Andrea Pirlo is not overly concerned by Juventus' poor run of form, although he knows his team must return to winning ways when they face Crotone on Monday.

Juve have not won in three matches in all competitions, following up a 0-0 Coppa Italia draw with Inter – which nevertheless secured their place in the final – with defeats to Napoli in Serie A and Porto in the Champions League.

Their performance against Porto was particularly lacklustre, but Pirlo believes the fixture congestion since the turn of the year is a major factor.

The Bianconeri played nine times in January and have been in action on a further five occasions in February, with two games every week in 2021 until now.

"I speak with the president after every game. We spoke after the game at Porto and he didn't intervene this week," Pirlo told a news conference on Sunday.

"We knew we had played a bad game, there was no reason for him to reproach the team. I raised my voice during half-time in Porto, I didn't like how we played and I didn't like the reaction.

"We switched off at the beginning of the second half and we've been analysing the mistakes this week. There's no reason to raise your voice when you know you didn't do well.

"The players must transform their disappointment into energy for tomorrow's game.

"I am not worried, we had won 11 games out of 13. It was normal to have a drop; unfortunately, we had it in a decisive moment after many games.

"It's normal not to be always focused when you play 15 games in 40 days – it's like we played half of a season in one month and a half.

"We knew it would be an intense season, we are here and we must fight for our targets."

Next opponents Crotone sit rock bottom of Serie A, with just three wins from their 22 games so far, although they are unbeaten in their past two league matches against Juve.

While the strugglers have only once avoided defeat in three successive games against a single top-flight opponent, the Bianconeri have failed to win four of their past seven league meetings with promoted sides.

"It's an important game to continue our path in the title race. It's going to be a tough game because Crotone are not going through a good moment, but they play well," Pirlo added.

"They've kept their philosophy and they are trying to impose themselves in every game."

Cristiano Ronaldo has not scored since February 6 but will look to make Crotone the 78th different side he has netted against in Europe's 'top five' league; only Zlatan Ibrahimovic (79) has scored against more such individual opponents since 2000.

Ronaldo has netted against each of the 17 current Serie A teams he has faced in so far, yet Pirlo said the former Real Madrid superstar is still working hard to improve his free-kick taking.

Since his arrival at Juve in 2018, Ronaldo has attempted 44 shots directly from free-kicks in the league but scored only once.

"Free-kick goals are important, they can decide games, especially against teams that sit deep," Pirlo said.

"Ronaldo is training well and is improving. He is calm and he is convinced he is soon going to score from a free-kick."

Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey believes Lionel Messi needs to leave Barcelona when his contract expires at the end of the season. Such a move, Bailey believes, would take Messi closer to Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of achievement.

Zinedine Zidane enjoyed watching Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland in Champions League action, though he refused to be drawn over his preference amid links to Real Madrid.

Mbappe lit up the start of the knockout stages of the European competition with a hat-trick for Paris Saint-Germain against Madrid's domestic rivals Barcelona on Tuesday, helping the French club record an outstanding 4-1 triumph at Camp Nou.

Just 24 hours later, Haaland continued his astonishing scoring exploits in the Champions League, becoming the fastest player to reach 10 goals for one club as he struck twice for Borussia Dortmund in a 3-2 victory away to Sevilla in the last 16.

Both young forwards have been rumoured as transfer targets for Madrid, so it was hardly surprising they were a topic of discussion for Zidane during his pre-match media conference ahead of Saturday's LaLiga trip to Real Valladolid.

Asked for his assessment of fellow Frenchman Mbappe, he replied: "I think the performance he put in earlier this week was marvellous. 

"I loved seeing what he did because we know each other from France.

"It's very good for football, I watched the game as a fan. I had a very good time watching it. He has a lot of good movement, a lot of good play."

French media has claimed Mbappe has been offered a new long-term deal to remain at PSG. The 22-year-old's current contract runs until 2022, which is the same year Haaland can leave Dortmund for €75million (£65m), according to a reported agreement with the Bundesliga club.

