Italy Soccer Serie A

There are bad challenges, and then there’s this Esteban Cambiasso lunge at Sebastian Giovinco

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This one was so bad, Esteban Cambiasso went to the Juventus locker room to apologize. According to reports, he apologized to Sebestian Giovinco. He apologized to Antonio Conte. He apologized to the entire Juventus team.

It’s the least he could do after what could only euphemistically be called a rash challenge. Late in today’s game in Milan with Inter chasing a goal, Cambiasso lunged at Giovinco as Juventus was trying to play out the clock. As you can see, Giovinco appeared to be seriously injured, Cambiasso’s extended leg making contact just above the ankle.

Thankfully, it appears he wasn’t. While Giovinco’s leg bends as if it may have been broken, no break was reported following initial evaluations. After visiting with the Juventus attacker, Cambiasso said Giovinco was feeling better, though after having the next few years of his career flash before his eyes, you can understand why Giovinco’s mind was moving into a better place.

“My tackle was late, no doubt,” Cambiasso told reporters after the match. “I apologized twice with Giovinco. My career speaks about me, I never wanted to harm him.”

Not wanting into harm somebody should go without saying, and it’s really irrelevant in this situation. If Cambiasso had wanted to hurt Giovinco, he may have executed his lunge in the exact way. If your actions would be same regardless of intent, why does intent matter? Perhaps somebody else think of a good answer; regardless, soccer players have to be more responsible about the dangers they pose to other players. The second he lunges, Cambiasso’s showing a level of disrespect to Giovinco.

It was the first straight red of Cambiasso’s Serie A career, so we have reason to bring out the old English cliché: the Argentine’s probably not “that kind of player.” And if Giovinco’s willing to look at things that way and accept Cambiasso’s apology, I suppose we should move on, too.

EURO 2016: Who’s headed to France?

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - OCTOBER 10: Volkan Sen of Turkey in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group A Qualifier match between Czech Republic and Turkey at Letna Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.

The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.

[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]

That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.

Group A

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Iceland
  3. Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)

Group B

  1. Belgium
  2. Wales
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)

Group C

  1. Spain
  2. Slovakia
  3. Ukraine (qualified for play-off)

Group D

  1. Germany
  2. Poland
  3. Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)

Group E

  1. England
  2. Switzerland
  3. Slovenia (qualified for play-off)

Group F

  1. Northern Ireland
  2. Romania
  3. Hungary (qualified for play-off)

Group G

  1. Austria
  2. Russia
  3. Sweden (qualified for play-off)

Group H

  1. Italy
  2. Croatia
  3. Norway (qualified for play-off)

Group I

  1. Portugal
  2. Albania
  3. Denmark (qualified for play-off)

EURO 2016: Dutch disaster as Netherlands fail to qualify

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13:  Robin van Persie of the Netherlands (19) reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.

Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic

The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.

[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]

Italy 2-1 Norway

Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.

Malta 0-1 Croatia

With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.

Elsewhere in EURO qualifying

Group A

Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan

Group B

Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Group H

Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan