Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has earned a share of more history… or, at least, he might have.

It may sound cryptic but Ronaldo's latest remarkable goalscoring feat is sure to be a bone of contention.

The 35-year-old's effort in the 2-0 Supercoppa Italiana win over Napoli means he is now on 760 professional goals during his illustrious career.

That tally in some quarters matches the number accumulated by Josef Bican, who played internationally for Austria and Czechoslovakia between 1933 and 1949.

However, there are those – including FIFA's official website – who credit Rapid Vienna and Slavia Prague legend Bican with scoring 805 goals in 530 matches, an astonishing 1.52 goals per game (FIFA also clarifies 805 is an 'estimated' number).

The discrepancy appears to centre around the fact that some historians include Bican's efforts for Rapid's second team, while others do not.

What is not up for dispute is the remarkable feats of either player and Ronaldo continues to reach new benchmarks as he approaches his 36th birthday.

Of his 760 goals, 311 were scored in LaLiga, while he has 134 in the Champions League and 84 in the Premier League.

Additionally, Ronaldo has a sensational 102 goals for Portugal and his 450 during nine years with Real Madrid is a Los Blancos record.

No club has been on the receiving end of Ronaldo's brilliance more than Sevilla, who have conceded 27 times to the former Manchester United star, with Atletico Madrid second on 25.

The most prolific season of Ronaldo's career was 2011-12 when he scored 69 times, the same amount he achieved in the calendar year of 2013.

Ronaldo has scored three goals in a game 46 times, while one on eight occasions he has celebrated four and twice five in a single game, and there are 57 direct free-kicks and 133 penalties to his name.

Cristiano Ronaldo's 760th goal in professional football helped deliver Supercoppa Italiana glory for Juventus as they beat Napoli 2-0 after Lorenzo Insigne's penalty miss.

Having seen their aspirations of again retaining the Serie A title dealt a blow by a 2-0 loss to rivals Inter, Juve could have been considered vulnerable to a Napoli side coming off a 6-0 thumping of Fiorentina.

But Andrea Pirlo's men grew into the game in the second half and Ronaldo rewarded their efforts with what proved to be the decisive goal in the 64th minute.

Pirlo's first title as Juve head coach came with a dramatic conclusion, however, Insigne incredibly chipping wide from the spot after Weston McKinnie had felled Dries Mertens before Napoli were caught cold on an injury-time counter and Alvaro Morata's simple finish sealed the Bianconeri's ninth Supercoppa crown.

An open but low-key first half was light on chances until Wojciech Szczesny had to produce a reaction to keep out Hirving Lozano's diving header from Diego Demme's cross in the 28th minute.

Ronaldo went close with a dipping effort from the left side of the box that narrowly cleared the crossbar 12 minutes later and it was Juve who started the second half brighter.

Davide Ospina had to be alert to prevent Federico Bernardeschi from scoring within a minute of his half-time introduction after good work from McKinnie.

Ronaldo then prodded narrowly wide after getting ahead of a throughball from Arthur, but he made no mistake when Bernardeschi's corner deflected into his path, lashing home from point-blank range.

Insigne had a golden chance to erase the deficit 10 minutes from time after Paolo Valeri pointed to the spot following a VAR review. He sent Szczesny the wrong way but shot woefully wide of the left-hand post.

The excellent Szczesny produced a fine 94th-minute save with his legs to deny Insigne and glory for the Bianconeri was sealed as Cuadrado broke free soon after and laid the pass on for Morata to stroke home.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are three of the superstars who have been voted into UEFA's Men's Team of the Year by fans, with Virgil van Dijk also included despite missing a chunk of 2020 through injury.

Fans had from November 30 to January 6 to cast their votes, and a host of predictable names made the cut, though Champions League winners Bayern Munich dominate.

There are five players from Bayern's treble-winning 2019-20 in the team, including Robert Lewandowski – winner of The Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year award – and Thiago Alcantara, who has since joined Liverpool.

The other Reds player in the side is Van Dijk even though the Dutch centre-back has only played five Premier League games this season due to a serious knee injury.

