Ronaldo rests as Juventus absorb 1st Serie A loss

MILAN, Italy – Cristiano Ronaldo was rested and Juventus crashed to their first Serie A defeat of the season against Genoa, 0-2, on Sunday, March 17. 

Ronaldo had fired Juventus into the Champions League quarterfinals with a comeback victory over Atletico Madrid last Tuesday.

Without him, the team slumped to defeat but still remained comfortably on track for an eighth consecutive league title.

Juventus's lead was cut to 15 points by Napoli who got back winning, prevailing 4-2 against Udinese after goalkeeper David Ospina collapsed on the pitch after suffering a head injury.

The on-loan Arsenal goalkeeper was later given the all-clear following a CT scan at a Naples hospital.

Juventus had won 24 of their 27 previous matches in Serie A this season with 3 draws, including a 1-1 stalemate against Genoa in Turin.

"It's not a tragedy, but I'm sorry because we wanted to remain unbeaten," said Allegri.

"You can't play all the games at your maximum. The Champions League match certainly weighed heavy."

It was the first league defeat for Allegri's side since April 2018 against Napoli, and first away since losing at Sampdoria in November 2017.

'Time to unplug' 

The Italian champions had already been beaten this season by Atalanta in the Coppa Italia and lost in the Champions League to Young Boys in the group stage and Atletico Madrid in the last-16 first leg.

"The defeat could do us good, because maybe we thought we already had the league in our pockets and instead we still have to get 5 victories," continued Allegri.

"Much like the Coppa Italia defeat to Atalanta, we picked the right game to lose, because it's just before the break for international duty, so we have time to unplug and rest."

Ex-Juventus midfielder Stefano Sturaro – playing his first game after 10 months out with a tendon injury – scored just two minutes after coming off the bench. Another substitute Goran Pandev sealed victory for Genoa with 10 minutes to go.

"I'm happy for him (Sturaro), because he suffered a lot and today he changed the game," said Allegri. – Rappler.com