Out-of-form Ronaldo fails to impress

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE PRESSURE of fame and fortune can weigh heavily even on the broadest shoulders. Ronaldo, fresh from his lacklustre performance in the World Cup final, has started the new season in much the same bewildering form.

Suspension stopped him playing any part in Internazionale's uninspiring stalemate with newly promoted Cagliari last weekend, but on Wednesday the Brazilian continued as he had left off in France and suffered the ignominy of being substituted in the Champions' League 2-0 defeat by Real Madrid.

Luigi Simone, the Internazionale coach, will be hoping for a better showing from the pounds 18m striker in his first Serie A match of the season against Piacenza. The Brazilian is set to be joined in attack by Roberto Baggio, who was on the bench against Madrid.

Juventus will also be looking to improve on their midweek Champions' League performance, a 2-2 with the Turkish champions Galatasaray in Turin, as they return to domestic duty against Internazionale's tormentors, Cagliari.

The Juventus coach, Marcello Lippi, will be hoping his men make a better start against the Sardinians than Internazionale did last Sunday, trailing 2-0 at the break before fighting back for a 2-2 draw. Lippi should have his French midfielder Zinedine Zidane back from the knee injury he sustained last Sunday. The Uruguayan Paolo Montero will also be back from injury while Alessandro Del Piero, who set up both goals on Wednesday, and Filippo Inzaghi, who scored one of them, will lead the attack.

Milan, who top the table, albeit after only one game, travel to newly promoted Salernitana. The Milan captain, Paolo Maldini, said: "When you have to rebuild a team, it's almost better to be out of European competition. We've got to create a new way of playing, find a new balance.

"We kept our cool after losing to Torino in the Italian Cup, and we kept working at it. By doing that, we've got our enthusiasm back. Now we all believe in Milan. I think we can fight for the title."

Fiorentina go to Vicenza without this week's two-goal Uefa Cup hero Edmundo. The Brazilian striker picked up a two-match ban after being sent off for kicking an Empoli player last weekend in an off-the-ball incident.

Christian Vieri returns to partner the Chilean Marcelo Salas in the Lazio attack for their match against Bari, while the Spanish midfielder Ivan De La Pena, the Croatian striker Alen Boksic and the defenders Paolo Negro and Alessandro Nesta are out through injury. Bari, 1-0 winners against Venezia last week, are still without their injured South African striker Phil Masinga.

Roma, boosted by a 2-0 Uefa Cup win away to the Danish side Silkeborg, are at full strength and will pose problems for an Empoli side missing the suspended defender Pietro Fusco.

In the other matches, Parma face Venezia, Udinese travel to Bologna and Sampdoria host Perugia.

Franz Beckenbauer could assist the new national coach, Erich Ribbeck, in Germany's qualifying campaign for the 2000 European Championship. The German Soccer Federation (DFB) chairman, Egidius Braun, proposed the appointment of Beckenbauer as national team director at a meeting of the DFB's executive committee.

As team director, Beckenbauer would act as an advisor to Ribbeck and his assistant, Uli Stielike. The pair face their first test when Germany visit Turkey for a European Championship qualifier on 10 October.