Thiago Motta Appointed Genoa Coach

Italian former football player Thiago Motta is seen ahead of the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace (RCS) on September 14, 2019 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Martin BUREAU / AFP

 

Former Italy international Thiago Motto was appointed coach of Serie A strugglers Genoa on Tuesday hours after Aurelio Andreazzoli was sacked.

Brazilian-born Motta played for Paris Saint-Germain from 2012 to 2018, with his only previous coaching experience with PSG’s U19 team, which he managed until July 2019.

The 37-year-old takes over a Genoa side that has  won just one game out of eight played this season against Fiorentina on September 1.

They are second from bottom of the Serie A table with 20 goals conceded after Sunday’s 5-1 defeat to Parma.

Motta oversaw his first training session on Tuesday and will be officially presented at the north-western side on Wednesday.

The former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid midfielder played for one season with Genoa, before moving to Inter Milan in 2009, winning the treble the following season under Jose Mourinho.

He won five Ligue 1 titles at Paris Saint-Germain, and two La Liga crowns with Barcelona.

Motta earned 30 caps playing for Italy, reaching the finals of Euro 2012.

Genoa escaped relegation from Serie A last season on the final day under Cesare Prandelli, who was replaced by Andreazzoli in June.

Motta’s first game in charge will be on Saturday against Mario Balotelli’s Brescia, before travelling to Turin to play defending champions Juventus next week.

AFP

Inter Milan Keep Pace With Juventus As Sampdoria Hold Roma

FromL) Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku, Inter Milan’s Argentinian forward Lautaro Martinez and Sassuolo’s Italian goalkeeper Andrea Consigli go for the ball during the Italian Serie A football match Sassuolo vs Inter Milan on October 20, 2019 at the Mapei stadium in Reggio-Emilia. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Inter Milan held off a late Sassuolo surge to win 4-3 and keep pace with leaders Juventus in Serie A on Sunday as Claudio Ranieri settled for a goalless draw against former club Roma in his first game as Sampdoria coach.

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez each bagged a brace for Inter in a seven-goal thriller to keep Antonio Conte’s side second, a point behind Juventus who beat Bologna 2-1 on Saturday.

The match at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium was briefly interrupted before the break after a parachutist inexplicably landed on the pitch just as Lukaku was about to take a penalty.

The man was quickly led off by security agents as players and fans looked on bewildered. Then the former Manchester United striker slotted in to give Inter a 3-1 lead.

Martinez had opened the scoring after two minutes. He added a penalty after 71 minute, following Lukaku’s quick-fire double on 38 and 45 minutes.

Inter were in control 4-1 with 20 minutes to go, when Antonio Conte brought on winger Matteo Politano and midfielder Valentino Lazaro for their first appearances this season.

Then Filip Djuricic (74) and Jeremie Boga (81) hit back for the hosts to add to Domenic Berardi’s first-half goal.

Inter held on for a win after consecutive defeats against Barcelona in the Champions League and Juventus in Serie A.

“Once it goes to 3-1 and 4-1, it should be over,” said Lukaku who has now scored five Serie A goals in eight games.

“In the first half, we did everything well. However, we should have scored in the first 15 minutes after the restart to really kill off the match.

“The positive we take is that we got the three points, but we need to defend better than that.

“It was very important to get this win.”

Sassuolo fell to their fifth loss of the season and sit 16th just above the relegation zone.

“For more than an hour we played very well, then there was a blackout that we will analyse in detail,” said Inter assistant coach Cristian Stellini speaking as Conte missed the post-match conference because of illness.

“We did well, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

AS Roma’s injury crisis grew worse as they lost both Bryan Cristante and Nikola Kalinic early as they settled for a fourth draw in eight games against Ranieri’s basement club Sampdoria.

Edin Dzeko came on for Kalinic with his face protected by a mask after breaking a cheekbone two weeks ago.

The Romans also played the final five minutes a man down after Justin Kluivert was sent off for a second yellow card.

Roma fall to sixth in the table behind Cagliari who beat SPAL 2-0 as Sampdoria stay bottom but take their first point in four games.

Ranieri said he had made progress.

“I’m satisfied especially after only a week training together and against a very good Rome,” said Ranieri, who turned 68 on Sunday. “Now let me have time to get to know the players and then we will try to find solutions to score.”

Stefano Okaka’s header was enough to give struggling Udinese their second win of the season as Torino slipped to ninth.

Stefano Pioli takes charge of his first game as AC Milan coach later Sunday against Lecce.

