Maurizio Sarri reiterated Juventus cannot play with three forwards as he expressed confidence in his side's ability to bounce back from a disappointing draw with Sassuolo.

Sarri has faced consistent questions this season over the possibility of using Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain in a front three.

Dybala was left on the bench last Sunday as Ronaldo and Higuain started up front in a gripping 2-2 game that saw Juventus surrender top spot in Serie A to Inter.

Third-placed Lazio, who are seven points off the top, are the opposition on Saturday as Juve make the trip to the Stadio Olimpico.

There is unlikely to be a Juve attacking triumvirate on show in the capital, however, with coach Sarri insisting it is not possible to play all three together at present.

"Right now, playing three forwards is difficult due to the characteristics of the players," he told a media conference.

"You can't prohibit Dybala from dropping deep, and at the same time Cristiano's characteristics are not to play too central. We must take some precautions to fill the penalty area more.

"It's normal that after Champions League games there's a drop in energy, mentality and confidence, but from what I've seen in training I'm confident. As always, we have to respond on the pitch, getting three points is always important regardless of the game.

"It will be an important matchday for the teams high up in the table, I hope that our motivations are high.

"Lazio are a strong team with great quality. They are the best in Italy and among the best in Europe for getting into the last 25 metres. We need to keep them away from our area because they are very dangerous.

"Based on the average amount of points that they are picking up, Lazio have to be in the conversation for the fight for top.

"I expect a strong approach from Lazio, who will be very determined. We will have to resist it, come out and dictate the game how we want to."

Cristiano Ronaldo's next step is to rediscover his spark after proving he has improved physically in Juventus' 2-2 draw with Sassuolo, says head coach Maurizio Sarri.

The Portugal forward has been struggling with a knee problem, which saw him miss last weekend's contest with Atalanta before he was restored to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Prior to the international break, Ronaldo had been hauled off in wins over Lokomotiv Moscow and Milan despite Juve having been level at the time of his withdrawal.

Ronaldo netted a 68th-minute penalty at Allianz Stadium to earn a point against Sassuolo on Sunday, though, and Sarri was encouraged by what he saw.

"The feeling is that he has regained strength," Sarri told DAZN. "He is doing better in the final [moments].

"The next step will be to recover the brilliance."

Prior to Ronaldo's intervention, Juve appeared destined to pay the price for a lacklustre showing that saw Leonardo Bonucci's opener cancelled out as Sassuolo scored through Jeremie Boga and Francesco Caputo.

The second of those was a tame effort that squirmed through veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon after a rash clearance from Matthijs de Ligt.

"It was an incredible series of mistakes, from a bad back-pass to another that hit a Sassuolo player," Sarri added.

"When you aren't fully focused, a howler can happen."

Sassuolo were playing with teenage debutant Stefano Turati in goal and the 18-year-old put on a fine display in Turin.

After the game, Turati explained he had an important phone call to make.

"I honestly don't have the words! So many emotions, it all happened so quickly and I never expected this. It was an extraordinary sensation and an incredible day for me," he said.

"The save on Ronaldo was the most important for the game, with that free-kick, but the breakthrough for me was early on to stop their counter-attack.

"It was an honour to play against Gigi Buffon, as I used to watch him when I was growing up. I am so happy and shocked that I don’t even know what to say. The first thing I have to do now is call my mum!"

Maurizio Sarri hopes Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo wins his sixth Ballon d'Or, and he also tipped team-mate Paulo Dybala to be recognised as the world's best player in the future.

Ronaldo is up against fellow five-time winner Lionel Messi and Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk in the running for this year's gong, while Juve defender Matthijs de Ligt is in contention to win the Kopa Trophy awarded to the best performing player under the age of 21.

After watching Ronaldo overcoming a persistent knee injury to play a full 90 minutes in Juve's 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, Sarri said he was impressed with the 34-year-old's recovery.

"Cristiano did well in the last game, even with some resistance," Sarri told reporters. "Now he just has to grow in terms of brilliance.

