Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to the Juventus line-up for this evening’s opening game of the new Serie A season at Parma.
Ronaldo has been struggling with fatigue to his left adductor in recent weeks, and missed Juventus’ last two pre-season friendlies. However, these absences were more of a precaution above anything else.
Stand-in boss Giovanni Martusciello, who’s filling in for an unwell Maurizio Sarri, has confirmed this to be the case by starting Ronaldo.
The former Empoli manager, though, has sprung a surprise in naming Gonzalo Higuain as his main centre-forward. Of course, the Argentine’s future remains doubtful after returning from some forgettable loan spells at AC Milan and Chelsea.
But vice-president Pavel Nedved rose to Higuain’s defence during Friday’s post-match conference.
“Higuain is one of the best strikers in the world,” said Nedved on the club’s website.
“He knows Sarri well and has had a great pre-season, we are happy that he is with us.”
Ronaldo and Douglas Costa, whose future has also been under debate this summer, will partner Higuain in a 4-3-3 formation.
One of the biggest shocks at the Ennio Tardini Stadium, though, is Martusciello’s decision to leave out new signings Adrien Rabiot, Matthijs de Ligt and Danilo.
Although Nedved had warned reporters that Rabiot may need some more time to reach match-fitness. The last time he’d actually played competitive match came last December before Paris Saint-Germain suspended him.
“Rabiot didn’t surprise me,” said Nedved.
“We had looked at him for a long time and I believe that he will be an important player. He hasn’t played for a lot of months so will need some time.”
Martusciello has instead given Miralem Pjanic, Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira the nod as his three midfielders. Meanwhile, Gianluigi Buffon will also sit on the bench in favour of number one goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
The Parma and Juventus match will start at 18:00 (CET).
— JuventusFC (@juventusfc) August 24, 2019