However, earlier in the year he inspired Liverpool to their first league title since 1990.

Ronaldo was named in the side for a 15th time after helping Juventus to another Scudetto.

Messi earned his 12th inclusion despite failing to help Barcelona to LaLiga success in what was a largely difficult year for the Blaugrana and their captain.

UEFA confirmed the final selection for the women's team as well, with six players from Lyon's Women's Champions League-winning squad in the side.

 

Men's Team of the Year:

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany); Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich and Germany), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid and Spain), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool and Netherlands), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich and Canada); Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich/Liverpool and Spain), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium); Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus and Portugal), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil).

Women's Team of the Year:

Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon and France); Lucy Bronze (Lyon/Manchester City and England), Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon and Canada), Wendie Renard (Lyon and France), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea and Sweden); Kheira Hamraoui (Barcelona and France), Amandine Henry (Lyon and France), Delphine Cascarino (Lyon and France), Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir (Wolfsburg/Lyon and Iceland); Danielle van de Donk (Arsenal and Netherlands), Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg/Chelsea and Denmark).

Andrea Pirlo is not about to call time on Juventus' Serie A defence despite fuming at the way they ceded control to Inter in a damaging defeat on Sunday.

Juve are now seven points behind leaders Milan and Inter, and could fall 10 points off the pace if the Rossoneri win on Monday.

The Bianconeri lost 2-0 at Inter, who led through Arturo Vidal's header – one of 11 first-half efforts to Juve's three – and netted again seven minutes after the break as Nicolo Barella ran clear.

The midfield duo were outstanding, with ex-Juve man Vidal gaining possession nine times as well as having four shots, while Barella created the opener for his team-mate and had three key passes, playing a team-high 41 passes in the opposition half.

The Inter pair set a tempo that Juve, coach Pirlo acknowledged, simply did not match.

"We got the attitude wrong from the beginning," Pirlo told Sky Sport.

"When you don't have the anger and determination to try to win duels in these matches, it becomes difficult. We were too passive.

"It's a bad defeat; we didn't expect it. We couldn't have had a worse match than this one, but now we have to raise our heads because we will play a final on Wednesday [the Supercoppa Italiana against Napoli]."

The broadcaster suggested this was the angriest rookie coach Pirlo had been since his appointment, to which he replied: "Yes, because in these matches, you have to have the same desire and the same anger as the opposition in order to be on the same level.

"Then the qualities of the individuals can make the difference."

Despite his frustration at his players in Juve's first Serie A defeat to Inter in eight matches, Pirlo also accepted responsibility.

"The coach is always wrong first of all because it is he who gives the directions," he said.

"So I take my responsibility, because if the team did not do what we wanted, it means that they did not understand what we had to do."

Pirlo was a Juve substitute when Vidal's previous Serie A goal in 2015 clinched the Bianconeri's fourth straight title.

A further five consecutive championships have followed, but a 10th in a row looks tough now, even if Pirlo is not willing to give up hope.

"Our ambitions remain the same," he insisted. "It's a misstep against an important team, but in a long journey there happen to be these missteps."

Inter proved they have what it takes to maintain a serious title challenge this season by defeating reigning champions Juventus 2-0, according to Arturo Vidal.

Vidal opened the scoring against his former club at San Siro on Sunday, heading home a cross from Nicolo Barella to find the net in Serie A for the first time since his goal clinched the Scudetto for Juve in May 2015.

He became the first ex-Juve player to score for Inter in the Derby d'Italia since Christian Vieri in 2004 and the eighth player to score for both sides in the fixture.

Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku missed opportunities to add to Inter's tally but Barella made no mistake with an emphatic finish in the 52nd minute.

The Nerazzurri consequently claimed their first league win against Juve since September 2016 and their first with a clean sheet since April 2010.

Antonio Conte's side moved level with Serie A leaders Milan on 40 points and opened up a seven-point advantage over the reigning champions.

Milan can restore their three-point cushion by beating Cagliari in their game in hand on Inter on Monday, but Vidal does not think Conte's men are going to fall away.

