Mancini: ‘Chiellini mistake was my fault…’ | Football Italia

  Italy coach Roberto Mancini confesses he accidentally left Giorgio Chiellini on the bench against Bosnia-Herzegovina. ‘I didn’t have my glasses on…’

  There was confusion in the build-up to the Nations League match on Friday evening in Florence, as reporters were all confident Chiellini was meant to be in the starting XI.

  When Francesco Acerbi appeared in the official line-up, RAI Sport claimed the FIGC were desperately trying to get UEFA to change it, but were told it could only be done if Acerbi was sent to the stands due to injury.

  “It was my fault,” confessed Mancini in his press conference after the 1-1 draw.

  “They showed me the line-up, I didn’t have my glasses on and just said it was fine. I didn’t notice Acerbi was there rather than Chiellini.

  “Anyway, we had planned originally for Acerbi to play one game and Chiellini another. I had asked Giorgio if he wanted to play today or on Monday with Holland, he said today, but we’ll have to swap it now.

  “It’s not


like we chose a goalkeeper rather than a defender, it’s not a massive difference, but yes, it was an error.”

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Koeman meeting the final straw for Messi? | Football Italia

  Lionel Messi’s meeting with Barcelona


coach Ronald Koeman allegedly triggered the Argentine to ask for a move, as he was told ‘the privileges are over’.

  According to a report in Olé, the Dutchman’s words during their meeting triggered Messi to send a fax requesting to terminate his contract at Camp Nou.

  Koeman was reportedly on the phone with Messi, saying: “The privileges in the squad are over. I’m going to be inflexible, you have to think about the team.”

  Associated Press has confirmed the talisman sent a letter requesting a transfer this summer and wants out immediately.

  The 33-year-old has a clause in his deal allowing him to leave at the end of each season, but Barcelona prepare their response saying the clause expires on June 10.

  Koeman has been appointed on a two-year contract in Catalonia and Presidential candidate of Barcelona, Victor Font, has asked for new elections to be called immediately if President Josep Maria Bartomeu doesn’t resign from his position.

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Verona latest Bonaventura option | Football Italia

  Hellas Verona are the latest club interested in Giacomo Bonaventura, who is a free agent after leaving Milan.

  His contract has expired after a decade at San Siro, but he wants to remain in Serie A.

  A return to his first club Atalanta was suggested, along with Torino, Roma and Fiorentina.

  Now Sky Sport Italia have pointed to Verona as another option for the midfielder who turns 31 later this month.

  It remains difficult, as does an approach from newly-promoted Benevento or Crotone, because Bonaventura is still aiming higher.

  He is in no rush to make a decision and reportedly wants to fully evaluate all the options.

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Coronavirus: Two positive cases at Valencia | Football Italia

  More cases of coronavirus in La Liga, as Valencia have announced two positive tests.

  Los Che have officially announced two other positive tests, a few days after Atletico Madrid revealed two of their staff had tested positive to COVID-19.

  The Spanish club announced the news today and informs that both are in isolation at home. Their identities are currently unknown.

  Atletico Madrid found two cases of coronavirus ahead of their trip to Lisbon, where Diego Simeone’s men face RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

  It was later revealed that Angel Correa and former Serie A man Sime Vrsaljko had stayed behind and are isolated in Madrid.

  Valencia were eliminated by Atalanta in the last 16 of Champions League 2019-20.

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  Gianluigi Donnarumma makes his 200th Milan appearance tonight against Sassuolo, who drop Jeremie Boga.

  Catch all the action as it happens at Mapei Stadium with our liveblog from 20:30 UK time!

  Donnarumma remarkably reaches the milestone despite still being just 21 and is protected by Milan’s usual back fou as Davide Calabria makes way for Andrea Conti on the right.

  Elsewhere, the Rossoneri are unchanged from the 5-1 demolition of Bologna, with Samu Castillejo not yet ready to return.

  Sassuolo, meanwhile, bench Boga and hand a start to teenager Giacomo Raspadori in his place behind lone striker Francesco Caputo.

  The match pits together two of Serie A’s form teams, with both their eyes firmly fixated on a top-six finish for Europa League qualification next season.

