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Napoli takes commanding Serie A lead after Juventus loss

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Six-time Serie A defending champions Juventus are in trouble. Not a lot, but the heat has been turned up.

A wild 3-2 loss to Sampdoria means the Italian giants are now four points back of Napoli in the Serie A table, and heading into their Champions League matchup with Barcelona, there is plenty of soul-searching to do in Turin.

Juventus nearly mounted what would have been a monumental comeback, down 3-0 heading into stoppage-time but posting goals by Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala in the first and fourth minutes of injury time. It was not to be, and the four-point deficit through 13 games not only leaves Juventus looking at Napoli more than a game in front of them, but also over their shoulders at Roma and Inter Milan both a point behind in third and fourth.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was kept out of the lineup as he continues to deal emotionally with the World Cup miss, and it showed. After a scoreless first half at Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Duzan Zapata beat Stephan Lichtensteiner in the air and sent a looping header over a flatfooted Wojciech Szczesny for the opening goal.

With 20 minutes to go, Sampdoria struck again as former Premier League creator Gaston Ramirez fed 21-year-old Lucas Torreira at the top of the box, and with nobody closing him down, he fired into the bottom-left corner of the net. They got the eventual winner nine minutes later after an embarrassing defensive breakdown by the visitors. A free-kick saw two attackers in front of net against five defenders, but somehow Gianmarco Ferrari was completely unmarked in front of the net for a tap-in.

Higuain struck from the penalty spot and Dybala hit on the counter to beat Emiliano Vivaldo at his near post, but it wasn’t enough for Juventus. The defensive frailty will need to be corrected moving forward, as they face a vital match at Napoli on December 1st, and a loss there could spell disaster for their title charge.

Czech forward Schick moves to Roma in record deal for club

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ROME (AP) Roma has completed the signing of forward Patrik Schick from Sampdoria in a club record deal adding up to around 42 million euros ($51 million).

The 21-year-old Schick, who flew into Rome on Monday night, underwent medical tests on Tuesday before agreeing a five-year contract.

[ MORE: PST’s PL transfer needs ]

Roma says: “The agreement includes an immediate loan fee of 5 million euros and, upon the completion of certain sporting objectives, an obligation to make the transfer permanent for a further 9 million euros.”

The deal also includes performance-related bonuses worth up to 8 million euros, while Sampdoria is entitled to a final payment of at least 20 million euros in February 2020.

Schick joined Sampdoria last year and the Czech Republic forward scored 11 goals in his first campaign in Serie A.

Newcastle to pry $15 million Praet away from Sampdoria

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Reports in Italy say Newcastle’s nightmarish start to the season may get a prime reinforcement in former Anderlecht midfielder Dennis Praet, now of Sampdoria.

Praet, 23, has a single cap for Belgium and played 34 times for Sampdoria during his first season with the Serie A club. He played 84 minutes of the Genoese club’s 2-1 season-opening win over Benevento this weekend.

[ MORE: Wood to Burnley; Clucas to Swans ]

He arrived from Anderlecht last season for just under $12 million, and Newcastle’s reported cost for his services will be right around $15 million.

More than capable in his own end and productive in moving play along, he’d play a bit deeper in Newcastle’s midfielder.

With Jonjo Shelvey suspended, Isaac Hayden had a feast or famine partner in on-loan Borussia Dortmund mid Mikel Merino in the Magpies’ disappointing 1-0 Sunday loss at Huddersfield Town.

Where will Jack Wilshere play next season? Sampdoria linked

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Arsene Wenger plans on having Jack Wilshere back at the Emirates Stadium this season after a loan campaign at Bournemouth, but it’s not for lack of suitors.

And with one year left on his deal at Arsenal, could the Gunners cash in at the risk of losing the midfielder for free?

[ MORE: USMNT stock up, stock down ]

Sampdoria looks set to test that with a $7.8 million bid that could rise to approximately $10 million if Wilshere thrives for the Genoese club.

A report claimed that Arsenal will only loan Wilshere if he signs a new deal at the Emirates, and that Crystal Palace wants that move.

Wilshere made 27 appearances for Bournemouth, notching two assists. He had some outstanding performances and was probably slightly more effective than he was as an Arsenal man. Better when pushed forward or set back than a box-to-box center mid, Wilshere can help change a team.

La Liga & Serie A: Real takes advantage of Barca result and more

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Madrid 3-0 Real Sociedad

While the rest of La Liga’s top-tier sides all faltered over the weekend, Real Madrid has created some separation at the top of the league following their solid performance at the Santiago Bernabeu. Mateo Kovacic put Los Blancos in front prior to halftime, while Cristiano Ronaldo dazzled for the game’s second and Alvaro Morata put the finishing touches on the effort for the hosts. Sociedad looked on the back foot all afternoon, and Iñigo Martínez’s second-half red card summed up the match for the fifth-place side.

Real Betis 1-1 Barcelona

The Blaugrana slipped up in a big way on Sunday, although Luis Enrique’s side surely wasn’t aided by the game’s officiating. Luis Suarez rescued the visitors in the 90th minute after Betis took the lead 15 minutes prior through Alex Alegria. However, it was the game’s refereeing in the dying minutes that cost Barca dearly.

Neymar was on the receiving end of a nasty takedown inside the penalty area with under a quarter hour to play, but the official opted to not blow his whistle. Then, an own goal was missed after Betis defender Aissa Mandi cleared the ball away after the ball had already crossed the line.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Espanyol 3-1 Sevilla
Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Sporting Gijon

 


Sampdoria 3-2 Roma

Despite getting off to a fast start, Roma succumbed to midtable side Sampdoria at Comunale Luigi Ferraris. The visitors led on two separate occasions on Sunday but a pair of late finishes from Patrik Schick and Luis Muriel ensured that Sampdoria would come away with all three points. Roma now sit four points behind leaders Juventus, although the Bianconeri hold a game in hand.

Sassuolo 0-2 Juventus

Gonzalo Higuain is up to 15 goals on the season and Sami Khedira added the second for Juventus before halftime to give the Bianconeri a more comfortable lead at the top of Serie A. The loss for Sassuolo leaves the bottom half side in 16th place, however, the side is still 11 points above the drop zone.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Torino 1-1 Atalanta
Cagliari 1-1 Bologna
Crotone 4-1 Empoli
Fiorentina 3-3 Genoa
Udinese 2-1 AC Milan
Napoli 1-1 Palermo