Italy Roundup: The Old Lady rolls again, Fiorentina wastes golden opportunity

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Juventus continues to roll through 2014, this time adding to AC Milan’s misery with 2-0 victory at San Siro. It’s the third time in four years that The Old Lady has won the annual match at Milan, and didn’t lack for entertainment.

Fernando Llorente made sure the score wouldn’t be level at half when he collected a ball from Stephan Lichtsteiner and deposited it in the 44th minute. It ended a half of back-and-forth, setting the stage for the second half.

Some injuries and cards clouded the start of the second half, but Carlos Tevez’s 16th goal of the season doubled Juve’s advantage in the 68th minute and Milan would not recover. They’ve opened up a double-digit lead on the rest of the table.

As for Milan, they’ve allowed the bottom half of the table to become a distinct possibility. Genoa won to pull even on points with Milan, who are now three points behind Lazio. The Eagles took the air out of Fiorentina in a 1-0 match at Artemio Franchi.

Lazio’s Lorik Cana shocked the home side just five minutes in with a shot into the top left off a corner kick, and though Fiorentina did its best to level… it never came. Apart from Abdoulay Konko hitting the bar just before half, Viola controlled the half and attempted shots like they were going out of style.

The second half was more even, but the final 20 minutes were a series of almost for Fiorentina as they drove down the pitch. Former Manchester United midfielder Anderson was quite active, but for whatever reason Fiorentina refused to send simple crosses into the box, preferring to navigate into a cluttered Lazio box.

It didn’t work, and Fiorentina could not take advantage of draws from both Napoli and Roma above them. It’s looking more and more like a battle to stay in fourth rather than rise for Fiorentina… and it’s their own doing. Finish!

Elsewhere

  • Roma 0-0 Inter Milan – Roma’s chances were plenty, but the finishing was lacking in the draw.
  • Cagliari 3-0 Udinese – Breathing room and relief for the hosts, who get goals from three different players to move ahead of Udinese on goal differential and into the 14th spot.
  • Genoa 2-0 Catania – Stefano Sturaro’s first Serie A goal moves Genoa even with Milan as it looks to jump into the top half, as Catania stays in serious relegation danger.
  • Atalanta 2-1 Chievo – A face slap gave Bostjan Cesar a second yellow, but 10-man Chievo rallied to draw level before substitute Luca Cigarini found Atalanta’s winner in the 85th minute. The only thing keeping Chievo from the drop zone is goal differential.
  • Sassuolo 0-1 Parma  – Parma pulls to within one point of fifth-place Inter by holding off the basement dwellers on Marco Parolo’s goal.
  • Verona 0-0 Bologna – The visitors’ earned point worth its weight in gold as they stay out of the drop zone, but they’ll rue not taking all three after Rafael saved Rolando Bianchi’s penalty kick.
  • Torino 0-2 Sampdoria — Road win helps ease safety concerns for Sampdoria, who stuck in the seventh minute (Stefano Okaka) and the 79th (Manolo Gabbiadini).
  • Livorno 1-1 Napoli — A point from this fixture is nice for Livorno, but they still sit in 18th place and have to thank a Pepe Reina own goal for leveling the match.

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Juventus 26 22 3 1 62 19 43 13-0-0 9-3-1 69
Roma 25 17 7 1 49 11 38 10-3-0 7-4-1 58
Napoli 26 15 7 4 51 29 22 8-4-1 7-3-3 52
Fiorentina 26 13 6 7 45 29 16 7-3-3 6-3-4 45
Inter Milan 26 10 11 5 43 29 14 6-6-1 4-5-4 41
Parma 25 10 10 5 39 29 10 5-6-2 5-4-3 40
Verona 26 12 4 10 43 42 1 8-2-4 4-2-6 40
Lazio 26 10 8 8 34 34 0 7-3-2 3-5-6 38
Torino 26 9 9 8 39 34 5 5-5-3 4-4-5 36
AC Milan 26 9 8 9 39 37 2 6-4-3 3-4-6 35
Genoa 26 9 8 9 30 32 -2 6-4-3 3-4-6 35
Sampdoria 26 8 7 11 29 37 -8 4-4-5 4-3-6 31
Atalanta 26 9 4 13 27 38 -11 8-2-3 1-2-10 31
Cagliari 26 6 10 10 26 35 -9 6-4-4 0-6-6 28
Udinese 26 8 4 14 29 39 -10 5-2-5 3-2-9 28
Bologna 26 4 10 12 22 41 -19 2-6-5 2-4-7 22
Chievo 26 5 6 15 20 37 -17 3-2-7 2-4-8 21
Livorno 26 5 6 15 27 46 -19 3-4-7 2-2-8 21
Catania 26 4 7 15 19 45 -26 4-5-3 0-2-12 19
Sassuolo 26 4 5 17 25 55 -30 3-1-9 1-4-8 17