"I hope that Cristiano wins the Ballon d'Or, de Ligt the Kopa Trophy and that Dybala will one day be a future Ballon d’Or contender."

Serie A leaders Juventus play 14th-placed Sassuolo on Sunday, and Sarri said his deliberation over selecting two from Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Dybala to play in attack is a welcome problem.

But the former Napoli and Chelsea coach warned his players against complacency as they go in search of a fifth consecutive Serie A victory, having beaten Atalanta 3-1 prior to the win over Atletico.

"Tomorrow's game is very dangerous," Sarri said of the Sassuolo clash. "We come into this fixture after two games that took away a lot of our mental energy.

"In addition, Sassuolo is a team that has done well, even on the road, and they have a young and strong coach who I respect a lot.

"Do I get a headache choosing who to play in attack? If anything, the opposition gets the headache.

"Emre Can may be an option for tomorrow. Alex Sandro took part in the full training session with the team yesterday. We need to see if he can play 90 minutes. 

"[Federico] Bernardeschi is doing well, he is a useful player to the team, who has great technical qualities, so we ask him to give more."

"What the f*** are you shooting from over there?" was Maurizio Sarri's reaction to Paulo Dybala's memorable free-kick for Juventus in the Champions League.

Dybala scored a stunning set-piece against Atletico Madrid as Juve secured top spot in Group D with Tuesday's 1-0 victory in Turin.

From an acute angle on the right side of the penalty box, Dybala somehow beat Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak in first-half stoppage time.

Speaking to reporters post-game, Juve head coach Sarri said: "Dybala scored a goal that nobody could have advised him to do.

"The first thing that a coach says in that situation is: 'What the f*** are you shooting from over there?' And therefore what he did was extraordinary.

"The applause was owed to him, for the performance but also for the technical skill which was extraordinary."

While Dybala was the hero again for Juve, it was another frustrating night for superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Having missed last week's victory away to Atalanta due to his troublesome knee, Ronaldo returned to the line-up but he appeared to struggle against Atletico.

Asked if Ronaldo is cut off from the game due to the team's style of play, Sarri told reporters: "No, there was no problem with Ronaldo.

"The problem was the way we were occupying spaces. In the first half Paulo was often playing far away from the goal, Cristiano was not playing in the centre and therefore we were never occupying the central spaces. We could have done this more with one of the two alternatively, when Paulo was going for the ball Cristiano could have played more in the centre and when Cristiano was out Dybala could have gone less for the ball.

"Otherwise we could have exploited that space with [Aaron] Ramsey, therefore we had some problem occupying spaces, rather than because we were cutting off players from the game."

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to be troubled by knee pain, with Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri to discuss the injury with his star forward.

Ronaldo returned to the Juve side for Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League win at home to Atletico Madrid after missing a weekend victory away to Atalanta in Serie A.

The Portugal international appeared to struggle at times as Paulo Dybala's stunning free-kick ensured the Bianconeri will finish top of Group D with a game to spare.

Ronaldo was substituted in each of Juve's two league games prior to the international break, and Sarri accepts the 34-year-old's fitness must be managed.

"I haven't spoken to him yet about the pain in his knee," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia after Ronaldo completed the full 90 minutes. 

"But he looked to be in good shape, as in the final stages he was tracking back, fighting hard and helping out in defence.

"Dybala is world class, in a very positive period of form, so right now he is making the difference."

Though Juve maintained their momentum with another victory, Sarri was left frustrated with aspects of their performance against Atletico.

"We used up a lot of energy this evening, as is inevitable in the Champions League," he added. 

"I think we did very well but, like the Atalanta match at the weekend, we had to fight very hard to achieve the victory.

"It was above all a great first half, and we built on that. We tend to struggle more in Serie A to pass it around quickly.

"Perhaps there is more motivation for us in the Champions League, but that is a mistake, because we have to play this style of football in every tournament.

"I was angry in the second half, as we gave the ball away cheaply. The sensation was that, just like Atalanta, we allowed them to cross too much.

"Maybe we need to improve the intensity with which we close down these crosses and passes in wide areas."

