Sep 21

Napoli have never looked more ready under Sarri to challenge for Serie A title | Paolo Bandini

The brilliance of Napoli’s front three – Dries Mertens, José Callejón and Lorenzo Insigne – should not blind us to the quality running through the side

Maurizio Sarri did not feel anxious as he headed for the tunnel. His team was a goal down to an in-form Lazio, who had already beaten Juventus and thrashed Milan in the past six weeks. And yet, the Napoli manager told his players to change nothing. Just keep doing what you’re doing, lads, and things will turn out right in the end.

Or, at least, that’s the way he told it afterwards. Only those individuals present in the Stadio Olimpico’s away changing room can know whether Sarri’s team-talk truly was as zen as he claimed. What we can say is this: he was entitled to have faith in his team.

Related: Golazos galore: the 25 best goals from the golden era of Serie A

Related: Genoa’s Pietro Pellegri sets Serie A record, sparking tears and transfer talk | Paolo Bandini

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 20

Golazos galore: the 25 best goals from the golden era of Serie A

Channel 4 showed live matches from Italy from 1992 until 2002, capturing some of the greatest players and goals of all time. These are the very best of them

By Emmet Gates for The Gentleman Ultra, of the Guardian Sport Network

On 6 November 1992, Channel 4 took a bold risk and went to Genoa to broadcast a Serie A match live for a British audience. Italian football had a reputation for being dull and defensive, but the players put on a show. Sampdoria and Lazio produced a stupendously entertaining 3-3 draw, with Beppe Signori and Roberto Mancini both on the scoresheet. A week later the cameras captured Milan’s 5-4 win over Pescara, which featured goals from Massimiliano Allegri, Paolo Maldini and Gianluigi Lentini, as well as a couple of own goals from Franco Baresi and a hat-trick from Marco van Basten.

The viewers had been converted and they would remain hooked for the next decade. Below we have compiled the 25 best goals from the 10 years Football Italia was broadcast on Channel 4. To keep the list interesting, every player is limited to just one appearance – the entire 25 could have been by Roberto Baggio and Álvaro Recoba otherwise – and dead balls are denied entry.

Related: Serie A’s unlikely top goalscorers: from Michel Platini to Luca Toni

Related: How Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Lazio won the great Serie A title race of 1999-2000

Related: Ronaldo at 40: Il Fenomeno’s legacy as greatest ever No9, despite dodgy knees | Rob Smyth

Related: Francesco Totti in the Rome derby: his 11 goals for Roma against Lazio

Related: Roberto Baggio at 50: celebrating his five greatest free-kicks

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 20

How Wolves became early favourites to win the Championship

Wolves finished 15th in the Championship last season but, after changing their manager and signing 12 players, they look like genuine title contenders

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

The Championship is notoriously competitive and this season is proving to be no exception. After eight rounds of fixtures, the top six clubs are separated by just two points and none of the three pre-seasons favourites – Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Fulham – are in those play-off places. Villa and Fulham aren’t even in the top half – although they are just seven points behind Leeds, Wolves and Cardiff, who sit at the top of the table with 17 points.

The season isn’t yet two months old but momentum has already swung one way and then another. Cardiff City won their first five games of the season; Ipswich will go top if they win their game in hand on the leaders; and Leeds currently sit in first place. But Wolves are the one side who look like genuine title contenders, which is somewhat remarkable given their summer of upheaval.

Related: Jorge Mendes and Wolves: how deep does the agent’s influence run? | David Conn

Related: Is Wolves’ record signing Rúben Neves really suited to the Championship?

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 19

European roundup: James Rodríguez inspires Bayern to Bundesliga summit

• On loan Real Madrid forward scores and assists in 3-0 win at Schalke
• Internazionale go top of Serie A despite surrendering 100% record

James Rodríguez made a stunning full debut for Bayern Munich as the Bundesliga champions returned to top spot for at least 24 hours with a 3-0 win at Schalke, while there was a change of leadership in Serie A, too, though Internazionale will be far less happy with only drawing 1-1 at Bologna, surrendering their 100% record.

For Bayern, Rodríguez scored one goal and had a hand in both the others as his side continued to ease the pressure on Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian coach came under fire after a recent loss at Hoffenheim but Tuesday’s result means Bayern have responded by scoring 10 goals without reply in their last three games.

Related: Lionel Messi hits four to lead rampant Barcelona’s hammering of Eibar

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 18

Genoa’s Pietro Pellegri sets Serie A record, sparking tears and transfer talk | Paolo Bandini

The 16-year-old, who has similar qualities to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, lived up to the hype with two goals against Lazio to become the league’s youngest scorer

Marco Pellegri decided to go on living. Genoa’s team administrator had warned us that he might not, telling reporters: “The day [my son] Pietro steps out at Marassi wearing a Genoa shirt I can go ahead and die, because it will mean that I have seen everything.”