"It's important for me and for the team. It was a very difficult game against the best team in Italy," Vidal told Sky Sport Italia.

"I am glad to have scored my first goal for Inter, very happy. I think we proved that we are up to the task of fighting for the Scudetto.

"This gives us the confidence to keep pushing, to believe we can win the Scudetto, as we beat the strongest team over the past nine years. We believe that we can go all the way."

Ahead of kick-off, Vidal was seen kissing the Juve badge on Giorgio Chiellini's training top while the pair shared a hug. He then celebrated his goal in a muted fashion.

Conte led Juve to three straight Serie A titles to start their ongoing period of dominance and finally got his first league victory over them at the fourth attempt.

Despite Inter coming out on top and Juve being seven points adrift, Conte still believes the Bianconeri are the team to beat in the race for the title.

"In order to beat a team like Juventus, which for all the Italian clubs are the reference point, we have to put in a great performance. We did that," said Conte.

"We prepared well and it's satisfying to see that we were right about the things we thought could hurt Juventus. The lads followed the plan perfectly and I am very happy for them because these are games that must give you self-belief, let you understand you are on the right path.

"We already saw the fruits of this process last season and we are continuing to see them this term. Juventus were an important reference point, a side that dominated Serie A for nine years, having done exceptional work both on the field and as a club.

"I still maintain Juve have a gap not just from Inter, but all the other clubs, but we are working to close the gap."

In what appeared to be a dig at his club, Conte added: "If people think we are the favourites now, imagine if we'd been able to work in the transfer market in August. We'd be massive favourites!"

If Juventus are "a benchmark" and "a reference point", as Antonio Conte suggested pre-match, the Inter head coach can now feel much more positive about his side's Scudetto hopes after a superb 2-0 win.

Conte, formerly the main man in Turin, had good reason to be pessimistic even as the Nerazzurri entered the Derby d'Italia four points ahead of the champions.

Juve were the only Serie A opponents against whom Conte possessed an 100 per cent losing record, beaten in each of his prior three matches against his former club.

And Inter's misery in this fixture extended beyond the start of Conte's reign, going seven without a win as Juve used meetings with the Nerazzurri to consolidate their domestic dominance.

Indeed, there was little reason heading into this match to doubt Juve's credentials, with Andrea Pirlo's side seemingly building up a head of steam in his rookie season.

The Bianconeri had followed up a shock December defeat at home to Fiorentina with four straight successes in all competitions, scoring 13 times in the process.

Among those victories was a deserved triumph at league leaders Milan. Juve had not won at both Milan and Inter in the first half of a Serie A season in 80 years; they now had the opportunity to do so in consecutive away games.

But preparations were not ideal. Cristiano Ronaldo, like opposite number Romelu Lukaku, had not been able to enjoy the week of rest he had set aside, instead called from the bench in a midweek Coppa Italia tie and forced to see out extra time.

Ronaldo played on the fringes at San Siro, his most notable involvement an 11th-minute tap-in ruled out for offside, with the clash between two of Serie A's foremost scorers not panning out as many would have imagined.

Lukaku was as influential as ever in the Inter attack, running Giorgio Chiellini ragged as he contested 15 duels, winning nine, earned three fouls and conceded two, and created three chances.

There was no goal for the forward, though, as the game was decided in the midfield, where Inter were even more impressive, setting the tone right from the outset.

Marcelo Brozovic anchored the side, Nicolo Barella buzzed all over the pitch, and Arturo Vidal - the subject of a clip on social media that appeared to show him kissing the badge of former club Juve pre-match - made clear where his loyalties now lie.

Conte had failed to offer an explanation for some slow starts so far this season but certainly had no need to worry about that issue on this occasion. By half-time, Inter's only concern could have been their failure to add to a lead secured by Vidal.

The midfielder, whose previous Serie A goal back in 2015 had won Juve the title, spread the ball wide to Barella moments after Ronaldo's disallowed goal and then ran onto the subsequent cross, towering over Danilo to nod beyond Wojciech Szczesny and offer a muted celebration.

