Pirlo Vs Gattuso: Old Team Mates Face Off As Napoli Tackle Juventus

File Photo: Gattuso-Pirlo

 

In a highly-anticipated first clash between two former stars of Italy and AC Milan now chasing coaching glory, Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli test their ‘Scudetto’ ambitions at Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus on Sunday.

Both won the 2006 World Cup for Italy and spent a decade as AC Milan teammates, winning two Serie A titles and two Champions League crowns together.

It is a clash which Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte can’t wait to see.

“Juve v Napoli? I’ll enjoy watching it,” said Conte, who coached Pirlo as a player to the first three of Juventus’s current run of nine Serie A titles.

“Napoli are underestimated a lot,” continued Conte.

“They are an excellent team, they are among the favourites for the Scudetto.

“They have a staff and a very good coach who will make life difficult for everyone.”

Gattuso begins his second season on the Napoli bench having taken over from Carlo Ancelotti last December. The club finished seventh but qualified for the Europa League after winning the Italian Cup, their first trophy in six years.

Former Glasgow Rangers defensive midfielder Gattuso has been coaching since he hung up his boots in 2013, with the bulk of his footballing career spent at AC Milan.

He had stints at Sion, Palermo, Crete and Pisa before returning to Milan where he trained the youth team before coaching the first-team for 18 months.

The 42-year-old left Milan after the team missed the Champions League by just one point.

By contrast, Pirlo, 41, had no coaching experience before taking over from Maurizio Sarri, receiving his coaching diploma days before the season kicked off.

“Well he’s stuck now! That’s the job,” quipped Gattuso on hearing Pirlo’s appointment.

“He’s lucky to be starting at Juventus, but this profession is one where a great playing career is not enough. You have to study, to work hard, and you don’t get much sleep.”

– Coronavirus tests –

This season Gattuso has the ambitious task of winning a first Serie A title since the days of Napoli legend Diego Maradona in 1990.

Pirlo is counting on extending Juventus’s winning streak to 10 consecutive Serie A titles.

Napoli are top of the Italian league table after two games with a win over Parma, and a 6-0 hammering of Genoa last time out.

Pirlo’s Juventus is a team “under construction”. They were held 2-2 by Roma last weekend.

As Napoli sit equal on maximum points with Inter Milan, Atalanta, Hellas Verona and AC Milan, Juve have four points.

Napoli are awaiting the results of a second round of coronavirus tests as last week’s opponents Genoa had 16 positive tests this week, including 12 players.

Genoa’s game against Torino on Saturday has been postponed.

A first round of swabs at Napoli came back negative, with the results of the second series of tests expected on Friday.

Inter, who have scored nine goals in their first two matches, take on a Lazio hurting after their 4-1 defeat to Atalanta in the Stadio Olimpico.

“Inter have been considered an outsider for many years, now we have acquired credibility,” said Conte of last season’s runenrs-up.

High-scoring Atalanta next host Cagliari with Hellas Verona looking for a third consecutive win at Parma.

Roma head for Udinese looking for their first win, with the north-easterners reeling after losing to promoted La Spezia, who next challenge AC Milan.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Fiorentina v Sampdoria (1845)

Saturday

Sassuolo v Crotone (1300), Udinese v Roma (1845)

Postponed: Genoa v Torino

Sunday

Atalanta v Cagliari (1030), Benevento v Bologna, Lazio v Inter Milan, Parma v Verona (all 1300), AC Milan v Spezia (1600), Juventus v Napoli (1845)

-AFP

Messi Greatest Footballer Of All Time, Says Gattuso

Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, on December 1, 2019. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

Lionel Messi is the “greatest” footballer of all time, ahead of even Diego Maradona, Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso said on Monday ahead of his side’s Champions League clash with Barcelona.

The 32-year-old Messi scored four goals at the weekend in Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Eibar and has now been involved in more than 1,000 goals in his career, scoring 696 and assisting another 306.

Gattuso was quick to praise Messi, comparing the Barca star to Napoli legend Maradona.

“He’s the greatest and an example for everyone,” said Gattuso ahead of the sides’ last-16 first leg on Tuesday.

“He never says anything inappropriate. He does things that only exist on the Playstation, unthinkable things.

“But I saw him (Maradona) on VHS or DVD. I never saw him up close, at a stadium.

“I know the champion he was and I know I missed something wonderful. I reget it. Today I see Messi doing things that Maradona was doing.”

Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne was not so keen to accept that Messi has reached greater heights than 1986 World Cup winner Maradona.