Ranieri Appointed Sampdoria Coach

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 01, 2018 Nantes’ Italian head coach Claudio Ranieri attends the French L1 football match between Nantes and Saint-Etienne at The La Beaujoire Stadium in Nantes. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Former Roma boss Claudio Ranieri has been appointed coach of Serie A strugglers Sampdoria, the club confirmed on Saturday.

Ranieri, who memorably guided outsiders Leicester City to the 2016 English Premier League title, takes over from Eusebio di Francesco, who was sacked after a poor start to the season.

The 67-year-old Ranieri, who took over as coach at Roma last March after di Francesco was sacked, has signed a contract until June 2021.

Ranieri guided the Roman outfit, who he played for during his football career and had previously coached, to a sixth-place finish, missing out on Champions League football.

Sampdoria finished ninth last season, with Di Francesco taking over after Marco Giampaolo left for AC Milan.

The Genoese club have just one win in seven games and are bottom of the table, with 16 goals conceded.

Ranieri’s vast coaching experience includes spells at Chelsea, Valencia, Monaco, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, Juventus and Napoli.

His first game in charge will be at home against former club Roma on October 20.

AFP

Pellegrini Out For Two Months After Foot Surgery

AS Roma Italian midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini and CSKA Moscow’s Slovenian midfielder Jaka Bijol vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between PFC CSKA Moscow and AS Roma at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on November 7, 2018. Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP

 

Italy international midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini has been ruled out for two months after undergoing foot surgery, his Serie A club Roma said Tuesday.

“Pellegrini underwent a corrective procedure on the fifth metatarsal of his right foot,” the club said in a statement.

The surgery was successful and Pellegrini should “complete his recovery in around 60 days,” it added.

Pellegrini will miss Italy’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Greece in Rome on October 12, when the Azzurri could seal their spot in next year’s continental tournament.

The 23-year-old, who has 12 caps, scored his first goal for Italy in a Euro 2020 qualifying win over Armenia last month.

AFP

Balotelli Scores First Brescia Goal In Defeat To Napoli

Brescia’s Italian forward Mario Balotelli (Front) shoots a free kick as (FromL) Napoli’s Spanish forward Jose Callejon, Napoli’s Spanish defender Fabian Ruiz and Napoli’s Belgian forward Dries Mertens jump to defend during the Italian Serie A football match Napoli vs Brescia on September 29, 2019 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

 

Mario Balotelli scored his first goal for new club Brescia but the promoted northerners still fell to a 2-1 defeat to Napoli in Serie A action on Sunday.

The 29-year-old Italian international headed in after 67 minutes in his second match for his hometown club having missed four games because of a ban he incurred with former club Marseille.

First-half goals by Dries Mertens and Kostas Manolas ensured Napoli took all three points after their midweek loss to Cagliari, to boost confidence ahead of their Champions League trip to Belgian club Genk.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli stay fourth with 12 points from six games, six behind league leaders Inter Milan who beat Sampdoria 3-1 on Saturday.

Inter have a maximum 18 points from six games — two ahead of Juve — after winning their first six league matches for the first time since the 1966-67 season.

Juventus beat SPAL 2-0 to stay second with Atalanta third — a point ahead of Napoli — after thrashing Sassuolo 4-1 on Saturday.

“Suffering is natural in these games if you don’t kill it off with 3-0 and then concede a goal, it all opens up again,” Ancelotti told DAZN.

“But all in all I’m satisfied.

“We played an excellent first half, the second was less impressive, but it was very hot and the players were tired.”

Balotelli carried his daughter Pia, who lives in Naples with her mother and was decked out in the Napoli colours, onto the pitch at the San Paolo Stadium.

The home side were without Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly who has been given a two-match ban for his red card in the Cagliari game.

Ancelotti’s side went ahead after 13 minutes. Mertens connected with a Jose Callejon cross to blast in his 114th goal in a Napoli jersey — one shy of Argentine legend Diego Maradona’s total from 1984 to 1991. Slovak Marek Hamsik leads both with 121.

The 32-year-old Belgian international has been in form this season with four goals in five Serie A games. He also converted a penalty in the 2-0 Champions League win over holders Liverpool.

Manolas thought he had scored on 19 minutes but the goal was ruled out after a VAR review. The Greek defender did head in just before the break off a Mertens corner.

Napoli’s tempo dipped after the break allowing the promoted side to get back into the game.

There with a nervy final half hour after Balotelli got his head to a Sandro Tonali corner to serve notice to Italy coach Roberto Mancini of his ambitions to play Euro 2020.