That was one of 11 first-half Inter efforts, their joint-high this season. Juve mustered just three before the break, a joint-low for them.

But this unpredictable Inter side had led 4-1 and trailed 2-0 respectively on the previous two occasions they had attempted 11 shots in the opening 45 minutes this term.

Juan Sebastian Veron, a former Inter star, told Stats Perform News prior to this game the Nerazzurri would "need to be decisive". Despite the opener, they were anything but.

Vidal's wait for his next Serie A strike should have lasted only three minutes, but he blazed over. Then so too did Lautaro Martinez after Szczesny saved from Lukaku.

Martinez shot wide and Szczesny again denied Lukaku, before scrambling to retrieve Barella's deflected drive. A one-goal first-half deficit felt like an escape for Juve.

But if the Bianconeri were going to make their hosts pay, a swifter start to the second period would have to follow.

Instead, Inter scored with their very first shot after the break and finally the game was beyond Juve. A slipping Alessandro Bastoni's low, long pass somehow tore a gaping hole through the visiting defence and Barella, a deserving scorer, held off Chiellini and Gianluca Frabotta to finish high into the net.

Rather than call on Weston McKennie and Dejan Kulusevski to build on an advantage, as against Milan, Pirlo turned to the pair in a desperate, failed rescue bid.

Juve still had 32 minutes to forge a response after reinforcements arrived, but one strong Samir Handanovic save from Federico Chiesa was all they had to show for a period of pressure.

Inter could have added further goals on the counter yet will worry not. Indecisive, perhaps, Conte's side ended the weekend level on points with Milan. It is now for Pirlo and Juve, seven points back, to rise to this benchmark.

Inter dealt a blow to Juventus' Serie A title defence and moved level on points with leaders Milan by securing a 2-0 victory at San Siro on Sunday.

Former Juve midfielder Arturo Vidal opened his Inter account with a 12th-minute header and Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku wasted chances to increase the Nerazzurri's lead.

The Bianconeri were unable to make the most of those reprieves as an emphatic finish at the end of a route-one move saw Nicolo Barella double Inter's advantage.

It was enough to give Antonio Conte a first Serie A win against Juve – the club he led to three straight Scudetti at the start of their ongoing run of dominance – and move the hosts level with Milan, who play their game in hand against Cagliari on Monday.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal correctly ruled out for offside but there was no doubt about Vidal's opener a minute later, as the Chile international rose above Danilo to nod Barella's delivery into the left corner.

Martinez should have doubled Inter's lead in the 23rd minute when he blazed over with the goal gaping after Wojciech Szczesny parried Lukaku's shot straight to him.

Striker Martinez again failed to hit the target with his next opening, while Lukaku placed an effort from Barella's cutback too close to Szczesny before half-time.

Inter finally had a second goal in the 52nd minute, Barella surging into a huge gap in the Juve defence and firing Alessandro Bastoni's ambitious pass into the roof of the net.

Andrea Pirlo responded by sending on Dejan Kulusevski, Federico Bernardeschi and Weston McKennie but Federico Chiesa had their best effort in the 87th minute.

Samir Handanovic kept out Chiesa's powerful drive with a superb reaction as Inter held on for an important victory.

What does it mean? Juve with ground to make up

Juve would have closed to within a point of Inter if they triumphed at San Siro, and they would have still had a game in hand on Conte's men and Milan.

However, they missed their chance to make up ground and are now seven points adrift of Inter.

They will find themselves 10 points off the top if Milan win on Monday, meaning winning their game in hand would still not put them firmly in the title picture.

Brilliant Barella

Italy international Barella put in a livewire performance against the reigning champions, creating a game-high three chances – including the assist for Vidal's goal – and producing an emphatic finish early in the second half. After managing one goal and four assists in Serie A last season, he has already scored twice and set up five more in the league in 2020-21.

Vidal sparks controversy

Pre-game footage showed Vidal embracing Giorgio Chiellini and kissing the Juve badge on his warm-up top. He may have followed it up by scoring his first Serie A goal since clinching the title for Juve in May 2015, but his muted celebrations led to much discussion about where his loyalties lie.

