Roma dealt double blow with Destro banned, Benatia injured

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Roma’s slim chances at a Serie A title were hampered further as Mattia Destro was given a three-match ban and defender Mehdi Benatia was ruled out for a month with a muscle tear.

Destro was sanctioned by the league for a punch on fellow Italian international Davide Astori.  He was not punished by the referee in the match but the league handed down the punishment following the match.

A yellow card for a later incident also means Destro will miss one more match for caution accumulation, meaning he will be out for the next four Roma league games.

“Destro is not a violent player,” Roma manager Rudi Garcia told Italian media ahead of this week’s match with Atalanta. “Football is a contact sport and these actions take place. It’s true that he hit his opponent in the face but the referee saw everything.”

The club is appealing his suspension, arguing that the referee had seen the incident and decided not to take action. If that is the case, the league is not allowed to hand down a ban and change punishment for an incident the referee judged to be fair.

“In such cases, the rules clearly state that if the official saw the action there is no need for TV evidence to be used to determine the punishment,” Garcia said. “We are hopeful that his ban will be reduced.”

Thanks to the yellow card suspension, Destro will miss the Atalanta match this weekend for sure, and the Serie A panel will have time to review the club’s appeal.

In what would be a serious shame, Destro could now be overlooked for the Italian World Cup squad. Manager Cesare Prandelli is known for holding players to a high standard both on and off the pitch, and Destro was already just barely working himself into the picture with good form.

Benatia will also be out a similar timeframe and could miss the rest of the year after the central defender tore a muscle in his left thigh.

The 26-year-old Moroccan has been a warrior for Roma this season, playing 2,664 of Roma’s 2,880 minutes thus far and was at the forefront of their blistering start to the Serie A season. He played the full 900 minutes during their 10-game win streak to start the year in which the club conceded just a single goal. Roma have allowed a Serie A-low 18 goals this year.

It’s thanks to this amazing form that has attracted interest from Manchester United as they look to replace Nemanja Vidic at the back.

Roma sit eight points back of Serie A leaders Juventus with six matches remaining.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.

Agent: Liverpool contacted Klopp only after Rodgers firing

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09:  Jurgen Klopp arrives to be unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC at a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.

However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.

“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”

Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”

It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.