  Sassuolo (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Muldur, Marlon, Peluso, Rogerio; Locatelli, Bourabia; Haraslin, Raspadori, Berardi; Caputo

  Milan (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Conti, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo; Bennacer, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Rebic; Ibrahimovic

  Referee: Pairetto

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Ribery wants a trophy with Viola | Football Italia

  Fiorentina forward Franck Ribery concedes the Viola ‘could have done more this season’ and wants to ‘give the fans a trophy’.

  Former France international Ribery arrived in Florence last summer but was ruled out for months by an ankle injury.

  The 37-year-old has ambitions for his new side and reveals he is not thinking about retiring just yet.

  “I train and have fun like at the start. I’m not tired of what I do. For me, football, as well as a job, is fun and a passion,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

  “It would be nice to give the Viola fans a trophy. I want to thank them for the great affection they have shown me. I hope they can soon return to the stadium.”

  The French winger has no intentions of retiring and has not made any plans to continue in football after his playing days are over.

  “As long as I have the desire and the right motivation, and of course my body is able to, I would like to continue. I will think about my future when the time comes.”

  Fiorentina sit 12th after a disappointing first season under Rocco Commisso and Ribery admits that he expected more from the Viola this term.

  “I think we could have done a little more already this season,” the former Bayern Munich forward said. “At the moment we are not at the level of the big teams.

  “But with two or three great players and the growth of our youngsters, I think we could do well very soon.

  “Commisso and his family are very good people. Rocco has great charisma and a driving enthusiasm. He’s a very important reference for us.”

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Atalanta only the beginning | Football Italia_5

  Italian football has this reputation for being boring, defensive, entirely dominated by one team and the others all simply roll over for them. None of that is true in 2020. Well, alright, so Juventus are on track for a ninth consecutive title, but even here it’s far from a comfortable victory parade. Atalanta, Sassuolo, Hellas Verona, even Bologna and Lecce, are all part of the new breed of Serie A club. Unapologetically provincial, but with the mindset of a potential giant. It’s like Zdenek Zeman’s Foggia spawned children without the laissez-faire attitude to defending and copious cigarettes.

  So much used to be made of ‘respect’ in Calcio. There were all these unwritten rules about not going beyond 4-0, as it was belittling your opponent when they were already beaten. You had to respect the big clubs like Juve, accept your role of sparring partner and hope to grab a point by defending stoically against the inevitable onslaught. That simply isn’t the case anymore and Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta are just at the forefront of this movement, by no means the only ones. They are grabbing the headlines after setting up a Champions League quarter-final with Paris Saint-Germain and securing their status in the competition for next season, too.

  La Dea are shattering scoring records as well as opposition defences, netting at least six in four different matches, a record in Europe’s top five leagues this season. The only other Serie A team in the last 60 years to have reached 93 goals in a campaign was Napoli with 94 in 2016-17, but they are on track to comfortably crush a Century. The last Italian top flight team to score 93 goals after 33 rounds was Milan on 101 in 1950-51, which was before Gasperini had even been born. These are historic figures and worthy of celebration, so it’s no wonder they are inspiring others.

  The most direct inspiration, of course, is Ivan Juric, who was Gasperini’s player at Genoa and later his assistant manager. Hellas Verona don’t always get it right, but they have the same approach as Atalanta and it has put this newly-promoted club mid-table. If they had some better centre-forward options available, they could easily have challenged for a Europa League place.

  Juric summed up the new Italian approach after the 2-2 draw with Inter. “I don’t like being defensive, getting increasingly pinned back and crushed. I get bored and irritated. I honestly prefer to risk a heavy defeat than play like that.” I am so glad that Hellas replaced their city rivals Chievo Verona in the top flight this season, because the former darlings of the neutrals had become a painful carbuncle of Calcio, forever just happy to be one point above the relegation zone, even if it meant only really trying in the games against those around them in the table. Good riddance to Donkeys treading water.

  Sassuolo have just extended Roberto De Zerbi’s contract and this makes them absolutely the team to watch next season. They’ve got more of a Zeman style about them at the moment, as shown by three different 3-3 draws against Inter, Verona and Juventus since the restart alone, but they’re still at the early stages of the project. This is where Atalanta were a couple of years ago and, like the Bergamo boys, this is a provincial club with smart economic principles and a bold vision.

