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Tight security as Cristiano Ronaldo makes Serie A debut



Cristiano Ronaldo makes his eagerly -awaited Serie A debut for Juventus on Saturday amid the tightest security and excitement the Italian city of Verona has seen since a concert by Robbie Williams at Chievo ’ s Bentegodi Stadium last year .Reigning champions Juventus face Chievo in their Serie A opener at 6 : 00 pm ( 1600 GMT ) in the small northeastern Italian city famed as the setting for Shakespeare ’ s “ Romeo and Juliet ” .

Ronaldo , the 33 – year -old Portugal superstar , joined from Real Madrid last month in a deal worth 100 million euros ( $ 114 . 5 million ) .

Thousands of fans and the world ’ s media have been pouring into the town , which has a population of 262 , 000 , ahead of the first game of the season .

Anti – terrorism measures have been put in place around the stadium which has been closed off to traffic with 32 , 000 spectators expected in addition to hundreds of journalists and television crews from around the globe .

Ronaldo ’ s Serie A debut has smashed Chievo ’ s record for ticket sales , generating over one million euros .
“ New challenge , ” tweeted Ronaldo , who was Real Madrid ’ s all – time top goalscorer with 451 goals , of which 311 came in La Liga .

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He will looking to add to the league and European titles he won with both Manchester United and Real Madrid .

The five – time Ballon d ’ Or winner scored in his two warm -up friendlies for Juventus but did not travel with the team to the United States .

“ It ’ s going to be an exciting season , there are many top players in Serie A and we have one of them in Cristiano Ronaldo — the best in the world , ” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri .

“ Players like Ronaldo are different from all the others : it shows in what he has won , he is a stimulus for everyone. ”

But Allegri warned his team not to rely too much on Ronaldo as they target an eighth straight Serie A title , and the Champions League.

“ Every year , Juventus plays to win all the trophies available , and in the past four years we have twice come close to winning all the trophies which we have competed for , and this year we ’ ll try again.

“ It ’ s my fifth year at the club , progress has been made, the quality of players has improved , as has our confidence at European level . You never know — this could be our year to win the Champions League, but first we need to get past the group stage and then we ’ ll see where we are in March . ”

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“ We have to keep our feet on the ground . ”

( AFP )