Soccer putting the right foot forward
PM

London

First Germany, then Spain and Italy: European football is gradually gaining ground. But with the return to the lawns this weekend of the two superstars, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the football is about to take a giant step towards normalcy.

In two matches, there will be 11 Ballons d'Or before the eyes of football fans, weaning since early March and the interruption of competitions in the face of the progression of the coronavirus.

As of Friday, it is Cristiano Ronaldo and his five trophies who will resume with a semi-final return of the Italian Cup between his Juventus and AC Milan (1-1 to go).

And the next Saturday, Lionel Messi, six times crowned, will take over by going to Mallorca with Barcelona, ​​current La Liga leader.

But the Argentinian genius almost missed the meeting. The Barça captain (33 years old on June 24) indeed missed two collective training sessions last week, Wednesday and Friday, and contented himself with individual indoor work.

On Friday, Barça however extinguished the doubts, speaking of a simple contracture in the right quadriceps. "His problem is minor, the situation is under control, he is perfectly fine and will have no problems," said the coach of the Catalan club Quique Setién on Sunday on Movistar +.

Monday, Messi returned to the group for the collective session and he is well suited to play the first game of recovery of Barça, Saturday at the relegation Mallorca.

"He's fine. He felt a little bit of discomfort, but it had to be taken care of, because if you force yourself and you have to stop playing for two weeks, you miss four games," said Setién on Monday.

The post-pandemic program is in fact overloaded for the Barcelonians, with another 11 league matches to be played by July 19, then the Champions League, interrupted after a 1-1 draw in Naples in the round of 16 first leg.

The menu is even heavier for Ronaldo and Juventus: before finding Lyon in the eighth return of C1 (1-0 defeat in the first leg), the "Old Lady" will play 12 Serie A matches and this Italian Cup which inaugurates the return of "calcio", more than three months after a championship match between Sassuolo and Brescia.

The Juventus-AC Milan poster on Friday will be preceded by a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the disease (more than 34,000 in Italy) and applause in thanks to the nursing staff.

If Messi has had a few glitches of health, and if Milan side Ibrahimovic will be forfeited because of an injury to the right calf, Ronaldo is him in great shape.

And Juve is obviously counting on him to go and find a place in the final, scheduled for Wednesday in Rome against Naples or Inter Milan. Already in the first leg, it was the Portuguese who had scored in the last moments the penalty of equalisation Turin.

After being confined to his home in Madeira, Ronaldo found Turin in early May and resumed his life as a champion, between applied training and family photos on Instagram.

Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo on May 19, 2020 leaving the Juventus training center in Turin.

"Physically, Ronaldo is fine. He misses the sensations on the pitch and it makes sense. But what he shows in training is positive and that's very good, because our goals for the next three months go through him ", explained his trainer Maurizio Sarri this week.

Juve captain Giorgio Chiellini said nothing else in an interview with Corriere dello Sport on Tuesday: "When you have a player like that, you play for him, there's no point in hiding it," said the Italian defender.

Chiellini also recalled the weight of the arrival of the former Madrid, including for a club as important as Juventus.

"The first year was an incredible + boost +. God came, one of the gods of football. It was like that for Pelé and Maradona, it's the same with Messi and Cristiano."

This weekend, the football gods are back.

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