Cristiano Ronaldo to kickstart his Juventus career as champions open Serie A campaign against Chievo

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Cristiano Ronaldo will start his Serie A career with Juventus at Chievo.

The Portugal forward became Juve’s club record signing last month when he joined from Real Madrid for £99.2million.

And Thursday’s announcement of the opening round of Italian top flight fixtures sees him head to the Stadio Bentegodi for the champions’ first match of the 2018/19 campaign, on the weekend of August 18-19.

Lazio host Napoli in the eye-catching fixture of the first weekend – the teams finished fifth and second respectively last season. Former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has since taken over as Napoli manager following the departure of Maurizio Sarri to the Blues.

Roma, who finished third last season, start at Torino, with fourth-placed Inter also away – at Sassuolo. City rivals Milan begin with a visit from Genoa.

Newly-promoted Parma, who will start the season with a five-point deduction after striker Emanuele Calaio was adjudged to have sent “suspicious messages” to a rival player ahead of a match in May, start at home to Udinese.

Serie B champions Empoli host Cagliari, while the other newly-promoted side – Frosinone – open at Atalanta. Sampdoria host Fiorentina and Spal travel to Bologna in the other opening round matches.

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AC Milan name Leonardo as sporting director

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Italian club AC Milan has announced the appointment of former Brazilian World Cup winner Leonardo as the club’s sporting director.

The 48-year-old had two spells for the club during his playing career, and has also worked as a manager at the San Siro during the 2009-2010 season.

“Leonardo’s story at AC Milan is unique, having contributed to some of the club’s great successes as player, coach, and director,” the club said in a statement.

“He will bring back to the team his experience in building up one of the biggest clubs internationally.”

Leonardo’s return days after a takeover of the Serie A giants by US hedge fund Elliott, following the club’s former Chinese owners failing to repay debt.

Elliott Management has pledged to inject €50 million ($59 million) to bring financial stability to once-successful European club.

“Leonardo’s appointment is another sign of Elliott’s commitment to bring in world-class and experienced leaders, who know what it takes to restore AC Milan to greatness,” said Milan chairman Paolo Scaroni.

Scaroni also confirmed that Leonardo “will be in charge of managing the club’s sporting area, including the transfer market.”

On Friday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport had overturned a European ban imposed on AC Milan for by UEFA for violation of its financial fair play rules, calling the punishment “not proportionate”.

“He will have all the financial support he needs to strengthen and rationalise the team within UEFA’s Financial Fair Play framework,” added Scaroni.

AC Milan re-affirmed that further announcements regarding the composition of the club’s management team “will be made in due course”.

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Carlo Ancelotti takes over from Maurizio Sarri as Napoli boss

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Carlo Ancelotti has signed a three-year contract to replace Maurizio Sarri as Napoli‘s head coach.

The 58-year-old former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain boss succeeds Sarri at Stadio San Paolo, less than a week after the latter secured a second-placed finish behind Juventus in Serie A.

A statement published on Napoli’s official website on Wednesday evening said Ancelotti, who had been out of work since leaving Bayern Munich last September, would take charge for the next three campaigns.

Azzurri president Aurelio De Laurentiis had earlier thanked Sarri, 59, for his achievements in Naples.

He tweeted: “I thank Maurizio Sarri for his dedication to Napoli which has brought great prestige and joy to the city and the fans by creating a style of football which is admired everywhere and by everyone. Well done Maurizio.”

In his third season in charge, former Empoli manager Sarri delivered 91 points from league games, however that haul was not enough to deny Juve a seventh straight Scudetto.

It was a third campaign of improvement from the Azzurri under his management. Napoli were runners-up in 2015-16 and, although they placed third a year later, they reached the last 16 of the Champions League.

Despite Napoli’s lofty finish, De Laurentiis had aired his frustration with Sarri – linked with Chelsea despite his fellow Italian Antonio Conte remaining in charge there – over stalled contract talks.

Following Sunday’s 2-1 home win over Crotone, Sarri said: “Everything in life ends and it is better to finish things after writing a beautiful story.”

Further reports in Italy claim Russian outfit Zenit St Petersburg are also keen to recruit Sarri amid the speculation he has been lined up as a potential successor to Conte at Stamford Bridge.

Well-travelled Ancelotti had been touted as the next Italy head coach until Roberto Mancini was installed earlier this month and he arrives in Naples boasting three Champions League trophies from his spells with AC Milan and Real Madrid, and a Premier League title from his two-year tenure at Chelsea.

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