Highlights: Atalanta 1_2

  A bandaged Luis Muriel was Atalanta’s hero as he came off the bench to score the winner against Bologna.

  Muriel risked a freak head injury just a week ago but put all that behind him in a hard-fought victory for Atalanta, who broke their Serie A points record for the third time under Gian Piero Gasperini.

  Surviving a free kick from old boy Musa Barrow that hit the bar, the Dea are now just six points off league leaders Juventus, despite having played a game more.

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Lopez: ‘We can’t give up’ | Football Italia

  Brescia coach Diego Lopez was happy with the performance against SPAL and claimed the Rondinelle ‘can’t give up’ on salvation.

  A brace from Jaromir Zmrhal cancelled out Bryan Dabo’s opener and helped Brescia claim all the spoils in 2-1 win at the Rigamonti on Sunday.

  With 12 points left to play for and nine points to safety, it’s a tall task for Lopez’ men, but the coach will never stop believing.

  “We can’t give up. This must transmit,” he said at a press conference after the game. “We must go there [to Lecce] and play the game.

  “There are ways and ways to lose. It will be difficult to stay up, but we must fight until the end. Today, we could have lost it, but we kept it in play.”

  The Uruguayan revealed he was already thinking about Lecce after the final whistle.

  “Us coaches have only one evening to think about what we have done. Wednesday will be extremely important.

  “The staff must work hard for the match against Lecce.”

  Lecce sit four points behind safety themselves and a defeat to Brescia can give Genoa the opportunity to pull further away from the relegation zone.

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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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Di Biagio: ‘Don’t expect me to run away’

  SPAL coach Luigi Di Biagio was warned by patron Walter Mattioli but assures he ‘won’t be running away’ and wants to ‘be part of the reconstruction’ in Ferrara.

  Di Biagio has lost six and won just one of his eight games in charge, after having replaced Leonardo Semplici in February.

  SPAL sit rock-bottom in Serie A, 11 points away from safety with only six matches remaining, starting with a tough game against Inter in Ferrara tomorrow.

  The 49-year-old said he agreed with what the Biancazzurri patron said in an interview with Sky Sport Italia.

  “The President can and must express his dissent. I share his though that we can play better,” Di Biagio said at a press conference. “We must have the spirit to try to fight until the end.

  “The talks of me staying lasted up until two days ago, then things can change. The President has depicted our moment well.

  “My team are not playing well, I’m sorry because the teams I have coached have always played good football. Like we did during my first games here.

  “I will fight until the end to stay, start again, do well and rebuild together. I’m fully focused on the match against Inter. We must at least try to not finish last and have our dignity until the end. We have no other targets at the moment.”

  Di Biagio insisted he doesn’t feel betrayed by anyone in Ferrara.

  “Absolutely not. The lads are doing their best in training. During the games, they are afraid, and I don’t know why.

  “Since we returned after the lockdown, bot for tiredness and the distance from the fourth place, I think they lacked the certainties we had before. In this moment, we must have the strength to react immediately.

  “We don’t have time and we can’t end the season in this way. We must respect the city and the fans.”

  And the former Italy Under-21 coach has claimed he never thought about stepping down.

  “I will be the last to leave this sports centre. I will stay until the last game of the championship. Beyon any result we will get. We can do more, and I have to do more.

  “I have responsibilities but here they started from the beginning of the year. Don’t expect me to run away, it’s not something I do.”

  Di Biagio claimed he is ‘tired’ of talking and wants to ‘send a message to the fans’ through their performances in the remaining six matches.

  “We must give the message to the fans on the pitch. I’m tired of saying something positive to the fans.

  “We have to speak less and step up some more. That’s not something we have done in the last few games.

  “I’m sorry because I perceived a great relationship with clubs, supporters and cities. I would be sorry not to continue here.

  “My hope is to do well in these last six games because I want to be part of the reconstruction of SPAL. We have all the preconditions to be able of doing well.”

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Line-ups Atalanta-Brescia

  Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini leaves out Josip Ilicic and Papu Gomez, as Luis Muriel misses out due to a head injury and Sandro Tonali starts on the bench for Brescia.

  Muriel looked set to start against the Rondinelle tonight, but a head injury has stopped the Colombian from trying to add to his tally in Serie A 2019-20.

  But the Orobici coach has also left out Gomez and Ilicic, as Mario Pasalic gets another chance to impress after having scored a brace in the reverse fixture last year.

  He will be joined by Ruslan Malinovskiy in the duo behind Duvan Zapata.

  Diego Lopez’ side will not have goalkeeper Jesse Joronen available, as well as coping without Mario Balotelli and Dimitri Bisoli.

  The away side will also start with Stefano Sabelli and Sandro Tonali on the bench in Bergamo.

  Atalanta (3-4-1-2): Sportiello; Sutalo, Caldara, Djimsiti; Castagne, De Roon, Tameze, Gosens; Pasalic, Malinovskiy; Zapata

  Brescia (4-3-1-2): Andrenacci; Mangraviti, Chancellor, Mateju, Semprini; Bjarnason, Dessena, Viviani; Spalek; Torregrossa, Donnarumma

  Referee: Manganiello

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Liverani: ‘Lecce can hurt Lazio’

Fabio Liverani has warned Lazio and former teammate Simone Inzaghi that his side ‘can do it all’ and ‘cause problems’ tomorrow.


Although Lecce have lost six straight games and are two points adrift of safety in Serie A, they scored twice in their 4-2 defeat to Sassuolo last time out, highlighting how their problems are at the other end of the pitch.