Brussels could potentially lose Euro 2020 slot over stadium doubts

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Belgian FIFA Council member Michel D’Hooghe expressed his sincere doubts about a new stadium at the crux of the winning Brussels bid for Euro 2020.

According to D’Hooghe, there are serious political hangups with the construction, even if Anderlecht decides to fill the stadium after the tournament. Anderlecht currently plays at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, which also hosted the 1972 Euro semifinal between Hungary and Soviet Union. The club pulled out of its initial agreement to fill the new stadium back in February due to the political disputes.

“If they want to build it they have to start building very soon, and there I have severe doubts,” D’Hooghe said to the Associated Press during an anti-doping summit in Switzerland. “Even if Anderlecht would say `We go there,’ there remains the political problem.”

“The organizers (in Brussels) still hope that there will be a solution. It is not impossible. The problem is you cannot start building today.”

Euro 2020 is set to be a one-time cross-contential tournament. UEFA selected Brussels back in 2014 as one of 13 host cities. Cardiff is one city that was not chosen, but could fill in, the AP points out, as they host the Champions League final this coming summer at Millennium Stadium, built in 1999 for the Rugby World Cup. A number of French cities were also rejected due to the country hosting in 2016.

The proposed Brussels stadium would hold 60,000 fans and be built in Grimbergen, just north of Brussels. The current stadium at that site, King Baudouin Stadium, can hold 50,000, but lacks the modern facilities for hosting a tournament, including broadcast facilities and suites.

MLS Snapshot: Jozy double downs Dynamo, Toronto wins 2-0

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The game in 100 words (or less): Toronto FC had too much firepower for defensively challenged Houston, and the hosts carved up the Dynamo for a 2-0 win north of the border. Giovinco was creative and flashy if not sharp, and Jozy Altidore was the benefactor as the American bagged both goals. After an early spell of Houston possession off the opening whistle, Toronto dominated from start to finish, with the midfield bossing the game.

Three moments that mattered

16′ – Raheem Edwards on the ball out wide, he burst into the box and – seeing Giovinco draw 2 defenders in an offside position – he cut back for Altidore who finished cooly from the spot. Too easy for the opener.

32′– Jozy doubled his lead as he played an absolutely brilliant one-two with Giovinco. The Italian popped it over the top as Altidore slipped through the line, and the USMNT star had the simplest of finishes.

85′ – Houston looked to get back into things by pouring men forward, but to no avail. The closest they came was off a corner as Alex ripped off a shot that sailed over the bar.

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Man of the match: Victor Vazquez/Marco Delgado

Goalscorers: Jozy Altidore (16′, 32′)

Juventus bumped by Atalanta at the death

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Juventus is still in firm control of the Serie A title race, but they were dealt a slight setback as Atalanta secured a 2-2 draw with a dramatic 89th minute equalizer in Bergamo.

Dani Alves had given Juventus the lead in the 83rd minute on a header after a brilliant far-post cross by Miralem Pjanic, but Remo Freuler answered late as he grabbed a point.

The goal came on a fortunate bounce as Pjanic and substitute Stephen Lichtensteiner got tangled up on the ball and failed to clear, and the ball squirted to Freuler who suddenly found himself free in front of Gianluigi Buffon. The Juventus keeper came off his line to smother the chance, but he failed to completely collect, and the ball again popped free. Freuler followed up the loose ball, and with a trio of Juventus defenders flying in, the 25-year-old Swiss attacker knocked it in.

