Paulo Dybala

Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images

Serie A: Juve’s title stranglehold looks looser after loss to Lazio

Leave a comment

ROME (AP) Juventus’ stranglehold on the Serie A title for six straight seasons looks at risk of being broken.

The Bianconeri were beaten by Lazio for the second time this season on Saturday, falling 2-1 at home after conceding two goals to Ciro Immobile just like in the Italian Super Cup in August.

It’s the second straight match that Juventus has dropped points after drawing with Atalanta 2-2 before the international break.

“We need to work on our lapses in concentration,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “We fought but only in segments. At other times we were too loose.”

League leader Napoli won at Roma 1-0 with a first-half goal from Lorenzo Insigne to open up a five-point advantage over Inter Milan, Juventus and Lazio.

Inter faces AC Milan in the Milan derby on Sunday.

“The lads should enjoy this achievement,” said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi, who is being mentioned as an eventual replacement if Allegri leaves Juventus. “At the start of the season they said we would finish ninth or 10th. Now people should be talking about us.”

Juventus led 1-0 at halftime courtesy of a rebound goal from Douglas Costa but experienced defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli couldn’t contain Immobile after the break.

Substitute Paulo Dybala came close to rescuing Juventus but was denied first by the post in stoppage time then had a penalty blocked by Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha at the final whistle.

Immobile had no such trouble.

Two minutes into the second half, Luis Alberto set up Immobile to finish a counterattack with a confident, low, angled shot.

Five minutes later, Immobile was at it again in a virtual replay, only this time goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon charged forward and tripped the striker to set up a penalty.

Immobile drilled his spot kick to the right corner as Buffon went the other way.

“This gives us more motivation,” Immobile said. “Lazio has been doing great things since the Super Cup.”

Immobile leads the Serie A scoring chart with 11 in eight matches and also has the best tally in Europe’s top five leagues with 15 in all competitions for Lazio.

Immobile also scored in Italy’s 1-0 win over Israel last month and national coach Gian Piero Ventura will be hoping he stays in form for a World Cup qualifying playoff next month.

Juventus, meanwhile, will have to take a long look at its once-vaunted defense after relinquishing a lead for the second straight game.

The Turin club had been undefeated for 57 home matches in all competitions.

An involuntary assist from Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi set up Napoli’s goal.

Midway through the first half, De Rossi accidentally set up Insigne with only the goalkeeper to beat and the diminutive Italy forward took advantage to score his 100th career goal.

Kostas Manolas, Roma’s top defender, exited with an apparent injury early in the second half and Napoli goalkeeper preserved the clean sheet by blocking a header from Federico Fazio.

It was the first league match this season in which Napoli didn’t score at least three goals.

Still, the Partenopei remain on course for their first title since 1990, when Diego Maradona played.

Napoli visits Manchester in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Roma visits Chelsea a day later and Juventus hosts Sporting Lisbon.

Report: Man United eye $209 million Dybala

Getty Images
1 Comment

Manchester United is ready to pay Juventus another huge transfer fee for a star player.

[ MORE: Conte heading back to Italy?

Paulo Dybala, 23, is ripping it up for the Turin club after his move from Palermo in 2015.

The Argentine playmaker has scored 12 goals in his opening eight games of this season after scoring 42 in his first 94 appearances in all competitions for Juve.

Reports have surfaced across the UK media stating that United are set to battle it out with Barcelona next summer for Dybala and are willing to pay over $209 million for the forward who is capable of playing centrally or out wide.

Dybala has 10 caps for Argentina but is yet to score for La Albiceleste.

Does Jose Mourinho really need another attacking midfielder/secondary forward?

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba are all currently scrapping for three spots underneath Romelu Lukaku in Mourinho’s attack. Dybala is a class above most of those players with the diminutive attacker perhaps a long-term replacement for Mata who turns 30 in April.

Not only are his set pieces and crosses a deadly weapon (ask Gonzao Higuain at Juve) but consistently scoring close to 20 goals a season will make the biggest clubs in Europe stand up and take notice.