Madrid head coach Zidane, however, was not interested in revealing which of the duo he ranked higher.

"Like I said, what I like is just watching football. I just like watching good football, good players on the pitch," he said. 

"Two tremendous players, for now and the future. That's it. I'm not going to say who I prefer over the other. Everyone has their opinion."

The continued rise of Mbappe and Haaland as superstars has led to suggestions they can step in and become the next great pairing, taking over from the longstanding rivalry between Madrid legend Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona captain Lionel Messi.

"They are quality players both of them, just like Messi and Cristiano," Zidane said. "Neymar, all these world class players, they're just like them.

"They're younger, they're demonstrating they are not just players for the future but players for the present."

 

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo will look to inflict more Champions League pain on Porto and Borussia Dortmund travel to Sevilla for the first leg in the round of 16 on Wednesday.

Juve advanced from Group G at a canter, winning five of their six games to finish level on points with Barcelona.

The Serie A champions will be expected to knock Porto out, but Andrea Pirlo will be braced for a stern test in the first leg at Estadio do Dragao.

Sevilla do battle with Dortmund at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan a couple of days after it was announced that Borussia Monchengladbach head coach Marco Rose will take over at the Bundesliga club at the end of the season.

We take a look at the best stats on the two ties courtesy of Opta.

Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo lauded Cristiano Ronaldo's adaptability as the defending Serie A champions beat Roma 2-0 on Saturday.

Ronaldo and an Ibanez own goal saw Juve to victory at Allianz Stadium, where the Italian giants claimed their third successive league victory.

A day after his 36th birthday, Ronaldo opened the scoring when his deflected strike clattered down off the underside of the crossbar in the 22nd minute before Ibanez's 69th-minute own goal put the result beyond doubt.

Ronaldo has been directly involved in 84 goals since his Serie A debut in 2018, scoring 68 goals and providing 16 assists, more than any other player in the competition, while the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has now scored 16 times across 17 league appearances this season.

Pirlo praised Ronaldo's willingness to adapt after Juve beat Roma, telling reporters: "Since the beginning of the season, Cristiano's made himself adaptable to our needs on the pitch.

"In some games he's played more like a proper number nine when we asked our other striker to close down the opposition's playmaker.

"In these games, he can play closer to the penalty area and be more effective in terms of goal scoring.

"He's always adapted to what I've asked him to do this season and therefore I'm very calm about this part of how we play."

Juve are now third in the Serie A standings in pursuit of their 10th consecutive Scudetto.

Pirlo's men are four points behind second-placed Milan – who are due to face Crotone on Sunday – and five adrift of leaders Inter, though Juve have played a game less.

Juve have won six successive games across all competitions, and Pirlo added: "I don't know if it was our best performance this season. For sure we played a great match.

"Especially because after the match we played on Tuesday at San Siro [semi-final first leg against Inter in Coppa Italia]. We had to recover energy even if we rotated many players. The team had spent a lot of mental energy in that match.

"We faced a strong opponent [Roma] that force you to run a lot on the defensive side and I think that especially under this aspect we played a brilliant match tonight."

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated turning 36 in style as his early goal helped Juventus to see off Roma 2-0 in Saturday's Serie A contest.

A day after his 36th birthday, Ronaldo continued his stellar form in an exceptional performance at Allianz Stadium with a fantastic strike to open the scoring.

It was a match of few clear-cut chances – Roma failing to register an attempt on target until the 61st minute – though Ronaldo, who had all of Juve's three efforts, went close to a second when he rattled the crossbar.

A flurry of Roma pressure midway through the second half proved fruitless and, on the counter-attack, Juve had a decisive second when Ibanez turned into his own net.

Ronaldo avoided any risk of going four league games without a goal for the first time since 2017 as he thumped Juve ahead in the 13th minute, dispatching a left-footed snapshot into the right-hand corner.

Bryan Cristante was inches away from restoring parity in spectacular fashion seven minutes later – his wicked volley arrowing just wide.

The woodwork came to Roma's rescue in the 22nd minute, Ronaldo's deflected strike clattering down off the underside of the bar.

Ronaldo almost turned provider with an exquisite cross to Alex Sandro but the full-back was just unable to take it under control, before Pau Lopez denied Juve's rampant number seven.

With the onus on a toothless Roma attack, Juve frustrated their visitors after the restart, retaining 63 per cent possession in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

Wojciech Szczesny was finally called into action just after the hour, easily dealing with Henrikh Mkhitaryan's dipping effort before making a routine stop from Carles Perez's volley.

Yet Roma's comeback hopes were swiftly ended – Ibanez only able to divert Dejan Kulusevski's cutback into Roma's net to seal a Juve win which moved them within five points of leaders Inter.
 

What does it mean? Juve back in the running

Inter beat Fiorentina 2-0 on Friday to move top of Serie A, though Milan will retake pole position if they overcome bottom side Crotone on Sunday.

Juve have a game in hand on both Milan clubs and, with the Bianconeri having kept three successive league clean sheets for the first time under Andrea Pirlo, who also has Ronaldo on top form, you would not bet against them going on to clinch a 10th straight Scudetto.

Age is just a number

In an Instagram post to mark his 36th birthday on Friday, Ronaldo said: "I'm sorry that I can't promise you 20 more years of this."

While two more decades is beyond the reach of even the superhuman Ronaldo, the Portugal captain displayed his remarkable quality in another inspired showing. He has now scored 16 times across 17 Serie A appearances this season, while he has been directly involved in more goals than any other player (84) since making his debut in the competition.

Roma blunted

With Edin Dzeko starting on the bench after failing to secure a move away in the transfer window, Roma lacked a focal point until the forward's introduction just after the hour.

Paulo Fonseca's side had scored seven times in their previous two league outings yet had to wait over an hour for their first attempt on target and never truly came close to testing Szczesny, despite ending with 14 efforts on goal.

What's next?

Juve have a Coppa Italia semi-final second leg coming up on Tuesday, with Pirlo's team holding a 2-1 advantage over Inter. Roma, meanwhile, host Udinese a week on Sunday in their next league game.

Cristiano Ronaldo knows he does not have another 20 years left as a player but promised to give 100 per cent for the rest of his career as he turned 36 on Friday.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo is in his 20th year as a professional footballer yet remains as prolific as ever, scoring 22 goals and supplying four assists in 23 appearances in all competitions for Juventus.

The Portugal captain's eight braces are more than any other player in the top five European leagues and he intends to do his utmost to maintain his incredible levels in the twilight of his career.

In a birthday post on Instagram, Ronaldo wrote: "36 years old, unbelievable! It feels like it all started yesterday, but this journey is already full of adventures and stories to remember by. My first ball, my first team, my first goal... Time flies!

"From Madeira to Lisbon, from Lisbon to Manchester, from Manchester to Madrid, from Madrid to Turin, but above all, from the bottom of my heart to the world... I've given everything I could, I never held back and I've always tried to deliver the best possible version of me.

"In return, you gave me your love and admiration, your presence and your unconditional support. And for that, I'll never be able to thank you enough. I couldn't have done without you.

"As I celebrate my 36th birthday and my 20th year as a professional footballer, I'm sorry that I can't promise you 20 more years of this. But what I can promise you, is that as long as I keep going, you'll never receive less than 100 per cent from me!

"Thank you once again for all your support and for your kind messages and initiatives during this day. It means a lot to me and you all have a special place in my heart."

Juve play Roma in Serie A on Saturday and Ronaldo will be hoping to avoid going four straight league games without a goal for the first time since November 2017 with Real Madrid.

With a double over Inter in the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg, Cristiano Ronaldo took his tally to 22 goals in 23 appearances for Juventus this season.

The Portugal star is the leading goalscorer across all competitions from within Italy's top flight, two above Romelu Lukaku and four clear of Ciro Immobile, the winner of last season's European Golden Shoe.

Not bad for a man who turns 36 on Friday.

Of course, Ronaldo is far from your average goalscorer and few would discount him from continuing to break records even as he approaches his 40th birthday.

He has already made history in his two and a half years in Serie A and will be gunning for more before he leaves Turin.

 

OLD HABITS DIE HARD

Since his €112million move from Real Madrid in 2018, Ronaldo has scored 67 goals in 80 Serie A games, more than any other player in that time (Immobile is next on 64).

His rate of 0.84 goals per game puts him joint-top among players in their 30s to play in Italy's top division since 1994-95, level with Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has 49 in 58 appearances.

In 2019-20, Ronaldo set a new record for goals scored by Serie A stars over 30 as he became the first such player to net at least 30 goals in a season (he finished on 31).

The previous best such figure was 29, achieved by Edin Dzeko for Roma in 2016-17 and Antonio Di Natale in 2009-10. And Ronaldo might just have another milestone set by the Udinese great in his sights.

 

A RECORD FOR THE AGED

There are 14 players in Serie A history to score more goals in their 30s than Ronaldo, and only one of them – Dzeko, who has 78 – is still playing.

Should he stay at Juve, Ronaldo will fancy his chances of becoming only the fifth player to score at least 100 times in the division in his 30s.

Still, the top four are some distance ahead. Roma great Francesco Totti is on 125, revered former Milan striker Gunnar Nordahl scored 137, and top of the tree is Di Natale with a remarkable 162.

It sounds a tall order for even Ronaldo to catch the former Italy striker, who called time on his career in 2016 at the age of 38. However, if he continues scoring at an average of 32 goals per season, he would reach Di Natale's tally in the latter part of the 2023-24 season, when he would have just turned 39.

And would you really bet against him?

Cristiano Ronaldo "proved his worth" in Juventus' 2-1 win over Inter on Tuesday, according to head coach Andrea Pirlo.

Ronaldo was rested for Juve's previous Coppa Italia win – against SPAL last month – but netted a brace in the first leg of the semi-final victory over Inter at San Siro.

The Portuguese star has scored the most braces of players in Europe's top five leagues with eight in all competitions this season.

Pirlo praised Ronaldo, who was replaced by Alvaro Morata with 13 minutes remaining.

"He played an excellent match and proved his worth," Pirlo said.

On substituting Ronaldo, Pirlo added: "He is playing a lot and we have many matches very close to each other.

"Saturday we will have a very important one against Roma, so I thought it would be good for him to rest and recover some energies."

Ronaldo's double came after Lautaro Martinez had opened the scoring for Inter, who beat Juve in Serie A action last month.

Pirlo, whose team won the Supercoppa Italiana against Napoli in January, said his side learned from the league outing against Inter.

"We weren't in the championship match, but it served us as a lesson, because we gathered together and the victory in the Supercoppa made us realise we can compete for every objective. We haven't done anything yet, we just won the first leg," he said.

"We have prepared the game well and if we are focused and have the right attitude it becomes hard for everyone, even though we know that it is not easy to maintain this pace by playing every three days.

"However, the squad is large and there is no problem in alternating players. In the second half we lowered ourselves a bit, also thanks to Inter, but it's normal in the 90 minutes."

Before next week's semi-final second leg, Juve host Roma in Serie A on Saturday.

Antonio Conte muttered to himself and looked rather resigned as Arturo Vidal angrily gestured towards him while being replaced by Christian Eriksen on Tuesday. Perhaps he realised his errors had already done irreparable damage.

Juventus went on to put one foot in the Coppa Italia final with a 2-1 win at Inter in their semi-final first leg, with Conte seemingly made to rue a tactical set-up that invited pressure in the absence of talisman Romelu Lukaku.

While Inter's second-half display in San Siro showed evidence of Conte wising up to his team's problems, it was too little, too late as the Nerazzurri were unable to rescue a game lost in the first half.

