Maurizio Sarri Talks Cristiano Ronaldo Fitness, Calls Paulo Dybala 'World-Class'

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 27, 2019

Juventus' Italian coach Maurizio Sarri (L) gives instructions to Juventus' Argentine forward Paulo Dybala during the Italian Serie A football match Inter vs Juventus on October 6, 2019 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri has provided a positive update on Cristiano Ronaldo's fitness. He also couldn't believe "world-class" Paulo Dybala had the audacity to shoot for his match-winning goal against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. 

A knee injury meant Ronaldo, 34, was absent from Juve's squad on Saturday when they needed two late goals to win 3-1 at Atalanta and maintain their one-point lead at the top of Serie A.

The Portuguese returned to play 90 minutes against old rivals Atletico, and Sarri told reporters after the 1-0 win: "I haven't spoken to him yet about the pain in his knee, but he looked to be in good shape, as in the final stages he was tracking back, fighting hard and helping out in defence."

The Bianconeri guaranteed a first-place finish in UEFA Champions League Group D after sealing their fourth win of this stage, moving six points clear at the summit with one match remaining.

However, it was Dybala who stole the headlines at the Allianz Stadium following his decisive free-kick from an impossible-looking angle (U.S. and UK viewers only):

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It was a goal that had Sarri initially questioning his star forward, only to eat his words. 

Per Goal's Sacha Pisani, Sarri said: "Dybala scored a goal that nobody could have advised him to do.

"The first thing that a coach says in that situation is: 'What the f--k are you shooting from over there?' And therefore what he did was extraordinary.

"The applause was owed to him, for the performance but also for the technical skill which was extraordinary."

That was the second winner Dybala has struck in the space of three games for the Turin titans, while he also bagged their third against Atalanta to help solidify that result.

Sarri couldn't help but marvel at La Joya's latest feat and said: "Dybala is world-class, in a very positive period of form, so right now he is making the difference."

Dybala, 26, struggled to shine consistently at times under Sarri's managerial predecessor, Massimiliano Allegri, whose tactics didn't always work to accommodate the Argentinian attacker.

He has scored seven goals and recorded three assists in 16 appearances across all competitions this season. That's just three goals fewer (and one assist more) than he registered in 42 total appearances last season.

Sarri's belief is paying dividends, and commentator Adam Summerton said the Bianconeri dodged a bullet by keeping hold of the former Palermo ace:

Dybala is still a long way from matching the career-best tally of 26 goals he scored during the 2017-18 campaign, though it seems his second season playing alongside Ronaldo will bear more fruit.

Both players will hope to be fully fit for Sunday when Serie A leaders Juve host 14th-place Sassuolo.