronaldo's – after all, three successive last-four eliminations meant five full seasons passed without the forward lifting the famous trophy.

For Madrid, the barren run had been even longer. They'd been chasing 'La Decima' since 2002, but finally, in 2013-14, the wait was over – Ronaldo's 65 goal involvements (51 goals, 14 assists) leading them to a European and Copa del Rey double. His late penalty in the 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid that saw them crowned Champions League kings took his tally to 17 goals for the season in that competition, a record.

Three more Champions League titles followed over the next four years, though 2014-15 – when Ronaldo enjoyed the best individual season of his career with 61 goals and 21 assists – was the anomaly. He would only score in one of those three finales, however, the 4-1 over future employers Juventus, though he did net the decisive shoot-out spot-kick a year to again break Atletico hearts in 2016.

Ronaldo's final two years in Madrid saw the club win a total of eight trophies, while he scored 86 times and moved level for a while on five Ballon d'Or wins with Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo became synonymous with the Real Madrid brand – it became difficult to imagine the two without each other, but in 2018 they parted ways, ending one of the most iconic player-club associations in modern football.

The legacy

Across his nine years with Madrid, Ronaldo scored 450 goals and laid on another 119. The former figure makes him the club's all-time leading scorer.

He surpassed Raul (323) in October 2015, having already cruised past the like of Ferenc Puskas, Carlos Santillana and Alfredo Di Stefano.

Of those goals, 311 came in LaLiga, a figure only Messi (440) can better – though the Argentina star has spent his entire career in Spanish football.

While all defenders are likely to have been glad to see Ronaldo leave LaLiga, he had a particular penchant for netting against a select few teams. Barcelona (18), Celta Vigo (20), Atletico Madrid (22), Getafe (23) and Sevilla (27) were his most frequent victims.

But it wasn't just LaLiga opposition against whom he thrived – he was the first player to score 10 Champions League goals in seven successive seasons and to reach a haul of 100 in the competition for a single club.

At the age of 35, he continues to excel for Juve in Serie A. But it was with Madrid where his impact was most felt, and it will be a long time before the club see anything even remotely comparable again, if they ever do.

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo overtook Rui Costa to become the leading Portuguese scorer in Serie A history on Monday.

Ronaldo slotted a first-half penalty down the middle in Juve's 2-0 win over Bologna, a result that saw the Bianconeri move four points clear at the top of the table.

The goal was Ronaldo's 22nd in Serie A this season, one more than the 21 he managed in his debut campaign in Turin following his move from Real Madrid in 2018.

In reaching 43 goals, the 35-year-old also moved beyond Rui Costa as the Portuguese player with the most goals in Italy's top flight.

Rui Costa spent eight years in Serie A, playing for Fiorentina and then Milan between 1994 and 2006.

Former Manchester United star Ronaldo remains the top Portuguese scorer in Premier League history having scored 84 times in 196 appearances.

He is the also the leading Portuguese scorer in LaLiga history having registered 311 goals in 292 appearances for Real Madrid, where he is the all-time leading scorer.

Only Ronaldo's great personal rival Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has scored more LaLiga goals.

Cristiano Ronaldo was on target as Juventus marked their return to Serie A action with a 2-0 win over Bologna at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on Monday.

Maurizio Sarri's side shrugged off the disappointment of their Coppa Italia final defeat to Napoli last week, Ronaldo setting them on their way from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute in their first top-flight game since March 8.

Dybala added a superb second before half-time, whipping into the top corner from outside the penalty area, while Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi came close to adding further goals after the interval before Danilo was sent off in stoppage time.

The result moves the reigning champions four points clear of Lazio at the Serie A summit, although Simone Inzaghi's side will have the chance to cut the gap back to one point when they travel to Atalanta on Wednesday.

Juve started on the front foot, with Ronaldo forcing Lukasz Skorupski into a smart stop inside the opening 10 minutes.

The forward got the better of the Bologna goalkeeper midway through the opening period, though, slotting down the middle from the penalty spot after a VAR review deemed that Stefano Denswil pulled Matthijs de Ligt's shirt from a corner.