“Messi is the best in the world today,” said Insigne. “But for us Neapolitans, Maradona is everything and I don’t want to compare them. Maradona is sacred.”

But Insigne and Gattuso agreed that their team have to be careful not to focus only on trying to stop Messi.

“We have to be careful with their whole team because it’s not just Messi,” said Gattuso.

Napoli are enjoying a recent upturn in form after a dreadful start to the Serie A season which culminated in the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti following a 4-0 win over Genk that sent them into the Champions League knockout stage.

Last season’s Serie A runners-up have won six of their last seven games.

“Tomorrow (Tuesday), I want a Napoli side that are not afraid,” added Gattuso.

“I want to see a team that knows how to battle… You need to stand up to Barcelona — you can’t worry.

“I want to see a lively team that plays with joy until the end. Can Napoli win the Champions League? Never say never.”

It is the first time Napoli have reached the knockout rounds since a last-16 loss to Real Madrid in 2017, while Barcelona are bidding to make the quarter-finals for a 13th consecutive season.

Napoli Appoint Gattuso After Sacking Ancelotti

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 28, 2019 Milan’s Italian coach Gennaro Gattuso gestures during the Italian Serie A football match between Torino and AC Milan at the Grande Torino stadium in Turin. World Cup winner Gennaro Gattuso was named new Napoli coach, the club announced on December 11, 2019.
MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Gennaro Gattuso on Wednesday took over as coach of Napoli after Carlo Ancelotti was sacked despite guiding them to the Champions League last 16, the troubled Serie A side announced.

Gattuso, who left AC Milan at the end of last season after failing to qualify for the Champions League, takes charge of a club who sit seventh in Serie A.

“The aim is to recoup points and get back into the Champions League positions,” said Gattuso, who won the 2006 World Cup as a player with Italy.

“We need to work hard, win back points and come through this tricky period.”

READ ALSO: Liverpool Hungry For European Glory Despite Premier League Push

The 41-year-old replaces a friend in Ancelotti, who coached Gattuso to two Champions Leagues and one Serie A title over eight years in charge of seven-time European champions Milan.

“Ancelotti is like a father to me,” he added. “He’s always been close to me and supported me. He’s won it all and I still have a lot to prove.”

Former Rangers midfielder Gattuso joins Napoli at a difficult time despite their arrival in Monday’s draw for the knockout stages of Europe’s top competition.

Last season’s Serie A runners-up sit 17 points behind league leaders Inter Milan.

More worryingly they are eight behind fourth-placed Cagliari, who hold the final spot for next season’s Champions League, and have been engulfed in a row between the players and owner Aurelio De Laurentiis.

De Laurentiis ordered the players into a week-long training camp after defeat by big rivals Roma early last month — a decision with which Ancelotti publicly disagreed — but they rebelled and were hit with a massive fine that incurred the wrath of Players’ union FIFPRO.

Media reports in the United Kingdom suggest both Arsenal and Everton are keen to hire Ancelotti, who has won three Champions Leagues as a coach, after sacking Unai Emery and Marco Silva respectively.

AFP

Milan Keeps Champions League Hopes Alive After Bologna Win

AC Milan’s Italian forward Fabio Borini (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Bologna on May 6, 2019 at the San Siro stadium in Milan.
Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

AC Milan revived their Champions League hopes with a 2-1 win over Bologna on Monday as tempers flared with three players sent off and a bust-up between French midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and coach Gennaro Gattuso on the sidelines.

Gattuso’s side moves back into fifth place, three points behind Atalanta who occupy the final Champions League berth with three games left to play this season.

Milan had dropped out of the European places after a draw against Parma and loss to Torino but now move level on points with Roma who are sixth.

Champions Juventus and second-placed Napoli are already assured of Champions League football next season but the battle for the final two berths remains tight with Inter Milan on 63 points, followed by Atalanta (62), AC Milan (59), Roma (59) and Torino (57).

READ ALSO: BREAKING: Man City Tops League With One Point After Leicester Win

Spanish winger Suso opened for Milan on 37 minutes with the game springing to life in the second half with Fabio Borini tapping in the second on 67 minutes.

Bologna’s Mattia Destro pulled one back on 72 minutes, with Milan playing the final quarter of an hour a man down after midfielder Lucas Paquetá was sent off for arguing with the referee.

In a nervy finale, Bologna finished the game with nine men with Nicola Sansone and Mitchell Dijks both sent off late.

