TURIN (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive again for coronavirus on the eve of Juventus’s Champions League clash against his great rival Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, according to media reports in Italy and Portugal.
Portuguese TVI reported that Ronaldo “has once against tested positive for Covid-19” following a swab carried out by Juventus.
The 35-year-old is now awaiting the result of a UEFA test which, if also positive, would rule him out of the Group G game in Turin.
Ronaldo first tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago while playing with Portugal, and has been in self-isolation since returning to Italy.
According to TV1, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has tested positive 18 times.
Ronaldo needed to return a negative test, 24 hours before the game to be allowed to play, according to UEFA rules.
Juventus only confirm if a player has recovered, with Sky Sport Italia and Gazzetta Dello Sport reporting that Ronaldo will miss the Barcelona game.
“Ronaldo had a test like everyone else, this evening (Tuesday) we will have the definitive result,” coach Andrea Pirlo told a press conference earlier Tuesday.
“For now it’s all on the high seas, when the final result comes everything will be clearer.
“Depending on the result, we’ll see what we do. It’s not easy to play an entire game after 15 days of inactivity.” Ronaldo, who has no symptoms, has missed three games including his side’s 2-0 Champions League win at Dynamo Kiev last week.
The clash would be the first between Ronaldo and Messi since the Portugal forward left Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018.
“For 15 years, Messi and Ronaldo have done great things,” said former Italy and Juventus midfielder Pirlo.
“For the first time, I’ll be taking on Messi as a coach, I’ll treat him with the enormous respect that he deserves.” Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman added: “We always want the best to be on the pitch, and Ronaldo is a great player.
“I don’t know if he will be in condition to play, that’s not my problem. But if Ronaldo is there, it is one more reason for us to be ready.” Koeman, like Pirlo, has taken over as coach this season, with the teams top of Group G after winning their opening fixtures.
But the Dutch manager has been under pressure after a 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid at the weekend followed a 1-0 loss to Getafe, the first time in four years the Catalan giants have suffered consecutive defeats in the league.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu also resigned on Tuesday along with his board of directors, following mounting pressure from fans and his public falling out with Messi.
‘Not a decisive game’
Ronaldo and Messi now look set to meet again in the reverse fixture at the Nou Camp on December 8.
Messi, 33, has featured in four victorious campaigns for Barcelona, while Ronaldo has won the Champions League five times, four with Real Madrid and once with Manchester United.
Messi has six Ballon d’Or titles with Ronaldo claiming five. However Ronaldo has 130 Champions League goals to Messi’s 116.
“It’s clear that any team would miss a player like Cristiano,” said Brazil defender Danilo at the pre-match press conference.
“But we have faith in every player on the team. We have people who want to do well and help us have a great match.” Messi has won 16 of their 35 encounters to Ronaldo’s 10, with the remaining nine ending in draws.
The pair have only met five times in Champions League games, most recently in the semi-final in 2011.
Pirlo also has defensive worries with captain Giorgio Chiellini, and Matthijs De Ligt out but fellow centreback Leonardo Bonucci’s thigh strain will be evaluated on Wednesday morning.
“These are the matches that everyone would like to play. We have this opportunity and we can’t wait to test ourselves against Barcelona,” said Pirlo.
“It’s not a decisive game, but we still want to see what our value is.” Argentina forward Paulo Dybala remains “a bit tired” after playing for 90 minutes in his first match in over three months last Sunday against Verona.
“It’s normal after the first game as a starter. He’ll have time to recover and play tomorrow night.”