“The team played well against Sassuolo,” Liverani said at a press conference.

“Now we’re on the right track. We’re only missing that spark to take all three points.

“Games against our relegation rivals during this period are worth six points, but we still must try to take points from the other teams we play.”

The 44-year-old will be coming up against his long-time Lazio colleague in Inzaghi…

“I’ll experience this game like I do all the others. Nothing can take away from the past, just as nothing can take away from the present.

“Everyone thinks about covering their own backs first. We need the points to move up the table.

“My team can do it all. They have what it takes to cause problems for even a battleship like Lazio.

“Inzaghi and I played together and are the same age. We’ve known each other for a long time, but we’ll think of ourselves over the 90 minutes.”

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How Schalke’s current side just did the club’s team of ’93 a big favour in 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen draw

Schalke 04 and Bayer Leverkusen played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in the Bundesliga on Sunday afternoon.

The hosts, who fielded their youngest starting XI in the league since December 2016, were seemingly on course to grab a much-needed win but Leverkusen managed to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat.


Leverkusen subsequently find themselves sitting in the Champions League places with destiny firmly in their hands. As for the Royal Blues, it’s another game without tasting victory.

Naturally, there were individual winners and losers. Here are three of each from this encounter.

Winner: Wendell
Having an industrious full-back that loves to get forward is a major plus in the modern game. Leverkusen are fortunate to call upon uncapped Brazilian left-back Wendell, who in recent weeks has forced his way back into Peter Bosz’s lineup. After Sunday’s performance, the chances of him being dropped must be low.Wendell was involved in everything Leverkusen did positively. No one on the pitch touched the ball more times (144), and he played a key role in their equaliser. His cut-back seemed destined for compatriot Paulinho, who had just come on moments earlier, but it was blocked. That being said, Juan Miranda — Wendell’s opposite number — inadvertently put the ball into his own net.

Loser: Kai Havertz
A few months ago, Bayer Leverkusen manager Bosz stated that midfielder Kai Havertz will command a transfer fee of €100m, a belief very few would disagree with given his unquestionable talent and upside. The native of Aachen, who turned 21 a few days earlier, had been making transfer headlines with a number of Europe’s superclubs reportedly keen to acquire his signature this summer.

Sunday’s game in Gelsenkirchen was a comeback of sorts after he missed Leverkusen’s last two games due to injury. With all eyes on him to make an immediate impact after returning to Bosz’s starting line-up, Havertz was uncharacteristically subdued, losing possession and not being his usual threat in the final third. He’d ultimately play 70 minutes before making way for Kevin Volland.

Kutucu wasn’t the youngest player on the pitch, that distinct honour went to 19-year-old Can Bozdogan. Though nominally a central midfielder, the fearless teen was fielded on the left flank in an orthodox 4-4-2 and to say he played beyond his years would be an understatement.

Making his full debut, Bozdogan showed great awareness and composure, while never being afraid to play an ambitious ball. He completed three take-ons and created a single chance, modest figures no doubt, but as many as any of his teammates. This impressive first outing, which lasted 69 minutes, surely brings a smile to supporters’ faces.

Loser: VAR
Ever-present since joining from Vitória Guimarães earlier this year, Edmond Tapsoba has seldom put a foot wrong for Bayer Leverkusen, that couldn’t be said moments after the break when on-field referee Daniel Siebert, via the aid of VAR, adjudged him to have committed a handball offence after Jonjoe Kenny’s cross into the penalty area.

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However, on closer inspection, it felt like a harsh call as it seemed Tapsoba was pushed into the ball. Ironically, without the video assistant referee, it wouldn’t have been given. Daniel Caligiuri, who duly converted, wasn’t complaining as Schalke need all the brakes they can get right now.

Winner: Schalke’s ’93 team
Former Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner was feeling it heading into this weekend. Wagner had overseen a run of 12 league matches without a win, accumulating five points in the process, which equalled a club record from 27 years ago. Being dragged into a relegation battle is now out of the question, thankfully, but it hasn’t been pretty.

+++ ABPFIFF +++

Schalke und @bayer04fussball trennen sich mit 1:1 ⚖️#S04 | ?⚪️ | #S04B04 pic.twitter.com/EFA5s7VB9q

— FC Schalke 04 (?) (@s04) June 14, 2020

Knowing that he was desperate for all three points, Wagner wasn’t counting his chickens before they hatched and that proved the correct decision when Leverkusen forced an equaliser inside the final ten minutes. His team’s misfortune subsequently means their 1993 team no longer owns the club’s longest Bundesliga winless streak.

Loser: Ahmed Kutucu
You can forgive Ahmed Kutucu for fluffing his lines with the game being two minutes old. Wagner, feeling the pressure, opted for youth on Sunday. No fewer than eight of his starters were under 25 with six of them — including Kutucu — aged 21 or younger. Banking on exuberance to get Schalke out of their current predicament is a gamble, but after exhausting all options, this seems poetic given the club’s reputation of bringing through and developing stars.

Kutucu is someone we could potentially describe as great one day, the 20-year-old hometown boy has already racked up 40 appearances, and bagging six goals in the process, since emerging from Schalke’s esteemed academy. Starts, though, have been few and far between with this being only his fourth in the Bundesliga, and Kutucu had to bury from close range after Lukás Hrádecky parried Weston Mckennie’s fierce shot into his path. It proved to be his only misstep, but pivotal given the context of their situation.

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