It was his first goal in Italy in four years but Balotelli’s losing streak to Napoli stretched to eight games — having never won while playing for both Milan clubs, Manchester City, Nice and now Brescia.

Brescia slip to 14th in the table after their fourth defeat in six games.

AS Roma play in Lecce later on Sunday with AC Milan hosting Fiorentina.

AFP

Inter Regain Serie A Lead With Derby Triumph

Romelu Lukaku (Top C), Lautaro Martinez (4thL), Antonio Candreva (FrontR), Stefan de Vrij (R) and teammates acknowledge the public at the end of the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Inter Milan on September 21, 2019, at the San Siro stadium in Milan. Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

 

Romelu Lukaku fired Inter Milan back top of Serie A with the second goal of a 2-0 derby win that extended their perfect start to the season at the expense of city rivals AC Milan.

Belgium striker Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic’s second-half strikes gave Inter their fourth win in as many games, putting them two points ahead of Juventus after the champions’ came back from a goal down beat Verona 2-1 thanks to Aaron Ramsey’s first Serie A goal and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty.

Antonio Conte’s Inter were looking for a boost after their dismal 1-1 draw in their Champions League draw against Czech outsiders Slavia Prague.

And they hit back in a fiery Milan derby with Belgian striker Lukaku heading in his third goal in four games with 12 minutes remaining after Brozovic’s 49th-minute opener.

Milan could thank Gianluigi Donnarumma for keeping the match goalless in the first half after he denied Lautaro Martinez, Lukaku and Danilo D’Ambrosio.

Lautaro had a goal ruled out after 35 minutes for being marginally offside. But the breakthrough came four minutes after the break when Stefano Sensi set up Brozovic, whose deflected shot beat Donnarumma and was confirmed after consultation with VAR.

Lukaku sealed the win and a perfect 12 points from four games when he guided Nicolo Barella’s cross home with a glancing header, as AC Milan slip to ninth place with six points.

– Buffon back –

Juventus had trailed in Turin to Miguel Veloso’s goal before Wales midfielder Ramsey pulled the champions level in the 31st minute, with Ronaldo’s spot-kick ensuring the win for the hosts just after the break.

It got Maurizio Sarri’s side back to winning ways after last weekend’s Serie A stalemate at Fiorentina and a 2-2 Champions League draw at Atletico Madrid midweek.

Italian goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon returned to the Juventus goal after spending a season in Paris Saint-Germain to match Paolo Maldini’s Italian record of 902 club matches.

Buffon’s appearances have been spread across three clubs — Parma, Juventus and PSG — with Maldini having spent his entire career with Serie A rivals Milan.

But the 41-year-old could not keep a clean sheet and was beaten by Veloso after 21 minutes.

Amid confusion in front of the Juve goal after Simone Di Carmine missed a Verona penalty, and Darko Lazovic’s rebound rattled the bar, Veloso pounced to rifle a long-range strike past Buffon.

But Ramsey got the champions back on level terms 10 minutes later on his full debut, with a deflected effort past Verona goalkeeper Marco Silvestri.

Ronaldo put Juventus ahead from the spot with just his second goal this season three minutes after the restart, having missed two chances before the break.

Juve held on thanks to Buffon, who denied Mattia Zaccagni and Lazovic in front of goal after 89 minutes, while Veloso was denied a brace by the post.

“After the Champions League the team was tired, but the important thing was to win. Let’s take these three points and go ahead,” said Ronaldo.

Verona are 12th with four points from as many games.

Cagliari and Brescia are seventh and eighth respectively, with each on six points, after the Sardinian side saw off Genoa 3-1 on Friday and newly-promoted Brescia snatched a tight 1-0 win at third-from-bottom Udinese.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli travel south to promoted Lecce on Sunday after seeing off European champions Liverpool 2-0 on Tuesday, while third-placed Bologna can join Juve on 10 points with a win over mid-table Roma.

AFP

Celta Hold Atletico To Draw In Madrid

Atletico Madrid’s Spanish forward Alvaro Morata heads the ball during the Spanish league football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and RC Celta de Vigo at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on September 21, 2019. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

Atletico Madrid missed the chance to return to the top of La Liga on Saturday as they were held to a goalless draw at home to Celta Vigo. 

After coming from two goals down to salvage a point against Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday, Atletico failed to sustain the momentum in a match of few chances at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Atletico had capitalised on the stumbling starts of both Barcelona and Real Madrid by winning their opening three league games this season but they are now two without a victory, following last weekend’s shock defeat away at Real Sociedad.