The visitors doubled their advantage in sumptuous style nine minutes before the break, Dybala sweeping into the top corner from 20 yards after a superb backheeled flick by Bernardeschi.

Ronaldo prodded wide shortly after the restart when clean through, while Bernardeschi crashed a 20-yard effort against the post moments later.

Juve were content to play out the second half at a pedestrian pace, though a Ronaldo effort fizzed past the post.

Ronaldo then saw a late strike ruled out for offside, while substitute Danilo received his marching orders in stoppage time after picking up a second booking for a foul on Musa Juwara.

 

What does it mean? Bianconeri back to their best

Juve had failed to score in both of their Coppa Italia matches since returning to action following the lengthy absence caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

They were back to their ruthless best against Sinisa Mihajlovic's side, however, putting the game to bed by half-time thanks to Ronaldo and a sublime strike from Dybala.

Dybala too hot to handle

The Argentina international was a handful for the Bologna defence throughout, bamboozling them with incisive movement and an array of smart touches. His eighth league goal of the season was one to savour.

Bologna rue Denswil's lapse

The hosts' hard work keeping Juve at bay was undone by a moment of madness from Denswil. His tug on De Ligt's shirt was unnecessary and proved costly when Ronaldo put away the penalty.

What's next?

Sarri's side host struggling Lecce on Friday, while Bologna travel to Sampdoria on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Maurizio Sarri have held discussions over the Juventus forward's lack of form since Italian football resumed. 

Former Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo has scored 25 goals across all competitions for reigning Serie A champions Juve this season, but he has looked off the pace of late. 

Sarri has every confidence Ronaldo will be back to his world-beating best before too long, and the Juventus head coach revealed he and the five-time Ballon d'Or winner spent time together in private to reflect on the situation. 

"Yesterday I talked to Cristiano, alone and for a long time," Sarri said on Sunday. 

"He must not lose confidence, I hope that tomorrow the all-time fantastic player will return. You just have to go through a physical moment where you can't necessarily be the best." 

Juventus travel to face Bologna in Serie A on Monday, having already suffered disappointment since the resumption that followed the coronavirus suspension of all football in Italy. 

Losing the Coppa Italia final to Napoli on Wednesday, albeit on penalties, came as a major blow to a Juventus side who have become accustomed to success. 

Sarri was asked whether using Ronaldo as a centre forward might help Juventus, but he says it is the Portuguese's preference to play in a different role. 

"We talked about it before the Coppa Italia matches. He has scored 700 goals starting slightly off the centre and clearly his preference is that," Sarri said. 

"In the final it was decided with the lads that we'd play [Paulo] Dybala more centrally." 

Before that goalless Coppa Italia final, Juventus drew 0-0 at home against Milan to reach the showpiece on away goals, with the first match having taken place in February. 

It means they have yet to score in two games since returning to action after a three-month absence from the pitch. 

By their high standards, that represents a goal drought. 

"We will have to improve the quality of the game," Sarri said. "The scoring problem will improve as a natural consequence." 

Juventus appear unlikely to have Gonzalo Higuain available for the Bologna game, with Sarri saying the forward has a minor problem relating to an old issue that "must be healed completely" before he plays again. 

"I don't know if the doctor will make him available, but I don't think so," Sarri said. 

Sergio Ramos should be given a new contract by Real Madrid so he can finish his career at the club, according to Predrag Mijatovic.

The defender's deal runs until the end of the 2020-21 season, by which time he will be 35.

Madrid have in the recent past allowed other legendary names to leave at the tail end of their playing days, including Ramos' former team-mates Raul and Iker Casillas, who moved on to Schalke and Porto respectively.

However, Mijatovic is adamant the Spain international must be retained despite his advancing years, giving him the chance to teach future generations about life with Los Blancos.

"We cannot afford to let our players help other teams, because they should be ours," the former Madrid forward told Stats Perform News. "I would like to have this policy back.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't happen at Real Madrid. Raul had great history at Real Madrid and left in a bad way, Fernando Hierro the same, Casillas too.