What's next?

Juve face Napoli in the Supercoppa Italiana on Wednesday, while Inter travel to Udinese in Serie A on Saturday.

Juan Sebastian Veron always doubts whether Inter can win a game and thinks they need to be more clinical like Juventus, who he never feels will lose.

Inter will leapfrog local rivals Milan and go top of Serie A on Sunday if they defeat Juve in a league game for the first time since September 2016, having drawn two and lost five of their past seven matches.

Andrea Pirlo's side sit four points behind the Nerazzurri but possess a game in hand, so following up their victory over Milan in their previous away league game would put them firmly back in the title race.

However, they have not beaten both Inter and Milan away from home in the first half of a Serie A season since 1930-31.

Former Inter midfielder Veron acknowledged that Juve are not playing at the same level that has seen them win nine straight Scudetti, but he believes they still have a killer edge that is missing in Antonio Conte's team.

"I follow Juve a little bit. I follow Inter more. Juventus must find again what they got in the past years. They felt unbeatable," Veron told Stats Perform News.

"Keeping the same level for many years is very hard. Juve did it. Perhaps this year things haven't gone as they wanted.

"On the other side, Inter have responsibilities. They are looking for the best way to be a great team again. It's not easy. They must find consistency in their results and their football. They must play in the right way.

"When you watch Juve, you know they will win. When you watch Inter, you know it's 50-50. They need to be decisive to gain results."

He added: "For me, the first thing about this match is the morale boost it can mean. That's for sure. After that, you play for points that are important as well.

"But [for Inter] being able to win after a long time would be, for a team who needs victories, important for the title race. For me, it's the most important thing for them."

Veron won the 2005-06 Serie A title - awarded due to Juve's involvement in the Calciopoli scandal - and the Coppa Italia twice during his two seasons on loan at Inter from Chelsea, but the club have not lifted any silverware since 2010-11.

Conte has come under pressure after failing to end that wait in his first campaign at the helm and Veron thinks the coach could use some stronger personalities in his squad.

"It is normal that [Conte] feels pressure from fans who want to win. The club signed stronger players, but it is not so easy to be consistent. You must gain results to get the right winning mentality," said Veron.

"Perhaps they need a player with a strong personality. You asked me for some names [from Inter's past for today], I could have told you three or 10. But today's football is different because of the money.

"It depends on clubs' strategies. In clubs like Inter you need to be used to pressure. In the end, the solution is to build the right team able to handle the pressure. But it takes time."

Will a Juventus-Paul Pogba reunion become a reality?

The future of Manchester United star continues to dominate headlines.

A move back to Turin could be on the cards for Pogba.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE TO MAKE POGBA OFFER

Serie A champions Juventus will try to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United at the end of the season, according to the Calciomercato.

Pogba appears set to leave United following the 2020-21 campaign after his agent Mino Raiola claimed the French midfielder was unhappy in Manchester.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked but Juve, who signed Pogba from United in 2012 before losing him to the Red Devils four years later, want to bring the World Cup winner back to Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Telegraph reports Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be given £200million to spend on new players in the next transfer window. Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku are on the list of potential targets, as well as Benfica's Darwin Nunez amid doubts over Sergio Aguero 's future. Haaland has also been linked with neighbours United , Madrid , Barca , Liverpool and Juve .

Bayern Munich are interested in Madrid defender Eder Militao , claims Mundo Deportivo. It comes as Bayern look to replace David Alaba , who is set to leave the Bundesliga champions on a free transfer. Alaba has been tipped to join Madrid .

Milan  are close to re-signing star pair Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu , says Tuttosport. Corriere dello Sport reports Milan are also nearing a deal to sign veteran forward Mario Mandzukic .

- The Athletic claims Mesut Ozil is poised to leave Arsenal for Turkish giants Fenerbahce after reaching an agreement in principle to terminate his Gunners contract.

- The Transfer Window Podcast claims Madrid are considering the possibility of using Eden Hazard in a deal to lure Kylian Mbappe from PSG.