When I watch Dybala a see a more clinical Philippe Coutinho. Is he worth $209 million? Who knows anymore. The transfer market has gone bonkers but if Neymar is worth $265 million, Dybala’s output isn’t much less than the Brazilian forward.

Juve have said they won’t stand in his way if he wants to move on but United will have to pony up the big boy cash to snap up one of the hottest talents on the planet.

Serie A: Dybala scores two more, Juve win 4-0; Napoli perfect, too

Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) Paulo Dybala continued his astonishing start to the season as he netted twice to help Juventus beat 10-man Torino 4-0 in a Serie A derby on Saturday.

Miralem Pjanic and Alex Sandro scored the others after Torino midfielder Daniele Baselli was sent off after 24 minutes of the Derby della Mole.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Goals galore on a wild Saturday ]

Dybala took his tally to 10 goals in the opening six league matches, just one less than he scored in the whole of the last campaign.

Juventus stayed perfect in Serie A, as did Napoli which won at Spal 3-2 earlier.

Roma, which has played a match less, remained six points behind after beating Udinese 3-1.

Torino shot itself in the foot early on, first by gifting Juventus the lead as Baselli and Tomas Rincon gave away possession and Dybala drilled into the bottom right corner from the edge of the area.

Matters grew worse for Torino eight minutes later when Baselli, who had already been booked, clumsily clattered into Pjanic and he was shown a second yellow card and dismissed.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Goals galore on a wild Saturday ]

“I was too eager for the derby, I cared too much about this game. I made a mistake. I apologise to my teammates, our fans, the club,” Baselli wrote on Twitter.

Pjanic doubled Juve’s lead shortly before halftime, curling into the left side of the net after Juan Cuadrado cut back a cross.

Sandro headed in a corner in the 57th and it could have been more for Juventus but Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu pulled off some fine saves, and Mario Mandzukic hit the post.

In stoppage time, Dybala dinked the ball over Sirigu after good linkup play between Pjanic and substitute Gonzalo Higuain.

Algeria left back Faouzi Ghoulam was the unlikely match-winner for Napoli seven minutes from time, with a run from the halfway line.

[ MORE: Mauricio Pochettino — “I am in love with Harry Kane” ]

“If Spal plays like this all year, this will be a difficult place,” Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said.

“We don’t feel we’re the `anti Juve,’ we’re a team which is getting a lot of points and we have improved in comparison to the past years: We are more able to withstand negative moments of matches.

“We have had a good start, that gives us confidence and enthusiasm to continue working.”

Spal lost its previous three matches but took a surprise lead early when Mirco Antenucci rolled the ball across for Pasquale Schiattarella, who is from Naples, to smash it into the bottom left corner.

The home side’s lead lasted only 77 seconds. Lorenzo Insigne curled an effort inside the near post.

Spal was causing Napoli problems but it was the visitors who led in the 71st when Jose Callejon headed in Ghoulam’s cross.

[ MORE: Mourinho bewildered by sending-off; Man United beat Southampton ]

Federico Viviani put Spal back on level terms seven minutes later with a free kick but Ghoulam scored what was to be the winner shortly after.

Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice to keep up the pressure on Napoli and Juventus.

All the Roma goals came in the first half, with El Shaarawy pouncing after Edin Dzeko‘s opener.

Capital side Roma has played a match less than most Serie A teams coming into the weekend, as its fixture at Sampdoria was postponed because of bad weather.

Dzeko seems determined to retain the Serie A top goalscorer award he won last year and he opened the scoring with his fifth goal in three matches.

Serie A: Inter throttle Roma; Juve come back on Dybala’s hat trick

Simone Arveda/ANSA via AP
Leave a comment

Roma 1-3 Inter Milan

New Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti had a fruitful return to the Italian capital on Saturday, as his Nerazzurri side came from behind to win at Roma 3-1 in Serie A.

