The Confederations Cup semi-final match-up between Spain and Italy just lost more of its gloss as Mario Balotelli has been ruled out of the clash with a thigh problem.
The Italian Football Federation made the announcement following a series of medical tests on Balotelli’s left quadriceps following Italy’s 4-2 loss to Brazil on Saturday.
The federation stopped short of saying that Super Mario was done for the tournament, claiming they would continue to monitor his status in the hope that he could return for the Azzurri’s next match – either the final or the third-place game. If Italy are defeated by Spain on Thursday, one can expect that Balotelli will not be risked in a third place match.
Balotelli has enjoyed a strong showing in the World Cup warm-up tournament, powering home the match-winner against Mexico, scoring a penalty in the 4-3 win over Japan and setting up Emanuel Giaccherini’s goal in the 4-2 loss to Brazil.
Balotelli’s injury adds to Italy’s injury woes as Ignazio Abate was sent home after separating his shoulder and midfielder Ricardo Montolivo is out after suffering a head injury against Brazil. Andrea Pirlo, who was sidelined from the Brazil match with a muscle problem, faces a late fitness test to see if he’ll be ready for the Spain clash.
With Balo out, expect Cesar Prandelli to switch from a 4-3-2-1 to a 3-5-2. Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini will play as the back three and Christian Maggio and Emanuele Giaccherini will line up as wing-backs while Bologna’s Alberto Gilardino and AC Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy are the likely candidates to lead the front line.
Italy and Spain kickoff this Thursday at 2:30pm EST on ESPN.
MILAN (AP) Sassuolo’s victory over Pescara has been reversed to a 3-0 loss.
Sassuolo won Sunday’s Serie A match 2-1 but the league now says it fielded an ineligible player.
The league says the paperwork for the signing of Antonino Ragusa, who played the final 25 minutes, had not been filed by noon the day before the match – as its rules demand.
Sassuolo says it followed the rules and will appeal.
The club was one of four teams to win both its opening matches, along with Genoa, Juventus and Sampdoria.
Jack Wilshere won’t be with Arsenal following Wednesday’s transfer deadline, however, where the Gunners midfielder lands is yet to be seen.
[ MORE: Is David Luiz poised for a return to Stamford Bridge? ]
According to Daily Mail, as many as 22 clubs are in the mix to acquire Wilshere on loan, including various Premier League sides.
[ MORE: Aguero charged by FA, could be out for Manchester derby ]
While Daily Mail suggests that Crystal Palace is among the leaders to bring in the 24-year-old center midfielder this season, Bournemouth and Watford are also said to be in the mix to sign the playmaker.
Manager Arsene Wenger reportedly won’t allow the Englishman to go to any of the top four sides in England and also hopes that Wilshere lands outside of the UK .
Wilshere is also being chased by foreign clubs including Serie A sides Juventus and Roma.
The Gunners have been active as the deadline heads down its final hours, with Lucas Perez of Deportivo La Coruna and Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi both joining the club on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, young defender Calum Chambers has joined Middlesbrough on loan and Serge Gnarby is reportedly close to joining Werder Bremen after drawing significant interest from Bundesliga sides.
CHICAGO (AP) The U.S. women’s national team will host Switzerland for two matches this October in Minneapolis and Utah.
The matches for the defending World Cup champions are set for Oct. 19 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, and at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Oct. 23.
The U.S. team has played Switzerland just twice before, with the Americans winning both matches.
The United States is also facing Thailand on Sept. 15 in Columbus, Ohio, before playing the Netherlands in Atlanta on Sept. 18.
The team will be without goalkeeper Hope Solo, who was suspended from the team for six months following comments she made at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The United States was ousted by Sweden in the quarterfinals for the team’s earliest-ever exit at the Olympics.
Just incase you were unaware, there’s another Pogba. And he too could be playing in the Premier League very soon.
[ MORE: Could David Luiz be making a return to Stamford Bridge? ]
While it was Paul Pogba that stole the spotlight when he returned to Manchester United for a world-record transfer fee, Florentin — his 26-year-old brother — is drawing interest from England’s top flight.
According to the Sun, David Moyes and Sunderland are launching an $8.5 million bid for the St Etienne defender as a potential replacement for Lamine Kone. The Black Cats still anticipate that Kone will exit the Stadium of Light this season after handing in a transfer request earlier this month.
Pogba has played with the Ligue 1 club since 2012 after joining from lower-division club Sedan. Additionally, the centerback has made 13 appearances for Guinea at the international level.