Memphis Depay has been strongly tipped to move to Barca , however, Ok Diario reports the Lyon captain could join Madrid following Luka Jovic's loan return to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Juventus may not be leading the way in Serie A but they continue to be the benchmark in Italian football, according to Inter boss Antonio Conte.

Juve have secured the title for nine successive seasons in the top flight but face a battle to stretch that streak into double figures under Andrea Pirlo's leadership.

Milan lead the way in the table having lost just once in 17 league games so far, while Inter and Roma also sit above the reigning champions in the table.

However, as far as Conte is concerned, the Bianconeri remain the team to beat in the competition.

"We know Juventus are a benchmark. They are the side we must look to, one that have dominated in Italy," he told the media ahead of Sunday's showdown with Juventus at San Siro.

"They are a side that could show us where we are at - Juve are a reference point for us."

A former player for Juve who went on to win Serie A three times while in charge in Turin, Conte praised the way his old club have always looked to build from a position of strength.

He pinpointed the additions made in the transfer market - including Alvaro Morata and Dejan Kulusevski - as a major reason for Juve continuing to set the standard.

"The gap has been narrowed but no one has done it definitely in Italy," Conte said.

"In the past nine years they have dominated. They have done well in all areas. They have managed to change and adapt, they have made the squad younger and fresher.

"This year they have a structure which has always won. Plus they have added Morata, for example. Each year they do a great job of trying to improve.

"I do not think in Italy there is anyone at that level yet. Sides have improved but not cut out the gap to Juventus. We cannot think anything else than that."

Inter have achieved five consecutive home Serie A wins – the last time they managed six in a row was back in December 2018 - but have not beaten Juve at San Siro in the league since September 2016.

Conte has yet to register a Serie A win in games against his former employers, losing all three past meetings.

Andrea Pirlo says Antonio Conte is the person who inspired him to move into coaching and is fully aware of the mind games being used by the Inter boss ahead of Sunday's Derby d'Italia.

Midfield great Pirlo worked under Conte for Juventus and Italy during his illustrious playing career before retiring in 2017 and taking up his first managerial role with Juve last August.

Pirlo has made an inconsistent start to life in the Allianz Stadium dugout, but his side have won their last three league games to move to within four points of second-place Inter with a game in hand.

Despite being a further three points behind leaders Milan, Conte suggested ahead of Juve's trip to San Siro that the reigning champions remain the Scudetto favourites given they have won it nine years in a row.

The first of those title wins came with Conte in charge and Pirlo a regular in midfield, and the latter is not reading too much into the comments of his former head coach, who he still admires greatly.

"He likes to do this, I know him well," Pirlo said at Saturday's pre-match news conference. "He tries to take the pressure off his team and put it on us. 

"We have no problems, we are Juventus, we have been winning for nine years and it is normal that we have more pressure. 

"But they too have been built to win, and they are no less than us. It will be a great match between two teams that have the same ambition."

Pirlo previously described Conte as "the best coach he has ever worked with" and has opened up on the part the 51-year-old has played in his career.

He said: "Antonio was the first one who made me think about studying as a coach. I am grateful to him because he taught me so much as a player and from there I thought about a future as a manager. 

"He is making a career of the highest level and has a great human depth but tomorrow we will be opponents. We have two different characters and maybe that's why we get along.

"There is still great esteem and great affection. He gave me a lot and made history at Juventus."

Juve are the only team against which Conte has always lost as manager in Serie A (three out of three), with the Bianconeri unbeaten in nine of their last 10 away league meetings in this fixture.

However, Inter have won five in a row on home soil in the league - the last time they won six on the spin was in December 2018 - and Pirlo is anticipating a tough match against an expensively-assembled side.

"Initially I expect an aggressive Inter who will want to give rhythm to the match," he said. "We have prepared ourselves for this must not be afraid, even in such an important match. It will be a tactical match but we must also be free of our heads. 

"A victory can give us an important boost because it is Inter-Juventus. It is a game that goes beyond three points. It is not only important for the championship standings but for everything else. 