"Now they are talking about Sergio Ramos [doing the same]. His contract has to be extended, two or three years, it doesn't matter. This guy has to finish his career at Real Madrid.

"He is important, almost a treasure of the club. Both for what he has done already and what he can do In the future, maybe not on the field, but teaching the young players who join Real Madrid on how to play, behave and adapt to the club. That's what it has to happen."

Madrid also let Cristiano Ronaldo depart the Santiago Bernabeu for Juventus in 2018, while there has also been speculation Luka Modric – who turns 35 in September – could move on.

Both players were pivotal in helping win the Champions League for three successive years during Zinedine Zidane's first spell in charge.

"If I had been at the club, I wouldn't let players like Cristiano, Sergio Ramos or Luka Modric leave," Mijatovic continued. 

"They are players that despite losing maybe a bit of fitness as the years go on, they are always very positive for the upcoming players.

"Let's imagine a young striker who comes in and learns from Cristiano, giving him advice. Or a young centre-back speaking with Sergio Ramos – who could teach him better than Sergio Ramos on how he has to behave?

"Football is not just about having great players and then dropping them when you no longer need them. There are some players ...Italians do this perfectly. There are players like [Franco] Baresi, [Paolo] Maldini, and these big players who are a great asset to the club."

Serie A resumes on Saturday, making it the latest major European League to return to action. 

The coronavirus pandemic forced most global sport to shut down in March, but the Bundesliga, LaLiga and Premier League have all recommenced their 2019-20 campaigns – albeit behind closed doors. 

Football has already returned in Italy, however, with Napoli edging out Juventus to lift the Coppa Italia trophy on Wednesday. 

But the top tier makes its comeback with a double-header of Torino v Parma and Hellas Verona v Cagliari on Saturday, with everything from relegation to the title still to be decided. 

As we look forward to the season's resumption, we glance back at the best Opta stats from Italy's top-flight campaign so far. 

JUVENTUS

- Juve have been trailing for 133 minutes in 2019-20, less time than any other team in Serie A this season.

- At home, Juve are unbeaten in their previous 34 league games (W29, D5), more than double the next best streak (Lazio at 15).

- This term, Cristiano Ronaldo equalled the record of 11 consecutive goalscoring appearances in a single Serie A season. He has also already levelled his haul of goals from 2018-19 despite making nine fewer appearances, averaging 0.95 goals per game compared to 0.68 last season.

- Among the players who made their debut in the three-points-for-a-win era, Ronaldo was the fastest to reach 42 goals (52 appearances) – before him the record was 58 games played (Vincenzo Montella, Andriy Shevchenko and Brazil great Ronaldo).

LAZIO

- Lazio are unbeaten in their previous 21 league games (W17 D4), already an all-time Serie A record for the club. Six of the seven previous teams with streaks as long as that in a single season went on to win the Scudetto (the only exception was Roma in 2009-10).

- Ciro Immobile has 27 goals in 26 games in 2019-20. Only Antonio Valentin Angelillo (29) in has managed more after 26 matchdays.

INTER

- Antonio Conte is the first Inter coach to see his team score in each of his first 19 games in all competitions.

- Inter have won nine of their 13 Serie A away games this season (D2 L2): only in the 2006-07 campaign have the Nerazzurri won more (11).

- Romelu Lukaku is one of three players to have scored at least 17 Serie A goals in their first 25 games of a debut season with Inter, emulating Giuseppe Meazza (1929-30) and Stefano Nyers (1948-49).

ATALANTA

- Atalanta's 70 goals in this Serie A campaign already represents their second-best haul in a single season (77 in 2018-19).

- No team has scored as many as 70 goals in the first 25 matches of a single Serie A season since 1959, when Fiorentina netted 79.

- Three Atalanta players are into double figures in terms of goals this season: Josip Ilicic, Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata. Only in 1949-50 and 1951-52 have the club had as many players reach 10 goals.

MILAN

- Since Stefano Pioli joined Milan, they have kept the most clean sheets in Serie A (seven).

- Since his first spell at Milan (which began in August 2010), Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 60 goals for the Rossoneri in all competitions, more than any other player with the club in the period.

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