Paulo Dybala scored a wonderful free-kick to earn Juventus a 1-0 home win over Atletico Madrid that secured top spot in Group D of the Champions League.

Atletico, knocked out by Juve last season, had the better of the first half but moments before the interval Dybala whipped a superb set-piece in from a narrow angle to open the scoring.

Although Joao Felix's introduction from the bench improved Atletico, it was Juve substitute Federico Bernardeschi who went closest to the game's second goal when he hit the post on Tuesday.

Juve, who welcomed back Cristiano Ronaldo, were already through but with 13 points Maurizio Sarri's side now cannot be caught at the summit with Atletico needing a win when the group stage ends next month.

Dybala had an early effort saved by Jan Oblak but Atletico had the better of the opening exchanges with Thomas Partey and Saul Niguez failing to hit the target with decent chances.

Wojciech Szczesny then briefly spilled Saul's shot only for the goalkeeper to beat Alvaro Morata to the loose ball, however Juve took the lead on the stroke of half-time.

From close to the touchline on the right side of the penalty box, Dybala whipped a superb strike past the wall and across Oblak into the roof of the net.

Joao Felix's arrival from the bench breathed new life into Atletico's attack however Juve went close to adding a second when Bernardeschi's low shot from 20 yards beat Oblak but not the upright.

A difficult day almost got worse for Atletico when Felipe's challenge on Ronaldo was checked by VAR, the defender avoiding a red card after appearing to stamp on the Portugal superstar.

Atletico should have snatched a draw deep in added time when Morata failed to convert Thomas Lemar's low cross, though replays suggested the striker was offside anyway.


What does it mean? Atletico have work to do

Juve were already through but have theoretically secured an easier tie in the next round, with Atletico still expected to join them.

They will need to win away to Lokomotiv Moscow, who are already confirmed as finishing bottom of the group, if they are to progress in the competition.


Dybala hot streak continues

Few players would have had the imagination to shoot from the position Dybala fired home a wonderful free-kick, the 10th time he has scored from a set piece for Juve.

The Argentina attacker has found the net three games in a row for Juve and is growing in confidence.


Morata offers little threat

Diego Costa's neck injury means Morata will have to lead the line for Atletico in the coming weeks, but the Spain striker struggled to make an impact against a rugged Juve backline led by the excellent Leonardo Bonucci.


What's next?

Sassuolo visit Juve in Serie A on Sunday, with Atletico hosting Barcelona in a huge LaLiga clash on the same day. The final round of Group D games on December 11 sees Juve go to Bayer Leverkusen, while Atletico are at home to Lokomotiv.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in the Juventus team to face Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Ronaldo was absent from the weekend win at Atalanta in Serie A due to injury but will partner Paulo Dybala in attack, with Gonzalo Higuain left on the bench. 

The Portugal star had been substituted in successive league games prior to the international break, prompting rumours of a rift with Juve coach Maurizio Sarri.

Both men denied the speculation and Ronaldo has returned to the Juve side for the Group D game despite, with his team having already sealed a place in the next round.

Matthias de Ligt will also start in defence after Sarri suggested the Netherlands international would need to be assessed ahead of the game.

Joao Felix is only on the bench for Atletico as he continues to recover from an ankle injury, with Vitolo instead partnering Alvaro Morata in attack for Diego Simeone's side.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in the Juventus squad for Tuesday's Champions League home game against Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo was a doubt for the Group D clash in Turin after missing Juve's win away to Atalanta in Serie A at the weekend.

But the Portugal superstar has been included in an initial 20-man squad, with Matthijs de Ligt and Federico Bernardeschi also making the list after head coach Maurizio Sarri suggested they needed to be evaluated for the game.

Ronaldo and Sarri have both denied there is a problem in their relationship after the attacker was substituted two league games running prior to the international break when Juve were chasing a winning goal.

Former Real Madrid forward Ronaldo has scored 2 goals against Atletico in all competitions, including four hat-tricks.

Two of those were scored in the Champions League, with a treble in March 2019 against Atletico turning the tie around for Juventus and booking a quarter-final spot.