"There is great attention and great concentration because we compete against a great team with great champions. They have strengthened during the summer, while we have made a journey towards the future.

"They have put players in the team for the present. We are two teams that will fight until the end for the victory of the championship."

Matthijs de Ligt, Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado will play no part after recently testing positive for coronavirus but Aaron Ramsey, Giorgio Chiellini and Weston McKennie are all in contention to start.

Juve have yet to lose a league game in which De Ligt has not started this term, drawing four and winning three, and Pirlo is happy with the options available to him at the back.

"De Ligt is important but let's remember that we also have other champions behind us," he said. "We will field players of great depth who have been at this level for many years. 

"This is certainly an absence that we would have done less willingly but we feel even stronger with the return of Chiellini and with [Leonardo] Bonucci."

Manchester United and Chelsea are set to do battle for the signing of West Ham star Declan Rice.

Rice, 22, is being touted for a move in the close season, with Chelsea having reportedly led the race for the midfielder's signature.

But United could be ready to fight for the England international.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO CHALLENGE CHELSEA FOR RICE

Manchester United are prepared to challenge Chelsea to sign Rice ahead of 2021-22, according to ESPN.

The report says United are eyeing a forward, centre-back and defensive midfielder as priorities at the end of the season.

Rice is contracted at West Ham, where he arrived as a youth player from Chelsea in 2014, until 2024.

 

ROUND-UP

- Eric Garcia looks set to finish the season with Manchester City. Marca reports Barcelona cannot afford a transfer fee for the defender and the delay of the LaLiga club's presidential elections, now scheduled for March 7, mean Garcia will have to wait for a move.

- Also at Barcelona and backup goalkeeper Neto has asked for a January move, according to Sport. It comes as he struggles for game time behind Marc-Andre ter Stegen and amid links to Arsenal.

- Eder Militao is facing an uncertain future at Real Madrid. Goal reports Bayern Munich have joined the list of clubs who have asked about the defender, with Juventus, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund also reportedly interested in Militao, who has played just three times this season.

- Milan want Chelsea's Fikayo Tomori. The Daily Mail reports the Serie A leaders have discussed a loan with the option to make the move permanent for €30.4million (£27m) at season's end.

Alvaro Morata rates the "incredible" Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the best players of all time and intends to tell his children he played alongside the Juventus forward.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has scored 19 goals in 18 games in his third season with Serie A champions Juve.

Morata returned to the Allianz Stadium from Atletico Madrid on an initial loan deal last September and has chipped in with four goals and five assists in 12 league outings.

The pair also spent time together at Real Madrid and Morata says it is a pleasure linking up with the Portugal captain once again.

"It's easy to play with him," he told Sky Sport Italia. "I've known him for some time. On some occasions when a normal person wouldn't score, he scores. 

"In Parma I gave him an assist that only he could see and understand. I understand his movements and what he likes to do. 

"I often take his men away by moving, and I think it helps him not to always have two or three players around him. It's a pleasure to play with him.

"He is still one of the best in football history. He's great, has incredible quality and he can play wherever he wants, whether it is as a number nine, 10 or 11. 

"I can only enjoy it every day, and I hope to support him for a long time to come.

"It's a pride for me. I grew up watching him and when I got here thinking about playing with him and [Paulo] Dybala thrilled me. 

"They are players of a higher level. We have an excellent relationship even off the pitch. I will tell my children that I played with them."

Juventus travel to second-placed Inter on Sunday aiming to bridge a four-point gap to their opponents, whom they have a game in hand over.

As well as pitting together two Italian giants, it will also be a clash between Serie A's two highest scorers this season - Ronaldo (15) and Romelu Lukaku (12).

The 27 goals the pair have netted between them is more than 12 Serie A clubs have netted in total this season.

Morata is looking forward to coming up against another of his former colleagues in Lukaku and hopes to swap shirts with the prolific striker after the match at San Siro.

"Romelu is one of the best strikers in the world, he is complete," the Spaniard said. "He is also a great person, someone I like to see play. 