Mauro Icardi scored twice in the second half as Roma was made to pay for its profligacy, having hit the woodwork three times.

Spalletti left Roma by mutual consent at the end of last season and joined Inter shortly afterward, along with sporting director Walter Sabatini. He has two league wins out of two for Inter, after they beat Fiorentina 3-0 in their opener. Icardi also scored two then.

It appeared as if their return would be a miserable one after Edin Dzeko, last season’s top goal-scorer, gave Roma the lead. He chested down Radja Nainggolan’s pass and volleyed it home.

Aleksandar Kolarov hit the post seconds earlier and Roma hit the woodwork twice more through Nainggolan and Diego Perotti.

Inter leveled through Icardi from an Antonio Candreva assist in the 67th.

Icardi doubled his tally 10 minutes later, controlling Ivan Perisic’s low cross before swiveling to fire into the bottom left corner.

Matias Vecino sealed the result three minutes from time with his first goal since joining Inter from Fiorentina in the offseason.

There was controversy however, as Roma felt it should have had a penalty early in the second half when Milan Skriniar appeared to trip Diego Perotti at the byline, but the video assistant referee was not called upon and only a corner was given.

[ PL SUNDAY PREVIEW: Liverpool host Arsenal; Chelsea vs. Everton ]

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — United keep 100% record; City win late ]


Genoa 2-4 Juventus

MILAN (AP) The limitations of video review were obvious at Genoa, where Juventus fought back from two goals down to win 4-2 in Serie A on Saturday thanks to a hat trick from Paulo Dybala.

Video review (VAR) was used twice in the first half, to give both sides a penalty. However, Genoa forward Andrej Galabinov was offside before he was fouled by Daniele Rugani, while there were also grumbles about Juve’s spot kick.

Meanwhile, Benevento thought it picked up a first ever point in Serie A but the VAR ruled out what would have been a stoppage-time equalizer and it lost to Bologna 1-0.

In a frantic start, Genoa took the lead against Juventus inside 20 seconds when Miralem Pjanic inadvertently turned Goran Pandev’s cross into his own net.

Galabinov doubled Genoa’s lead six minutes later from the spot after his ankle was clipped by Rugani. It was the second penalty awarded against Juventus by video review in as many matches.

Dybala, who scored in Juve’s opening win at Cagliari last weekend, halved the deficit in the 14th minute when he fired Pjanic’s pullback into the top left corner.

And Juventus leveled in first-half stoppage time through a penalty of its own, which Dybala drove emphatically into the roof of the net after Mario Mandzukic kicked the ball onto Darko Lazovic’s hand from close range.

Juan Cuadrado had a poor match, but gave Juventus the lead shortly after the hour mark. The Colombia winger chested down Mandzukic’s pass, turned Diego Laxalt and placed the ball into the far top corner.

Dybala sealed the result in stoppage time with an accurate shot into the near corner for his first hat trick for Juventus.

Pele trashes Argentinian youngster Dybala as “overrated”

Getty Images
1 Comment

Pele knows a thing or two about good soccer players. He also knows a thing or two about the rivalry between Brazil and Argentina.

The Brazilian legend has stoked the fire between the two countries by branding Argentinian youngster Paulo Dybala as “overrated” after Brazil lost 1-0 to Argentina in a friendly in Australia.

“Paulo Dybala? He’s not as good as people say,” Pele told Italian publication Tuttosport. “They say he might be the heir to Maradona, but the only thing they have in common is that they kick with their left foot.”

[ MORE: Gabriel Jesus breaks eye socket in Brazil loss ]

Dybala has been highly touted since his days at Palermo, and Juventus pounced in July of 2015. Since, the Argentinian has impressed mightily, announcing himself to the world with a pair of goals in a 3-0 win over Barcelona in Juventus’s march this season towards the Champions League final.

The 23-year-old was held scoreless in the friendly in Melbourne, but defender Gabriel Mercado gave Argentina the victory with a goal just seconds out of the halftime break.