A chief component of Inter's struggles here was rooted in last week's quarter-final win over bitter rivals Milan, as Lukaku's much-discussed altercation with Zlatan Ibrahimovic resulted in a yellow card for the Belgian.

The pair went head-to-head in ugly scenes that were accentuated by the lack of a crowd, every word of Ibrahimovic's questionable antagonising audible thanks to the television cameras and microphones.

Whether Lukaku's reaction was justified is a discussion for another day, but beyond doubt is the fact he was sorely missed by Conte's men, whose lack of an out-ball left them without options.

Alexis Sanchez, who ultimately remained with Inter at the end of the transfer window despite links to Roma, was the man chosen to partner Lautaro Martinez and the Chilean initially showed reason for optimism.

After holding the ball up admirably and working space on the break in the ninth minute, Sanchez fed Nicolo Barella up the right flank and his low cross was turned home by Martinez – his shot creeping under the hand of Gianluigi Buffon's hand.

It wasn't the ideal way to celebrate the 43-year-old's 1,100th professional game, but the Inter defence ensured the spotlight wouldn't be on Buffon's error for long.

First, Ashley Young took centre stage a little over 15 minutes later, bizarrely opting to haul back Juan Cuadrado in the box despite Federico Bernardeschi's cross always looking incapable of doing any damage, and Ronaldo slammed the resulting penalty right down the middle.

Ronaldo then capitalised on a mix-up between Alessandro Bastoni and Samir Handanovic, robbing the defender and slotting in from a tight angle outside of the box with the goalkeeper stranded.

Inter dug their own hole with their poor decision-making, and without Lukaku they were without the means to haul themselves out.

Neither Young nor Matteo Darmian on the flanks – the latter in for the absent Achraf Hakimi – could offer any kind of attacking support in the first half, with both failing to deliver a single cross before the interval.

Then, with Sanchez and Martinez largely unable to impose themselves against the physically dominant Merih Demiral and Matthijs de Ligt, Inter's options when looking to move out from the back were minimal.

And that was another issue – in the first half, Inter were very deep and endured great difficulty trying to play through Juve's press. It might have been effective with players potentially trying to get in behind the visitors' defence, but Andrea Pirlo's side subjugated their hosts virtually throughout the opening half.

Conte's tweaks at the break saw Inter's backline move further up the pitch and that certainly seemed to improve their standing in the match – Juve's share of the possession going from 63 per cent in the first half to just 40 in the second.

Similarly, Inter's shot count rocketed from two at half-time to 11 at the end, and, to be fair, Sanchez should have taken one of those when his goal-bound effort was stopped on the line by Demiral.

Additionally, Buffon made amends for his first-half error by making a crucial stop to deny Darmian, but otherwise there were few moments when Juve looked especially worried defensively.

On another day perhaps Inter would have done enough to at least keep themselves on level terms ahead of the second leg, but Conte's negative set-up left them at a disadvantage right from the off.

Lukaku will return for the next game, but Juve's away goals advantage gives them a significant edge – Conte has much work to do.

Cristiano Ronaldo's first-half brace saw Juventus come from behind to claim a 2-1 first-leg win against Inter in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia.

Lautaro Martinez put speculation of a new contract aside to fire Inter in front before Ronaldo emphatically dispatched a 26th-minute penalty.

There was still plenty for Ronaldo to do 10 minutes before the interval when Samir Handanovic charged out to leave his goal unguarded, yet the 35-year-old clipped home with aplomb.

Inter had the better of the second half but were unable to find a response as top scorer Romelu Lukaku served a suspension.

Gianluigi Buffon endured a moment to forget on his 1,100th career appearance as Inter took a ninth-minute lead.

Alexis Sanchez held up play shrewdly for Nicolo Barella, whose measured cross was struck first time by Martinez. Buffon got down in awkward fashion and his touch could not prevent the ball from spinning into his goal.