  Let the defend and counter brigade go down, bring up the record-breaking Benevento and make Serie A the home of spectacular, attacking football. The more Atalanta succeed, the more they will inspire others to follow suit. It’s already happening with Bologna and even Lecce, who I really hope don’t get relegated, as Fabio Liverani at least does try to take the game to the big clubs and play good football, even if it’s usually undone by poor finishing and defensive errors. If you’re going to go down, at least go with a fight, an identity and respect above all for yourself rather than the over-rated opposition. Mark my words, Atalanta are just the beginning.

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Inter make Alexis hungry again | Football Italia

  The last few years haven’t been the best of Alexis Sanchez’s career. It has given many the impression that he’s past his prime and is far from being the player that he used to be at Arsenal or Barcelona. The move to Manchester United has gone on to become one of the most underwhelming signings in the club’s history. There seemed to be a lack of motivation, and with the money involved, it seemed like a move dictated by greed.

  But in recent weeks, many things are pointing to the fact that the Sanchez probably hasn’t played this well since his Arsenal days under Arsene Wenger. Inter’s 3-1 win over Torino on Monday has a confirmation of that, as the Chilean notched up a couple of assists and looked in sparkling form – once again.

  For probably the first time in around two years, there seems to be a zip about Sanchez. He looks rejuvenated and gives the impression of being a player who is actually bothered about winning games for his team. He is moving quickly across the Inter front-two and his movement in the final-third is causing big problems for the opposition on a consistent basis.

  Apart from grabbing assists against Toro, the former Barca man sparkled against Brescia as well. He assisted twice again and scored once too. He got a vital assist against Sassuolo and even though he couldn’t score against Verona, the Chilean did impress with his desire to keep plugging away and nearly succeeded too.

  He looks hungry for goals and hungry to contribute to goals as much as he can. The media has often been critical of his attitude in recent years. Reports have even suggested that he comes across as the selfish character who will be happy if he scores, even if his team loses. Whether that is true or not is anyone’s guess, but that doesn’t really ring true at Inter – at least from the outside.

  In recent weeks and months, Antonio Conte has been crying out for some depth and variety in attacking areas. He had tried to sign a target man like Olivier Giroud or Edin Dzeko in the summer and that didn’t work out. Sanchez was going through an injury patch and Conte decided to move Matteo Politano on, despite everything.

  The Torino game saw Conte rest Romelu Lukaku, who had picked up a slight knock. For how important Lukaku has been to the Nerazzurri this season, not risking him at this point of the season was a big decision to make. But the fact that Conte trusted Sanchez to do a job beside Lautaro Martinez said a lot about how he’s earned the manager’s trust with recent performances. And he didn’t let anyone down.

  He isn’t quite the tall and wiry forward that Conte ideally wanted in Giroud or Llorente and he isn’t the sort that Lukaku is either. But Sanchez brings that street-smart attitude that Conte really likes in his forward. That is exactly why he had a liking for Carlos Tevez at Juventus and for Diego Costa at Chelsea. And perhaps, that is why he likes Lautaro Martinez as well. Sanchez has this aura about him which can instil a work-ethic into a team, as it did for Arsenal back in the days. Sanchez’s workhorse nature allowed Giroud and Mesut Ozil to thrive in the freedom they got.

  This might only be a spell for Sanchez. But like Christian Eriksen, even he took a while to get to grips with Conte’s approach to the game. The injury on international duty didn’t help. More than that, he had one of Europe’s best striker pairing starting ahead of him and he had acquired a reputation for not being the best of characters either.

  But somehow, the 31-year-old has fought through it all to become a very reliable goalscoring option for Inter at such a critical point of the campaign. They just have this assurance now that if any of Martinez or Lukaku don’t play, they have someone to fall back on. They didn’t have that with Politano or in the first-half of the campaign.

  With talks reportedly ongoing about Inter signing him on another loan, Man Utd should ideally be looking at Sanchez’s form with some attention. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men use quick attacking transitions and they too need depth to compete on all fronts, despite being unbeaten in 18 straight games. Sanchez’s future might be uncertain but it still rings true that on his day, he can still be a match-winner.

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