After scoring a late penalty equalizer to gain Juventus a first-leg draw against AC Milan in a Coppa Italia semifinal match at mid-week, five-time Ballon D'or winner Cristiano Ronaldo will take a seat on Sunday when his team faces newly promoted — and likely relegation-bound — Brescia Calcio on Sunday, in a match that will be nationally televised in the United States.
According to a Bleacher Report account, Ronaldo was omitted from Coach Maurizio Sarri's official 20-man squad for the home match against the 19th-place side. With 20 league goals, Ronaldo currently ranks second in Serie A to Lazio's Ciro Immobile (25).
But Ronaldo is not reported to be suffering from an injury. Instead, Sarri simply wants him to rest — after the global superstar turned 35-years-old on February 5. In fact, his absence from Sunday's showdown will mark the first game all season in which Ronaldo has been omitted for the sake of rest.
Even with Ronaldo's absence, the game appears to offer a golden opportunity for Juve to reclaim the top spot in Serie A. Brescia Calcio come in seven points from safety, after winning promotion by topping Serie B last season. Meanwhile, Leaders Inter Milan — who enter Sunday level on points at 54 with the Bianconeri — must take on third-place Lazio, who sit just one point behind the leaders.
A win for Juventus coupled with an Inter-Lazio draw, or Lazio victory, gives the defending champions sole possession of first place as they find themselves in a nail-biting battle to claim their ninth straight Italian title.
Oddsmakers see an easy win for Juventus. According to odds published by 101 Great Goals, the hosts are massive favorites at 1/6 odds. In other words, to win $100 on a Juve victory, a bettor would need to put up a wager of $600.
On the other hand, a $100 bet on Brescia would bring back a $1,400 profit, in the unlikely event of a startling upset victory by the visitors, due to the 14/1 odds against them. Odds of a draw in the match have been set at 7/1.
Brescia could perhaps draw some hope from the fact that Juventus has slumped recently in the league, dropping decisions to SS Napoli and Hellas Veronas, sandwiched around a win over Fiorentina, according to Soccerway. But Brescia have lost eight straight in Serie A.
When the two sides met on September 24 on Brescia's home ground, the underdogs got off to a surprising early lead on a fourth-minute goal by Alfredo Donnarumma. But an own goal before halftime by Venezuelan Jhon Carlos Chancellor, followed by a 63rd-minute strike by Bosnia and Herzegovina international Miralem Pjanić gave the champions a win.
The Juventus vs. Brescia Calcio match kicks off at 3 p.m. Central European Time at Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy, on Sunday. In the United States, where the cable network ESPN2 will televise the game nationwide, that start time will be 9 a.m. EST, 6 a.m. PST.