Nope, not even close. Pietro Pellegri would make his home debut in April, a three-minute cameo at the end of a defeat to Chievo. It was a beautiful moment: father and son stood side by side on the touchline at Marassi as the board went up announcing the latter’s introduction from the bench.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 11

Milan still a long way from restoring greatness despite their summer splurge | Paolo Bandini

Vincenzo Montella’s side were soundly beaten at a wet Stadio Olimpico by Lazio with big-money signings like Leonardo Bonucci failing to display their talent

Sooner or later, something was going to rain on Milan’s parade. At first it seemed like it might be the actual rain, as the skies opened above Rome on Sunday, dumping four inches of water on the capital in three hours. As streets were submerged and public transport ground to a halt, it seemed inevitable that the Rossoneri’s game away to Lazio would need to be pushed back to a later date.

Instead, it was postponed for just one hour: officials trusting in both the weather forecast and the pitch drainage system at the Stadio Olimpico. From a logistical standpoint, it turned out to be the right decision. With hindsight, however, Milan might have wished for more time to prepare.

Related: Paulo Dybala’s fine strike caps Juventus’s home victory over Chievo

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 09

Paulo Dybala’s fine strike caps Juventus’s home victory over Chievo

Juventus maintained their perfect start to the Serie A season with a 3-0 home win over Chievo capped by a superb individual goal from Paulo Dybala. The champions have taken nine points from their opening three games as they chase a seventh successive title.

Chievo gave Juventus a helping hand when Perparim Hetemaj inadvertently headed Miralem Pjanic’s free-kick into his own goal at the near post after 17 minutes.

Related: Mark Uth’s double for Hoffenheim condemns Bayern Munich to first defeat

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 30

Transfer window: six underrated players who should be attracting more interest

Transfer fees have gone crazy this summer but players such as Malcom, Idrissa Gueye, Ricardo Pereira and Nabil Fekir could have been good value signings

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

There are always a few players who dominate the conversation during any transfer window. Neymar, Naby Keïta, Kylian Mbappé and Alexis Sánchez have attracted a lot of the hysteria this summer, leaving other talented players to fly under the radar for one reason or another. Here are six players who have been mystifyingly overlooked this summer.

Related: Transfer window: players who should move to help their World Cup chances

Related: Who to sign on deadline day? Premier League fans share their transfer requests

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 28

Inter shock Roma to give Spalletti the last laugh on jeering ‘Totti fans’

The crowd sang Totti’s name in a veiled jab at the man who phased out their hero but Mauro Icardi’s sharp-shooting fired Spalletti’s side to a scarcely-deserved win

At the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, the 46th president of the United States paused to grab a selfie with the eighth King of Rome. Frank Underwood and Francesco Totti: two characters stripped of the jobs that defined them. Netflix are yet to confirm whether House of Cards will be renewed for a sixth season, but for Roma the show must go on, even with their greatest star now relegated to a supporting role.

The crowd sang Totti’s name before kick-off against Inter, louder than that of any player who would take to the pitch. It was a show of support for a man still struggling to adjust to life as a director. But it was also a not-so-thinly veiled jab at Luciano Spalletti, the manager who phased him out of the Roma team over the past two years, before leaving to take charge of the Nerazzurri.

Related: Transfer liveblog: Thomas Lemar, Jonny Evans, Kylian Mbappé and more – live!

Related: Paulo Dybala hat-trick rescues Juventus from terrible start against Genoa

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 27

European roundup: Asensio double saves Real from Valencia defeat

  • Brace from youngster seals a point for Ronaldo-less Madrid
  • Milan youngster Cutrone scores while Suso grabs late winner

The Spanish champions Real Madrid had to rely on two stunning strikes from a relentless Marco Asensio as they drew 2-2 at home with Valencia on Sunday while Sevilla grabbed a scarcely deserved first win of the campaign by beating Getafe 1-0.

Asensio, 21, delighted the Santiago Bernabeu with a long- range opening strike but Valencia scored two impressive team goals either side of the break through homegrown youngster Carlos Soler and the debutant Geoffrey Kondogbia. Marcelino’s side led with 13 minutes to go, forcing Asensio to rescue Real with a superb free-kick in the 83rd minute.

Related: Milan’s Chinese owners take high-risk gamble in search of lost glories | Ed Aarons

Related: Kylian Mbappé set to join PSG on loan with option to buy for €155m

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Older posts «