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Monday , September 16 2019

Ronaldo turns to Juventus challenge after FIFA ‘snub’

Under-pressure Roma looking for boost

Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (right) vies with Frosinone Polish defender Bartosz Salamon (left) during the Italian Serie A football match between Frosinone and Juventus Turin on Sept 23 at the Benito-Stirpe Stadium in Frosinone. (AFP)

MILAN, Sept 25, (AFP): Cristiano Ronaldo turns his focus back to Juventus’s quest for a treble this season on Wednesday after losing out in the FIFA’s best player of the year award. Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo skipped the awards ceremony in London on Monday as his former Real Madrid teammate Luka Modric beat him for the award.

The 33-year-old Portuguese star also lost out to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah for the Puskas Award for the best goal. He had been nominated for his superb overhead bicycle kick for Real Madrid against Juventus in last season’s Champions League quarter-final, which even drew a standing ovation from Juventus supporters in Turin. Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri had backed Ronaldo – who has scored three goals in his last two league games – for the award, as he led the way in the Champions League with 15 goals to help Real to a third straight title.

“With no offence to Luka Modric, I’d give the Ballon d’Or to Ronaldo for what he did last season. I think he deserves it,” said Allegri. The Italian champions face a heavy week in Turin with three games in their Allianz Stadium in the space of seven days. After Wednesday’s game against 18th-placed Bologna, who shocked Roma 2-0 at the weekend, Juventus play Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli in a top-of-the table clash on Saturday.

Juventus have had a perfect start to the season with five wins and 15 points – three points ahead of Napoli. Allegri’s side also play Swiss club Young Boys in the Champions League a week on Tuesday, a game which Ronaldo will miss after his controversial sending off against Valencia in Spain. Napoli host promoted Parma, before their trip to Turin, with an eye on their Champions League game against Liverpool in Naples. “We won there (Juventus) last season and still finished second,” said Napoli striker Lorenzo Insigne. “If we don’t win the midweek game with Parma, then the result with Juve is irrelevant, so we have to take it one at a time.”

Under-pressure Roma host promoted Frosinone looking for a boost after slipping to 14th with their weekend defeat in Bologna. Coach Eusebio Di Francesco has reportedly been given a week to save his job, starting against the newcomers from outside Rome, before the city derby against Lazio at the weekend. Frosinone are second from the bottom of the table with 12 goals conceded, including two to Juventus last weekend. “At the end of the year when the points are counted the matches like the one in Frosinone you don’t remember immediately, but you know how important they were,” said Allegri.

Roma then host Czech club Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League next week, having lost their opener to holders Real Madrid. Meanwhile, Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi is facing a doping ban after testing positive for the banned substance dorzolamide, media reports said Tuesday.

Rossi, who has played 30 times for the Azzurri in a career blighted by knee injuries, tested positive following an Italian league match between his team at the time, Genoa, and Benevento on May 12. Dorzolamide is commonly found in eye drops. Its use is permitted if the athlete obtains a therapeutic use exemption, although if not applied to the eyes, it could be used as a diuretic.

The 31-year-old Rossi, formerly of Manchester United and Fiorentina but currently without a club, has denied using eye drops, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport daily. Eyedrops containing “dorzolamide and brinzolamide, when administered topically in the eye, are not prohibited,” according to the World Anti-Doping Agency. It added: “The rationale behind this exception is these drugs do not have a diuretic effect when topically applied.” Rossi now faces a one-year ban by the Italian anti-doping agency (Nado), according to reports. Gazzetta said Rossi’s case is scheduled to be heard on Oct 1.

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