Sports, Football

Ronaldo-less Juve face Kiev

Published : 19 Oct 2020 07:59 PM

Serie A champions Juventus undertake the long journey to Ukraine, as they meet Dynamo Kiev in their opening Champions League Group G game on Tuesday, report agencies.

The Bianconeri are, of course, without Cristiano Ronaldo for now and failed to overcome lowly Crotone at the weekend without their talisman. Dynamo, meanwhile, won again to top the Ukrainian Premier League by two points.

Juve manager Andrea Pirlo's first Champions League game in charge sees him come head-to-head with veteran coach Mircea Lucescu – the very man who launched his stellar playing career, some 25 years ago.

Pirlo made his Serie A debut aged 16 for Lucescu's Brescia in 1995. The Romanian coach worked extensively in Italy, having spells at Pisa, Reggiana and Inter Milan, where he also briefly managed his opposite number.

Like the rapidly-promoted Pirlo, Lucescu is also settling into a surprising new role. The 75-year-old former Shakhtar Donetsk coach - who won eight league titles, six cups and the 2008-09 UEFA Cup in 12 years there - controversially returned to Ukraine this summer to take charge of their bitterest rivals Dynamo.Without Cristiano Ronaldo and Weston McKennie (both in quarantine), Pirlo could again rely on Chiesa and Morata in attack, with Kulusevski in support.

Speculation persists about the future of Paulo Dybala, as the much-coveted Argentinian forward was left on the bench against Crotone, despite recovering from gastroenteritis last week.

Arthur and Rodrigo Bentancur should start in midfield, with Juan Cuadrado - dropped at the weekend - on the wing.

Wojciech Szczesny is likely to resume in goal, with Gianluigi Buffon rested. Danilo, Leonardo Bonucci and the returning Giorgio Chiellini should make up the back three.