A VAR review gave Juventus the chance to get back on terms, with referee Gianpaolo Calvarese deciding Ashley Young had impeded Juan Cuadrado enough to award a penalty.

Ronaldo made no mistake, lashing his spot-kick high into the net.

While Handanovic had no chance on that occasion, his inexplicable decision to charge out as Alessandro Bastoni tried to shepherd a hopeful ball away from Ronaldo left the five-time Ballon d'Or winner to slot calmly into an unguarded net.

Young had a drive pushed over by Buffon early in the second half when Juve partially cleared a set-piece, while Handanovic recovered his poise to cleverly keep out a deflected Bernardeschi shot from inside the box.

This was a game where errors continued to enhance the entertainment value. In the 58th minute, a horrible touch from Rodrigo Bentancur coughed up possession to Inter on the edge of the Juve box.

Sanchez looked certain to score, with Buffon stranded, but Merih Demiral made an astonishing goal-line clearance.

Buffon rolled back the years to thwart Matteo Darmian at close quarters following fine work from Sanchez and Martinez, and the latter duo could not fashion an equaliser in Lukaku's absence.

Andrea Pirlo believes Juventus are starting to see the best of Federico Chiesa after he overcame his initial shyness following a loan move from Fiorentina. 

Italy international Chiesa scored his sixth Serie A goal of the season (one coming for Fiorentina) on Saturday as Juve defeated Sampdoria 2-0 at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. 

Aaron Ramsey added the second in stoppage time as Juve made it three consecutive wins against Claudio Ranieri's side without conceding a goal. 

Pirlo is impressed with the impact Chiesa is starting to have on the defending champions but has urged the 23-year-old to add to his goal tally.

"Chiesa is a young player who joined a big club, facing international matches for the first time, and it was a big step up for him, so he was a little shy at first," Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia. 

"He's settled now, gained in confidence and has improved a great deal.

"It's good that he is finishing off the moves that we attack, and he ought to do it more often, making the most of his runs from deep."

Cristiano Ronaldo did not enjoy similar success in front of goal, the game marking the first time he has gone three Serie A matches without finding the back of the net since April 2019.

Pirlo, though, was not too critical of his star man and praised him for his contribution to both goals, the Portuguese star teeing up Alvaro Morata and Juan Cuadrado's assists. 

"Ronaldo gave his contribution again today with his passes for both goals, so the important thing is that the team wins," he added.

Juve have won six of their seven matches across all competitions in 2021 and Pirlo believes his players are starting to hit their stride as they bid to eat into Milan's seven-point lead over them at the Serie A summit.

"When the defence keeps a clean sheet, it also means the midfield and attack have started the press," he said. "We're improving, but can do even better.

"We are starting to find our form and making the movements more automatic, because in the first few games they were practically test runs, as we didn't really have a pre-season training camp.

"It took a little longer than usual, but we're finding our feet now and will keep improving."

Juve face Inter in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final on Tuesday before hosting Roma in Serie A on Saturday. 

Cristiano Ronaldo's behaviour on his days off is not Juventus's responsibility, according to Andrea Pirlo, after the five-time Ballon d'Or winner allegedly broke coronavirus travel restrictions.

Valle d'Aosta police are investigating whether Ronaldo failed to adhere to Italy's strict COVID-19 protocols by travelling to the area from Piedmont to go skiing with his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez, as part of her birthday celebrations this week.

Both Valle d'Aosta and Piedmont are listed as "orange zone" regions, with travel between such locations prohibited.

Ronaldo, who tested positive for coronavirus last October, may face a fine if found guilty.

"Cristiano Ronaldo had a day off and on your days off you are free to do what you want," head coach Pirlo told a news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Sampdoria.

"When they are here they are under my control, but outside of here they are free citizens and can take their own actions."

Weston McKennie has become one of Juve's key performers this season since joining from Schalke, scoring four times across all competitions from midfield since the start of December.

Pirlo believes the 22-year-old United States international has plenty of room for further improvement.

"He is so young he can improve everywhere," he said.