The draw was deserving for Atalanta, who had controlled the game for much of the first half, and went ahead just seconds before the break on a goal by Andrea Conti. Atalanta outshot Juventus 7-4 in the first half, 3-1 on shots on target. Juventus took over control in the second half, and got back on level terms just five minutes after the break as Juventus loanee Leonardo Spinazzola put one in his own net.

Alves’ goal put Juventus in front, but that lead only lasted six minutes. Juventus goes nine points clear at the top of the Serie A table with the draw, but Roma has the chance to cut that to six if they can beat Lazio at home on Sunday.

MLS Week 8: Litmus tests across the board

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Week 8 in MLS action could teach fans a lot about clubs with plenty to prove.

With questions still abound regarding teams like NYCFC, New England, Seattle, Portland, and New York Red Bulls, all those teams have a chance to make statements regarding their potential strength this season.

[ MORE: Week 8 MLS Power Rankings ]

In addition, struggling teams such as Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Montreal all have opportunities for much-needed points against arguably weaker opposition.

Let’s take a look at the weekend slate chronologically:

Toronto FC vs. Houston Dynamo
7:30 p.m. ET Friday

Toronto got a pair from Giovinco last time out, and sitting near the bottom of the crowded East mid-tier, they need points fast to avoid finding themselves in a hole behind the top of the table. There’s goals in this one, with Houston defensively challenged and Cubo Torres on fire to start the year.

Montreal Impact vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
3:00 p.m. ET Saturday

An all-Canadian clash actually serves as a vitally important match for both clubs. With each side near the bottom of their conference standings, they both need a result badly to jump-start the campaign. A draw does nobody any good here moving forward.

Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids
4:00 p.m. ET Saturday

The Lions are one of 2017’s surprises, and Cyle Larin is on an absolute tear. Unfortunately, so far, anyone who shuts down Larin shuts down Orlando City. That said, good luck to Colorado shutting down an early MLS Golden Boot challenger.

Cyle Larin has 6 goals in 6 games this season (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images).

NY Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire
7:30 p.m. ET Saturday

New York has seen bumps on the early-season road, but overall remains a strong Supporter’s Shield contender. They face a big test against another strong Eastern Conference side, and a win here would make it three straight, all over good competition. Chicago is reeling after its defeat to Toronto, out-shot 9-1, but has another chance to pick up a road win before heading back home.

Columbus Crew vs. NYCFC
7:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Columbus has been poor on the road, but they return home to Mapfre Stadium to take on a strong NYCFC side. This game could potentially teach us a lot about whoever comes out on top, as both look to build separation from the rest of the pack in the East. Both have lost two of three, but both still appear strong up front, and three points in this game could prove to be a marquee win to point to later in the season.

Minnesota United vs. San Jose Earthquakes
8:00 p.m. ET Saturday

Minnesota United, owners of one of the worst starts to the season, has shown signs of life. Can they keep it going against another team struggling for points?

FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers
8:00 p.m. ET Saturday

This is a marquee matchup, and with FC Dallas unbeaten so far, represents a huge test but also a huge opportunity for Portland to announce itself as a true top contender in the West. They’re top of the table, but have played at least one more game than most teams just below them. Can the Timbers find a way through the strong Dallas D?

Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake
8:30 p.m. ET Saturday

A big rivalry game with big table implications, Sporting KC has the unfortunate luck of catching RSL after hiring Mike Petke and not before. This should be a fun one.

Seattle Sounders vs. New England Revolution
10:00 p.m. ET Saturday

We still don’t know exactly what New England is. For every step forward they’ve taken one back, and for every setback they’ve had they’ve found a way through. This is a fantastic test. There are plenty of excuses for a potential loss with the team going cross-country to face one of the league’s best attacks, but a result could be a true statement.

LA Galaxy vs. Philadelphia Union
10:30 p.m. ET Saturday

With Philadelphia struggling and now traveling a long way, this should be a chance for the Galaxy to turn things around. Should be.

Atlanta United vs. D.C. United
3:00 p.m. ET Sunday

Atlanta is back home for the first time in over a month. They have slipped a bit since the torrid start, but still appear a dangerous club. D.C. will have its work cut out.