"At the end of the match I will ask him for the shirt as a souvenir. We will try to stop him on the field, even if it will be difficult. 

"Lautaro [Martinez] is a more versatile player, but Lukaku does things where you can't stop him."

Sunday's Derby d'Italia clash will be the 175th in Serie A history, with Juve's 84 victories in this fixture the most for a team against a single opponent in the Italian top flight.

Erling Haaland is one of the sought-after players in world football.

The Borussia Dortmund forward can reportedly take his pick from Europe's elite.

But if his agent Mino Raiola has his way, Camp Nou could be Haaland's next destination.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND COULD LEAVE BVB AT SEASON'S END

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could leave the Bundesliga club for Barcelona at the end of the season, according to TV3 program Onze.

Haaland has been linked with the likes of Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus following his exploits for Dortmund.

The Norway international forward reportedly has a €75million (£66.8m) release clause at the end of his second season in Dortmund, though he could depart sooner rather than later.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano says United are not working on a deal to sign Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. The Spanish superstar is out of contract at the end of the season, and he has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Juve, City, Chelsea and Liverpool. A move to Liverpool is reportedly not on the horizon due to his role in the injury to Mohamed Salah in the 2018 Champions League final.

City have joined Serie A champions Juve in the race to sign Sassuolo star Manuel Locatelli, reports the Daily Mail.

- According to Sky Sport Italia, Sportitalia and Tuttomercatoweb, Milan are set to meet with free agent Mario Mandzukic over the next 24 hours to discuss a short-term deal. Staying at San Siro and Sky Sport Italia says the Rossoneri are close to signing Torino midfielder Soualiho Meite on loan with the option to buy.

Arsenal are interested in Barca goalkeeper Neto, claims Sky Sports. With backup Runar Alex Runarsson struggling in London, the Gunners are hoping to bring in Neto on loan.

- Marca reports Barca are targeting Valencia star Jose Gaya to bolster their left-back position, while Villarreal's Alfonso Pedraza is another option.

Juventus are set to complete the signing of American defender Bryan Reynolds from MLS club Dallas, says Romano. The 19-year-old will join Benevento until June, before linking up with Juve.

Andrea Pirlo felt Juventus' youngsters proved they were "up to it" but said they must be more ruthless after needing extra time to beat Genoa 3-2 in the Coppa Italia.

Juve dominated Serie A strugglers Genoa in the first half at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday, the lively Dejan Kulusevski opening the scoring inside two minutes before laying on a second goal for Alvaro Morata.

Lennart Czyborra halved the deficit with a header against the run of play midway through the first half and Filippo Melegoni forced extra time with a great finish from 25 yards out.

Cristiano Ronaldo was introduced as a substitute late in normal time, but it was 21-year-old debutant Hamza Rafia who settled it late in the first period of extra time.

Radu Dragusin and Manolo Portanova were among the other young players given an opportunity by Pirlo on a night which saw a much-changed Juve side have 24 shots, 13 of which were on target, as they made hard work of setting up a quarter-final tie against Sassuolo or SPAL.

Pirlo was impressed by the Juve youngsters, but was frustrated the Serie A champions were taken to extra time ahead of a clash with Inter on Sunday.

He said: "They played a great match, I'm happy for them because they proved to be up to it. Too bad the game was complicated, we had to close it in the first half."

Pirlo added: "It happens that every now and then when we think the race is over we lose focus, thinking it's all easy, but if you don't have your head right they become complicated games. 

"As happened today when we went to extra time, we lost energy and had to finish it in the first half."

Kulusevski staked his claim for a regular starting berth, hitting the target with four of his five shots and making four key passes as he tormented Genoa in a classy performance.

Pirlo was not surprised to see the Sweden midfielder and striker Morata, starting for the first time since recovering from a thigh injury, link up so effectively.

The former Italy playmaker said: "They had a great understanding, especially in the first half when they played very close and played for each other. 

"They have been training together since the beginning of the season and they know what their characteristics are and how to look for each other and tonight they proved it."

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