Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo will miss his side’s crucial trip to Atalanta on Sunday with a thigh injury, with his coach Andrea Pirlo insisting the setback comes from playing too many matches.

Juve is 12 points behind leader Inter Milan with eight games left, and with a 10th successive Scudetto seemingly out of reach it will be aiming to hold on to a top-four spot in the race for the Champions League qualification places.

Race for Champions League spots hots up in Serie A

The third-placed champion travels to Atalanta in fourth on Sunday just one point ahead of Gian Piero Gasperini’s side and three clear of fifth-placed Napoli, with the clash now seemingly more difficult given it is missing Serie A’s top goalscorer.

“There is a big absence and it is Cristiano,” Pirlo told a news conference. “He has not been able to recover from a thigh problem. We decided to let him…

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