Cristiano Ronaldo expected to play for Juventus on Saturday
MILAN — Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Juventus started with a selfie, included a goal in a practice game, and will likely end up with a starring role on Saturday.
Ronaldo, who has been accused of rape and is facing a civil lawsuit in the United States, had the weekend off while his Italian team was idle during a break for international matches.
Normally the star of his national team, the 33-year-old Ronaldo was left off Portugal’s squad for games against Poland and Scotland. The team won both anyway.
But he’s back now, and is expected to be in the lineup when Juventus hosts Genoa in Serie A.
On Tuesday, Ronaldo posted a selfie on social media of himself driving his car, with his sunglasses perched on his nose. He then scored in Wednesday’s practice match against fourth-division club Chieri.
In typical fashion, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner accelerated to beat several opponents before looking up briefly and shooting into the back of the net.
Ronaldo was also involved in other chances, using his trademark step-over moves to befuddle defenders.
Ronaldo last played against Udinese nearly two weeks ago, scoring a goal in his team’s 2-1 victory.
“I see Cristiano as being serene, even though he’s not going through a great moment because of everything that is happening off the field,” Juventus teammate Andrea Barzagli said last week.
“Ronaldo is a great professional and he’s showing that, as he did at Udine, where he scored a great goal. And we hope that in the future he will bring us these trophies that he has already won and many of us haven’t.”
One title Ronaldo has but many of teammates don’t is the Champions League. Ronaldo won it once with Manchester United in 2008 and four times with Real Madrid, including the last three years.
After facing Genoa, Juventus will head to Ronaldo’s old home of Old Trafford to face Man United in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Ronaldo has been accused of rape by Kathryn Mayorga, who says he assaulted her in Las Vegas in 2009. The 34-year-old Mayorga has filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada state court seeking money from Ronaldo and a court order to void a non-disclosure agreement the court filing acknowledges she signed when she accepted $375,000 in 2010 to keep quiet.
Las Vegas police also reopened a criminal sexual assault investigation at her request.
The Associated Press typically does not name people who say they are victims of sex crimes, but Mayorga gave consent through her lawyers to make her name public.
Ronaldo’s attorney, Peter S. Christiansen, has denied wrongdoing by Ronaldo, branding documents that led to media reports about the rape claim “complete fabrications” and asserting that the encounter in a Las Vegas hotel was consensual.
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