There was also pitchside drama early when Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia picked up an injury 25 minutes into the game at the San Siro with the Milan coach asking on-loan Chelsea player Bakayoko to start warming up.

Bakayoko — on the bench after arriving late for training — started to warm up without enthusiasm to the fury of Gattuso who instead asked another substitute, José Mauri, to come on.

Gattuso and Bakayoko were caught on camera exchanging insults with the French player saying twice “Fuck off, man” and the coach replying “I’ll see you later”.

Bakayoko joined the club on loan from Chelsea last summer with an option to buy but has been the subject of racist chanting this season several times notably from Lazio supporters.

AFP

AC Milan To Reward Gattuso With New contract

AC Milan To Reward Gattuso With New contract
(Files) AC Milan’s Italian coach Gennaro Gattuso looks during a football match played at the San Siro stadium on January 31, 2018. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

AC Milan have confirmed that coach Gennaro Gattuso will be rewarded with a new contract this Easter.

Gattuso, the club’s former youth team coach, took over the seven-time European champions from Vincenzo Montella last November and has rekindled the club’s season as they sit within the Europa League spots and with hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.

“When we open our eggs this Easter, we’re going to find Gennaro Gattuso’s renewal inside,” the club’s sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli told journalists.

Gattuso is still on the same wage he earned when in charge of the youth team — a reported 120,000 euros ($150,000) a year — making him the lowest-paid coach in the Italian top-flight.

His new deal would be around the two million euro ($2.4 million) per season, according to Gazzetta Dello Sport.

“I’ve been telling you for some time, although perhaps you only know him as a player, that Rino (Gattuso) is already an important coach and in the future will be one of the best in the world, so it’s only right that Milan keep hold of him.

“We are working to start a new era with Gattuso because we believe he is the right coach for a Milan that must be a protagonist over the next few years.”

Gattuso — an AC Milan player from 1999-2012 — has guided the northern Italian side on a 10-game unbeaten streak in Serie A, including eight wins, ahead of Saturday’s game against champions Juventus in Turin.

Italian media reports suggest he could sign the new deal prior to the city derby against Inter Milan on April 4.

“We all want it (contract), Rino like all of us, we just need to find the right time to do what we have to do,” added Mirabelli.

‘We’re Not Brad Pitt,’ Gattuso Warns Milan Players

'We're Not Brad Pitt,' Gattuso Warns Milan Players
AC Milan’s Italian coach Gennaro Gattuso gestures during a football match played at the San Siro stadium on January 31, 2018. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Gennaro Gattuso warned AC Milan not to get carried away by recent wins as they prepare to play Udinese coached his former Italy and Milan teammate Massimo Oddo.

“We’re not Brad Pitt now, we’ve got to continue being as ugly as me and my beard, with bags under the eyes,” said Gattuso ahead of Sunday’s Serie A game.

Gattuso took over late in November and the former European giants have now achieved three consecutive Serie A victories and held Lazio in the Italian Cup semi-final.

“We mustn’t forget what people were saying about us only six weeks ago, otherwise we’ll regress,” he continued.

“I hear talk of a Champions League place, but we’re not even in the Europa League spots now.”

Both Gattuso, 40, and Oddo, 41, spent a lot of their careers at Milan and were on Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning squad.

“I shared so much with Massimo Oddo. He’s an intelligent and funny guy whose success speaks for him,” said Gattuso who also played in Scotland for Rangers.

“He got a few slaps in the face from me for his pranks, as we had very different ideas on how to prepare for a game.”

Milan are looking for a fourth straight win in the league to move up from seventh into the Europa League places.

“We mustn’t get anything wrong, as at the moment only Napoli and Juventus are in better form,” said Gattuso.

Oddo has lifted Udinese from 14th to ninth since taking over two and half months ago and they are on an eight-game unbeaten run.

“Obviously, this is not a normal match for me, but it’s one I will have to deal with,” said Oddo of playing his former team.

“I am pleased to face some old friends and test ourselves in difficult circumstances.

“We have to play as a team against a Milan side that has learned how to act as a unit, so I compliment Rino Gattuso for his fine work.”

“Milan are in good shape, have learned how to become a team and are very dangerous opponents right now. Gattuso is a teammate and friend I shared unforgettable moments with, so I am very happy with the success he is experiencing as a coach.”

AFP

Gattuso Warns AC Milan Must Suffer

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 08, 2012 shows former Italian player and captain of the Swiss football club FC Sion Gennaro Gattuso during a press conference in Sion. Photo: Sebastien FEVAL / AFP

New AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso warned on Tuesday that the former Italian giants must suffer if they want to return to their glory days.