"We were the fastest to sign him in Germany and we are so happy to have him with us.

"He is humble and very keen to improve, especially from a technical point of view. I mean, he is a bit rough in ball control, in his body movements, but he can improve quickly.

"He is a healthy kid, he knows he is not done, he is just at the beginning and being aware of this is already a good starting point."

Pirlo has a clean bill of health, with the exception of forward Paulo Dybala, who is still nursing a knee injury.

Federico Chiesa completed the scoring in the 4-0 Coppa Italia win over SPAL and will start after shaking off an ankle problem.

Alvaro Morata put Juve in front from the penalty spot in midweek - his 13th goal of the campaign - and is ready to go again having been compromised by groin pain of late.

"He played last time and we managed to save him some minutes, so tomorrow he will be at the top of his game," Pirlo added.

"We know him well, he dwells so much on enthusiasm and that is what we need to give him back.

"But he has done well, he knows he is very important for Juventus, so I am more than convinced he will go on at his best."

Juventus will take on SPAL in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia on Wednesday without Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese forward came off the bench in the previous round, helping Juve edge past Genoa after extra time, but has not been included in a 23-man squad named by Andrea Pirlo. Paulo Dybala and Rodrigo Bentancur have also been left out.

Ronaldo, who has managed 20 goals in all competitions this season, has been given a break ahead of Saturday's Serie A trip to Sampdoria.

With their leading scorer absent, Alvaro Morata looks set to lead the line. Alex Sandro could also feature for the hosts, the Brazilian defender available again after recovering from coronavirus.

The Bianconeri host their second-tier opponents looking to extend their unbeaten streak at home in the cup competition; they have not lost in their 12 previous ties at their own ground.

A victory for the hosts in Turin will set up a semi-final clash with Inter, who knocked out rivals Milan in a feisty derby at San Siro on Tuesday thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Christian Eriksen.

Cristiano Ronaldo has not yet broken Josef Bican's all-time goalscoring record in official matches, according to the Czech FA.

Superstar Juventus forward Ronaldo scored his 760th competitive goal in the 2-0 Supercoppa Italiana victory over Napoli on Wednesday.

It was reported by some that Ronaldo had surpassed Bican's benchmark, while others stated he had equalled it and alternative sources claimed the legendary Rapid Vienna and Slavia Prague striker actually netted 805 - FIFA itself uses this number as an estimate.

Confused yet? Well, this wonderfully convoluted tale is complicated further by the fact Brazil legends Pele and Romario each claim to have scored 1,000 career goals – though both are disputed by official sources.

And to really compound the matter, the bright minds of the History and Statistics Committee of the Czech FA have been delving deep into the archives to reach the conclusion that Bican – who played internationally for Austria and Czechoslovakia – actually scored 821 goals, meaning Ronaldo would still need another 62.

Probably best we leave the explanation for this one to Jaroslav Kolar, the head of the committee…

"Who is the best goalscorer in football history? Josef Bican or Cristiano Ronaldo?" Was the question posed by Kolar on the official account for the Czech Republic national team.

"A simple question but a complicated answer." (We quite agree...)

Anyway, he added: "Mainly because from the whole amount of Bican's goals, you have to just pick up the official ones, which is complicated. 

"Our History and Statistics Committee of [the] Czech FA started to deal with this problem. We based our research on statistics from prestigious international statistical websites that state 805 goals with notice that goals scored by Bican in the Czech second division for Hradec Kralove are missing. 

"We managed to find them - by the way, it's 53 goals in 26 games and we also double checked every detail about Bican's league, cup and international matches. 

"After that, we came out with the official number of Josef Bican's scored goals. On behalf of the History and Statistics Committee of [the] Czech FA, we can proclaim Josef Bican scored 821 goals in official matches. 

"It means that Cristiano Ronaldo is not the best goalscorer in international history yet, and he has to work more to break this record."

So, that settles that argument then!

Or does it? Quite honestly... we have no idea.  

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