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Pirlo announces plans to rest Ronaldo this season

Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrea Pirlo
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Andrea Pirlo announced plans to rest Cristiano Ronaldo at select points this season following Juventus’ opening-night victory.

Ronaldo delivered another superb performance on Sunday night to help Juventus defeat Sampdoria 3-0 in the opening game of their Serie A campaign, proving to be a constant threat throughout.

He even assisted young Dejan Kulusevski to break the deadlock inside 13 minutes at the Allianz Stadium. Leonardo Bonucci later prodded in a second in the 78th-minute before Ronaldo added a late third.

The Portuguese star’s goal was more than deserved, having come close on a couple of occasions. He even sent a thunderous strike right into the crossbar and struck a great free-kick straight at Audero.

Nonetheless, Cristiano ended the night with a goal and assist to seal a comfortable debut win for Pirlo as the new Juventus manager.

But while delighted to seal such an emphatic win at the first time of asking, Pirlo acknowledged the need to monitor a 35-year-old Ronaldo carefully by saving him for bigger games; where he is truly needed.

On how he plans to use the five-time Ballon d’Or winner this season, the Bianconeri boss told Sky Sport Italia: “We are thinking about and talked it over.

“He’s not tired yet, as we just started, but when we come up to less important games, we’ll try to give him a rest.

“He’s a very intelligent guy who knows his body very well, so he is aware of when it’s time to rest or to step it up. When he will play depends on him.”

Pirlo used a 3-4-1-2 formation for his first game in the Juve dugout, handing debuts to youngsters Weston McKennie and Kulusevski. Another young player in Gianluca Frabotta, meanwhile, lined up as a wing-back.

The Italian legend appears to have settled on adopting a stylish brand of football that sees his players pass the ball around, with Juventus completing 90% of their 728 passes.

“It will take time to get all the various ways of playing together,” said Pirlo on his system.

“I don’t want to just copy and paste anyone’s ideas, I have my own ideas, and want to adapt from the teams that inspired me.

“We haven’t had much time, as the pre-season started late and then they were away for international duty. We had only one friendly too, but it was a good debut and we’ll keep working on it.”

Juventus will next face AS Roma at the Olympic Stadium next Sunday for their second game of the 2020/21 Serie A campaign.