Gattuso, a key figure in some of Milan’s best ever teams, took over as coach on Monday after Vincenzo Montella was sacked following a disappointing start to the season.

The seven-time European champions, once the world’s best team but now way behind their traditional Serie A rivals, released Montella after a goalless draw against Torino left them seventh in Serie A, 18 points behind leaders Napoli.

“It’s an important day, a big responsibility,” said 39-year-old Gattuso, who was promoted from coach of Milan’s youth team.

“We need to prove that we’re willing to suffer and be a united squad. We’ll need a battlefield spirit.

“It’s going to be a tough job, this team has 16 nationalities and an average age of 21. They’re not having an easy time, but everything is in place to work well.”

AC Milan have not finished higher than sixth in Serie A in any of the last four seasons.

New Chinese owner Li Yonghong funded a 230-million-euro ($270 million) spending spree in the summer, but it has failed to produce immediate results and Milan lie seventh in Serie A.

Since retiring as a player in 2013, Gattuso has enjoyed mixed fortunes as coach, with short stints at Sion in Switzerland, at Palermo and Pisa in Italy and at Greek minnows OFI Crete before joining the Milan youth setup in May.

“I’ve over 100 matches behind me in different championships,” insisted Gattuso, defending his credentials. “It’s up to me now to get results.”

A combattive defensive midfielder, Gattuso made a total of 468 appearances for AC Milan between 1999 and 2012.

He won the Serie A title in 2004 and 2011 and helped Milan to Champions League glory on two occasions in 2003 and 2007.

“I feel the same emotions as I did when I was a player, when I come to Milanello it’s like I’m in heaven,” he continued.

“Right now I’m not looking at the table, I’ll take it day-by-day. The match against Benevento (Sunday) has to be like a World Cup final.”

– Milan’s DNA –

Gattuso is looking to inspire the players with AC Milan’s glorious past, which includes 18 league titles and seven European Cups, both of which they last won in Gattuso’s days as Milan player, in 2011 and 2007 respectively.

“There are plenty of photos at Milanello that remind us that this club has a great history.

“We can’t forget Milan’s DNA.”

Milan chief executive Marco Fassone said he fired Montella “with a lot of regret”.

“It was a painful decision due to the relationship we’d created with Montella, for a project which hasn’t gone forward as we’d hoped it would this summer,” said Fassone.

“We didn’t choose Rino (Gattuso) to plug a hole, but because he’s the right choice at this time. Given Rino’s history he knows the environment and the dressing room.

“In recent months he’s shown what it means to be a Milan coach. It’s a choice we wanted to make, we’ve not pulled an emergency parachute.”

AFP

‘I Will Kill Myself’ If Found Guilty Of Match Fixing’ — Gattuso

Former Italy international and AC Milan midfielder, Gennaro Gattuso, is under investigation on suspicion of being part of a match-fixing operation affecting dozens of Serie A games.

The Police also arrested four individuals in connection with the case which is believed to have involved more than 30 matches stretching back to 2009.

Gattuso, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, denied any connection with match-fixing and described the accusations as “absurd”.

“I’m angry and offended,” he told the media in Italy. “I don’t even know how you would fix a match. I don’t know how you’d go about it,” he said.

Thirty-five years old Gattuso won the Champions League twice with Milan and  was sacked as manager by Serie B Palermo in September after a series of bad results.

Officials involved in the case confirmed that former Lazio, AC Milan and Inter Milan player, Cristian Brocchi, is also being investigated.

Brocchi’s agent, Davide Lippi, told journalists: “It was a big surprise, we’re all quite shocked. I’ve known Cristian for years and I think he’s got nothing to do with any of this,” “Cristian is calm about it.”

Prosecutors say bets worth tens of thousands of euros, and in some cases hundreds of thousands, have been placed on both the top-flight Serie A and Serie B matches.

The investigation was triggered by a second-tier Serie B match in Cremona in 2010 which aroused suspicions that led to a wider probe.

Former Lazio and Italy striker, Giuseppe Signori, has been banned for five years and 15 other players suspended for between one and five years for their part in the scandal.

Di Martino confirmed the case showed that the match-fixing scandal, which has hung over Italian soccer since the 2006 “Calciopoli” scandal which saw Juventus stripped of the 2005 and 2006 Serie A titles, had not been resolved.

Gennaro Gattuso has rejected accusations of his alleged involvement in any match-fixing and dramatically claimed he would kill himself if found guilty.