Ronaldo benched for crucial Juventus clash

Cristiano Ronaldo has been benched by Juventus ahead of their match against Bologna as the Turin-based side seeks to clinch a Champions League spot.

Juventus sit on fifth place in the Serie A standings going into Sunday’s season finale. With 75 points, they need to win and hope that either third-place AC Milan or fourth-place Napoli drop points.

Ronaldo is not reported to be injured, so the shock move seems to be tactical by Juve boss Andrea Pirlo, who has been under pressure in his first year as manager. Ronaldo started in Juventus’ midweek 2-1 win over Atalanta in the Coppa Italia final.

Going into Sunday’s final round of Serie A action, league champions Internazionale and second-place Atalanta had already qualified for Europe’s biggest club competition next season. Atalanta play AC Milan in Sunday’s other marquee matchup, while Napoli takes on Hellas Verona.

The top four teams will go to the Champions League while the fifth-placed side will drop to the Europa League.

Portuguese star Ronaldo, 36, has one year remaining on his contract at Juventus but has been linked with a departure should they fail to qualify for the Champions League. He has scored 36 goals across all competitions for Juventus this season, and has 101 overall since joining from Real Madrid in 2018.

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