Juve are top of Group D, three points clear of Atletico, and have already secured their place in the next round.

Cristiano Ronaldo has trained with Juventus and will be evaluated ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid, Maurizio Sarri has confirmed.

The Portugal striker sat out the unconvincing 3-1 win at Atalanta over the weekend as he continues to contend with a knee injury.

However, Ronaldo is seemingly in line to feature in the Group D contest against Atleti, an opponent the former Real Madrid star has scored 25 times against in his prolific career.

"Yesterday he did the training sessions with his team-mates," Sarri said. "He seems to be growing [stronger].

"We will evaluate it between today and tomorrow to see if we have solved it, but the fact that yesterday he did all the training with his team-mates is very positive.

"I think and hope there will be no repercussions."

Ronaldo's relationship with Sarri has been under the microscope in recent weeks, mainly due to the coach's decision to haul off his star forward in two straight matches when Juve were chasing a win prior to the international break.

The second of those games, a 1-0 victory over AC Milan, saw Ronaldo head straight down the tunnel and reportedly leave the stadium before the match had finished.

However, Sarri insists all is well between the duo and he has no objection to players showing frustration when being substituted.

"My relationship with Cristiano is good," he added. 

"If a player who has won so much is angry about being substituted it means he still has a lot of motivation and this is something positive.

"It is 25 years I have seen players get angry over substitutions."

Sarri, who confirmed Matthijs de Ligt and Federico Bernardeschi will also be evaluated before the game with Atleti, also explained why he does not foresee Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala lining up in the same XI any time soon.

"Playing Paulo, Gonzalo and Cristiano all together is difficult because of their characteristics, but all three know how to play really well and are comfortable with each other," he said.

"We have three strong strikers for two places. None of the three can play 65 games as seen in the early part of the season. Everyone will find a place."

Juve have already qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League but know a win over Atleti will secure top spot in Group D.

"Right now I'm seeing the team play excellently in flashes and I would like to see some more continuity in certain aspects, but we must take into account the characteristics of the players," Sarri said. 

"We certainly have room for improvement. Against Atleti we can't worry about what they are going to do. 

"They are a difficult team to face but we must think about how important first place in the group is."

Maurizio Sarri insists he had no problem with resting Cristiano Ronaldo for Juventus' Serie A clash with Atalanta, despite an unconvincing display from the Bianconeri.

Ronaldo was not risked on Saturday as he continues to deal with a knee issue, and his absence was felt for the majority of the match, until Gonzalo Higuain's double and Paulo Dybala's stoppage-time strike secured a 3-1 comeback win.

Sarri, who made headlines when he took Ronaldo off against AC Milan prior to the international break, hopes to have the former Real Madrid star fit to feature against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday.

However, he stated he had no issue with leaving Juve's star forward out against Atalanta.

"I hope he'll be back for the Champions League on Tuesday. He has this little problem that is above all affecting him in training, as he's struggling to train consistently," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.

"A lot depends on how the lad feels, the fatigue and the need he has at any moment to rest. He felt, and I fully agreed, it was important right now to find a way of training that wouldn't put extra pressure on the knee.

"It's a solid knee, there are no lesions, but constantly having that pain does take it out of you.

"I was happy to rest him, as I felt the same way, that it was best to take this time to first of all rest and secondly analyse training methods to see how he could train differently."

Musa Barrow missed an early penalty for Atalanta, who deservedly went ahead thanks to Robin Gosen's 56th-minute header, though the hosts' profligacy did ultimately come back to bite them.

Sarri conceded his side were fortunate to get back into the match, but was thrilled with their self-belief once the scores were level.

"It was an entertaining game with tempo and intensity, the kind you don't usually see in Serie A," Sarri said.

"We lost our heads after the penalty, thinking of everything except the game of football and allowed Atalanta to take total control. They deservedly went in front.

"We were fortunate to score the equaliser in a chaotic move against the run of play and from there on showed belief we could win it.

"In the final minutes, we started to attack the spaces that were opening up, whereas we didn't do that enough before."