They sit level on points with early frontrunners Sevilla, who will host Real Madrid on Sunday.

Celta, meanwhile, sit 14th in the table, having won only one of their five games so far, leaving Atletico’s coach Diego Simeone with familiar questions to answer about his side’s creativity and attacking threat.

Summer signing Joao Felix started before being replaced by Alvaro Morata in the second half, the Spanish striker available again after recovering from a knee injury.

But neither Felix nor Morata, or their partner Diego Costa, could conjur up the decisive opening, with full-backs Renan Lodi and Kieran Trippier by far the team’s most effective outlets in the final third.

Atletico were the better side in the first half but only created a handful of chances, none of which could be classed as clear opportunities.

Trippier’s early free-kick should have been headed in by Felipe Monteiro on his first start for the club but Ruben Blanco did well to react from five yards and push the ball over the crossbar.

Ruben made another smart save to deny Lodi’s driven effort from 30 yards while Felix found space at the back post soon after but his prodded finish was also tipped away.

Celta held their own either side of half-time as the match became increasingly high on intensity but low on quality.

Costa wanted a penalty after the hour, claiming he was pushed after failing to make contact with Lodi’s cross while Brais Mendez might have scored for Celta had Jan Oblak not been quick to shut down Santi Mina’s superb ball through.

Lodi fizzed a late shot past the far post but desperation turned to frustration in the closing stages. Lucas Olaza and Costa each picked up a yellow card for a skirmish after the final whistle.

AFP

Cagliari Escape Punishment After Lukaku Monkey Chants

Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs US Lecce on August 26, 2019 at the San Siro stadium in Milan.
Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Cagliari have escaped punishment for the racist chanting their fans aimed at Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku in a Serie A match earlier this month, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced Tuesday.

Belgian Lukaku, 26, was targeted by monkey chants before scoring the winning penalty that earned Inter Milan a 2-1 triumph in Sardinia on September 1.

But the FIGC’s sports judges ruled that reports of “chants, shouts, whistles and screams” from the home fans’ ‘Curva Nord’ (North Stand) just before Lukaku’s penalty could not be considered discriminatory in terms of “size and real perception”.

“The sport judge has decided not to apply sanctions against Cagliari,” the sports judges ruled.

After scoring the penalty, Lukaku made a post-match plea for football authorities to unite against the blight of racism.

Everton’s Moise Kean suffered similar taunts while playing for Juventus at Cagliari’s Sardegna Arena, alongside teammate Blaise Matuidi, after he scored a goal there for his former team Juventus last April.

Cagliari, who issued a statement after the match condemning the abuse, were however fined 5,000 euros ($5,500) for fans throwing plastic bottles at officials onto the pitch.

AFP

United’s Darmian To Join Parma

Manchester United’s Italian defender Matteo Darmian attends a training session at the Carrington training ground in greater Manchester, north west England on April 9, 2019, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg football match against Barcelona. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Italy full-back Matteo Darmian has joined Parma after four seasons with Manchester United, the Serie A club announced on Monday.

The 29-year-old joined United from Torino in 2015, but fell out of favour after his first season and made only 14 Premier League appearances across the last two campaigns.

READ ALSO: Van Dijk Battle Ronaldo, Messi For FIFA Award

Parma said Darmian had signed a four-year deal, but did not reveal the transfer fee.

Darmian played 92 matches for United in total, scoring one goal, and has made 36 international appearances.

Parma, who finished 14th in Serie A last season, won 3-1 at Udinese on Sunday to bounce back from their opening-weekend loss to reigning champions Juventus.

AFP

Perotti Out For Two Months With Thigh Injury

Diego Perotti of AS Roma looks dejected during the pre-season friendly match between AS Roma and Real Madrid at Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy on 11 August 2019 (Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto)

 

Roma attacking midfielder Diego Perotti has been ruled out for two months with a thigh injury, the Serie A club confirmed on Monday.

The 31-year-old Argentine picked up the injury training at the weekend and missed Sunday’s Serie A opener, a 3-3 draw at home to his former club Genoa.

Perotti has “a strain in his left quadriceps muscle”, Roma said in a statement, adding he would be out between 45 and 60 days.

It means he will sit out the Rome derby against Lazio on Sunday and also league matches against Sassuolo, Bologna, Atalanta, Lecce, Cagliari and Sampadoria.

It is the latest blow for the five-times capped Argentina winger who played just 15 games last season because of injury.