Gonzalo Higuain scored twice in the second half as Serie A leaders Juventus produced a late fightback to secure a 3-1 win at Atalanta.

Without Cristiano Ronaldo - who was not risked for Saturday's encounter - Maurizio Sarri's side were second best for long periods in Bergamo before Higuain's brace in the space of eight minutes.

Robin Gosens had deservedly put Atalanta ahead before the hour, though Gian Piero Gasperini will rue his team missing a series of chances - including Musa Barrow's penalty - in the first half.

Their profligacy allowed Juve - who also survived a VAR check for a second potential penalty against them – to claim the points, Paulo Dybala adding a late third for the visitors in stoppage time.

Cristiano Ronaldo says is focused on returning to full fitness after being left out of the Juventus squad for Saturday's Serie A game away to Atalanta.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri told reporters Ronaldo was unlikely to be available for the trip to Bergamo and he was duly absent when the squad was named later on Friday.

Ronaldo has been substituted in Juve's last two games, prompting rumours of a rift between the forward and Sarri, though both men have denied that is the case.

It is unclear whether the Portugal star will be ready to return for Tuesday's Champions League group game at home to Atletico Madrid.

"Focused on my recovery to come back soon!" Ronaldo posted on Instagram after being left out of the Juve squad.

Serie A leaders Juve are on track to reach the next round of the Champions League after taking 10 points from their first four games in Group D.

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick for Portugal in their 6-0 demolition of Lithuania before netting his 99th international goal in a 2-0 win against Luxembourg.

Sarri previously said the 34-year-old is battling a knee issue and Ronaldo revealed he has been playing through pain.

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to miss Juventus' trip to Atalanta this weekend due to fitness concerns, but head coach Maurizio Sarri has insisted he has no problem with the superstar forward.

The 34-year-old was upset at being substituted early in the second half of Juve's 1-0 win over AC Milan in their most recent match, four days after being withdrawn against Lokomotiv Moscow.

Sarri cited a bruised knee for his decision to bring off Ronaldo and the Portugal international this week confirmed he has recently been playing through the pain barrier.

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick for Portugal in their 6-0 demolition of Lithuania last week before netting his 99th international goal in Sunday's 2-0 win against Luxembourg.

Love this feeling  pic.twitter.com/e7bZ9vtJJU

— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) November 15, 2019

However, despite featuring twice for his country, Sarri revealed at Friday's pre-match news conference that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is still not fully fit.

"There is no need to explain his reaction to being substituted," Sarri told reporters. "Even among amateurs the reaction to being substituted is the same.

"If anything, the problem is that on Tuesday he told us he had the same issue and we have prepared a programme that will allow him to overcome the problem.

"There is a 99 per cent chance he will not be available for tomorrow's game. The goal is to be ready for the Champions League match with Atletico Madrid."

Blaise Matuidi withdrew from France's squad due to a rib injury sustained against Milan two weeks ago, but he is back in contention for Saturday's meeting with Atalanta.

"He still feels a little pain, but he played the whole training session with us yesterday and will be available," Sarri said.

"Alex Sandro's problem is less serious than it had initially seemed, while Adrien Rabiot and Juan Cuadrado have adductor problems, but Miralem Pjanic will be available."

Juventus are a point better off than Inter at the top of Serie A ahead of their trip to Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia after winning three league games in a row.

Opponents Atalanta have won just one of their last five league matches, but they lead the scoring charts in Italy's top flight and Sarri is fully aware of their strengths.

"They have a way of playing with great intensity. To call it annoying is an understatement," he said. "They are a strong and dangerous team, one that is difficult to face.

"But changing mentality for a single opponent is impossible. It takes months to build a mentality - we have to go our own way."

Cristiano Ronaldo insists there was nothing controversial about his recent substitutions for Juventus because he has been playing through the pain of a knee complaint.