AFP

Five Players To Watch In Serie A

Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his team’s victory at the end of the UEFA Nations League final football match between Portugal and The Netherlands at the Dragao Stadium in Porto on June 9, 2019.
PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

 

Eight-time holders Juventus begin their title defence and Napoli will be looking for their first Scudetto in 30 years as Serie A returns in Italy this weekend.

Juventus, without new coach Maurizio Sarri, travel to Parma on Saturday, boosted by the signings of Matthijs De Ligt, Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot this summer with veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon back in Turin.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli head for Fiorentina, with the Tuscany side boosted by the arrival of former French international Franck Ribery on a free transfer from Bayern Munich.

Chinese-owned Inter Milan have also spent big for Antonio Conte’s first season in the San Siro with Romelu Lukaku arriving for 65 million euros ($72 million).

Here, AFP Sport looks at five key players to watch in Serie A this season.

– Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) –

The Portuguese superstar begins his second campaign in Turin after securing a title in a third major European league last season. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner should provide leadership in a team in transition after coach Massimiliano Allegri’s replacement by Sarri. Ronaldo, 34, had to wait until the fourth league game last season to get off the mark, but scored 28 goals in 43 games – 21 in Serie A, six in Champions League and one in the Italian Super Cup. It was his lowest tally in a decade and one which he will be looking to improve as he targets the ultimate prize of a sixth Champions League crown.

– Matthijs De Ligt (Juventus)

One of Europe’s most sought-after players, the 19-year-old Dutch international defender captained Ajax to their most successful season in years, ousting Real Madrid and Juventus to reach the Champions League semi-finals and winning the Dutch national double. But he conceded that the chance to play alongside Ronaldo was too good to turn down. The teenager has the opportunity to become a key player in the Juventus defence alongside veterans Giorgio Chiellini, 35, and Leonardo Bonucci, 32.

– Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan)

After an acrimonious exit from Manchester United, the powerful forward has become the star signing for former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, who had tried to capture the 26-year-old in 2017 when he moved to Old Trafford from Everton. Belgium’s all-time top scorer with 48 goals, he will be at the centre of Inter’s attack, taking the number 9 shirt from former club captain Mauro Icardi with the Argentina international frozen out. The ex-Chelsea and West Bromwich striker has been angered by suggestions he lacks fitness for Sunday’s opener against promoted Lecce. “Not bad for a fat boy,” he wrote on Instagram showing off his muscled torso.

– Hirving Lozano (Napoli)

The Mexican international has enjoyed two excellent seasons with PSV Eindhoven as a goal scoring winger. Known for his blistering pace the 24-year-old joined PSV from Pachuca in 2017 and soon found his feet in Dutch football. The winger nicknamed ‘Chucky’ has accumulated 45 goals in 83 games over two seasons. He is set to wrap up a deal reportedly worth 42 million euros).

– Mario Balotelli (Brescia)

Bad boy Balotelli desperately wants to impress at his promoted hometown club as he targets a place in Italy’s Euro 2020 squad. The 29-year-old, who has won 36 caps, last played in Serie A with AC Milan on-loan from Liverpool in the 2015-2016 season. Balotelli has been the victim of racism from fans in Italy in the past. “I hope from my heart to find a different league and not experience new episodes of racism,” he said. First he has to complete a four-game suspension for a red card while playing for Marseille before he is set to make his debut on September 25 against Juventus.

Inter Announce Lukaku’s Signing From United

Lukaku Hopes Clash Against Everton Sparks Revival For Him
Manchester United’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku/ AFP

 

Inter Milan on Thursday officially announced the signing of Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United.

The United’s Belgian forward Lukaku had earlier arrived  to undergo medical tests ahead of his likely transfer.

According to the Serie A club, Lukaku signed for Inter Milan on a five-year deal.

READ ALSO: Lukaku In Milan Ahead Of Probable Inter Move

“The Belgian footballer, arriving from Manchester United on a permanent basis, has signed a contract with the Nerazzurri until 30 June 2024,” Inter said in a statement.

The club did not reveal Lukaku’s wages nor the fee paid to Premier League side United, reported to be in the region of 80 million euros ($90 million).

Inter announced the deal with a video of the 26-year-old in an Inter shirt saying: “Inter: it’s not for everyone, that’s why I’m here.”

Lukaku, who had long been tipped for the move to Inter, landed in Milan on Thursday for his medical, with fans who waited at the airport for his arrival chanting “Lukaku is ours”.

The Belgium international has not played a single minute of United’s pre-season campaign ahead of the move, and has been pictured training instead with Anderlecht, the club with which he started his senior career.

AFP