Ronaldo appeared disgruntled when he was removed early in the second half of Juve's Serie A match against AC Milan last weekend, with replacement Paulo Dybala going on to score the only goal in a 1-0 win.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri explained afterwards that a bruised knee had hindered Ronaldo, who was also withdrawn during a preceding 2-1 Champions League triumph at Lokomotiv Moscow – another match where the five-time Ballon d'Or winner witnessed the winning goal from the sidelines.

Ronaldo retained his typically prolific form for Portugal during the international break, hitting a hat-trick in a 6-0 demolition of Lithuania before capping a 2-0 win in Luxembourg on Sunday that sealed qualification for Euro 2020 and moved him on to 99 goals for his country.

"For the last three weeks, I have been playing limited. There was no controversy, you create controversy," Ronaldo told reporters after the match at Stade Josy Barthel.

"I don't like to be replaced, but I have been playing limited for the last three weeks. I tried to help Juventus, even playing injured. 

"No one likes to be replaced, but I understand why – I was not well. I'm still not 100 per cent, but when it comes to sacrificing for the club or team I do it with pride because I know there were a lot of games up for grabs."

Ronaldo went on to outline the high stakes that persuade him to put his 34-year-old body on the line.

"At Juventus, Inter are putting on a lot of pressure [in Serie A]. We are two points ahead, but we can't go easy because if we draw or lose, they pass us and I sacrificed myself," he said.

"In the national team, if we didn't win one of our two games, we could be out. I also sacrificed myself for the national team. 

"I never had major injuries. I play 50 or 60 games a year, but at one time or another there may be an unforeseen event – it's a pain that keeps me from being 100 per cent. 

"I always try to help. They put a lot of controversy on this subject, but you know I don't talk much in the press. 

"We won. Juventus are in first place, we qualified and I will be 100 per cent as fast as possible."

Portugal endured a tougher outing than expected in Luxembourg, with Ronaldo's close-range strike sealing the points four minutes from time after a dismal playing surface served to compromise Fernando Santos' side.

"It is difficult to play on these pitches, a potato field," Ronaldo added witheringly.

"I don't know how it is possible for teams of this level to play on pitches of this quality. The game was not beautiful. 

"We did our job, it was the pitch where we had to play, we won 2-0 and that was the priority."

Maurizio Sarri said he is "not worried" about the knee problem that contributed to Cristiano Ronaldo's second-half substitution against AC Milan on Sunday.

Ronaldo was taken off with the Serie A result still in the balance for the second game in succession and the Juve superstar appeared frustrated with the decision.

The 34-year-old forward jogged straight down the tunnel and reportedly left the Allianz Stadium before the final whistle in Turin.

His replacement, Paulo Dybala, later produced an excellent goal to secure Juve a 1-0 victory over struggling Milan.

Ronaldo had underperformed in his 55 minutes on the pitch, leading Sarri to explain the nature of his injury issue.

"He was hit in a training session. He suffered a knee bruise. Maybe the right knee, if I remember correctly," the Bianconeri head coach said.

"It's not a big issue, no twist, only a bruise at the collateral ligament. When he steps he can't push as usual, but I am not worried about it."

Sarri's withdrawal of Ronaldo when three points were up for grabs mirrored the move he made in the midweek Champions League win over Lokomotiv Moscow.

The former Real Madrid man's failure to reappear on the bench attracted criticism from ex-Juve coach Fabio Capello.

"The fact that he didn't sit on the bench and said bad words to Sarri is not a pretty picture," Capello told Sky Sport Italia.

"One must be a champion even when he is replaced, not only when things are going well. Right now, Dybala is in great shape.

"The truth is that Ronaldo has not dribbled past an opponent for three years. I remember it when he went past players and left them there. Now it doesn't happen anymore, while Douglas Costa and Dybala do it.

"If I had been in Sarri's place I would have reproached him in the changing room. I would have told him that he must have respect for his team-mates and if I take him off it is because I want to try to win the game."

Dybala's intervention means Juve remain a point ahead of Serie A title rivals Inter going into the international break.

Blaise Matuidi could be forced to pull out of the France squad following further medical assessment on a suspected rib fracture, Sarri confirmed.

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