Italy Roundup: Ex-Man City stars decide Milan derby; Relegation a mess

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While the very top of the table’s been a bit of a yawn — in fitting fashion Juventus clinched the league while waiting to play on Monday — the relegation fight and scrap for fourth remains interesting.

Juve, Roma and Napoli will finish 1, 2, 3 barring a brutal collapse from Napoli and a red-hot finish from Fiorentina. After that, though, there’s plenty to be settled. Five teams remain in play to be relegated, while a hand full can still settle into a Europa League spot.

But we begin with the Milan derby, where AC Milan made the best of a mess of a season by trumping visiting Inter 1-0 in a dirty affair. A pair of former Manchester City players keyed the win, with Nigel de Jong heading home Mario Balotelli’s pass in the 65th minute.

The three points mean AC Milan can still find the Europa League, while Inter is extremely unlikely to catch Fiorentina for fourth, with Viola four points ahead with a match in hand to be played on Tuesday. Inter looked lifeless for much of the game.

Catania pushed Livorno into the basement with a 4-1 thumping of Roma. Argentine playmaker Mariano Izco scored a brace within eight minutes to make it 2-0 in the 34th minute. The goals were just his second and third of the season, and boosted Catania — still winless at home — to within three points of safety.

Bologna picked up a point in a 0-0 draw at Genoa to temporarily stay ahead of the drop but will have wanted more with Sassuolo yet to play this week. Chievo stayed in danger with a 1-0 home loss to Torino, while Livorno played a thrilling 5-3 match with Udinese… but thrilling means little in a loss.

Down in Serie B, if you’re wondering, only Palermo has clinched promotion.

Elsewhere

  • Catania 4-1 Roma – Francesco Totti’s 37th minute goal was the only moment of fun for the visitors.
  • Chievo 0-1 Torino — Only a 54th minute Gennaro Sardo own-goal broke up the malaise in Verona.
  • Genoa 0-0 Bologna — If you find matches with only three combined shots on goal pretty exciting, this one was for you.
  • Udinese 5-3 Livorno – It was 5-2 at halftime, with Paulinho striking twice for Livorno and a brace for Antonio Di Natale leading three Udinese goal scorers. Only Djamel Mesbah scored in the second half as Livorno slipped to 20th.
  • Parma 2-0 Sampdoria – Cassano scored early (8′) and Schelotto scored late (90′) as Parma stayed alive for Europe.
  • Juventus vs. Atalanta – Monday
  • Lazio vs. Verona — Monday
  • Fiorentina vs. Sassuolo — Tuesday
  • Napoli vs. Cagliari — Tuesday

Standings

 

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Juventus 35 30 3 2 75 23 52 17-0-0 13-3-2 93
Roma 36 26 7 3 72 23 49 15-3-0 11-4-3 85
Napoli 35 20 9 6 64 36 28 11-4-2 9-5-4 69
Fiorentina 35 18 7 10 59 38 21 9-3-5 9-4-5 61
Inter Milan 36 14 15 7 57 36 21 7-9-2 7-6-5 57
Torino 36 15 10 11 55 45 10 9-5-4 6-5-7 55
Parma 36 14 12 10 55 45 10 8-7-3 6-5-7 54
AC Milan 36 15 9 12 54 46 8 10-4-4 5-5-8 54
Lazio 35 14 10 11 49 47 2 9-5-3 5-5-8 52
Verona 35 16 4 15 56 58 -2 10-2-6 6-2-9 52
Atalanta 35 14 5 16 40 47 -7 10-3-5 4-2-11 47
Sampdoria 36 12 8 16 43 54 -11 7-5-6 5-3-10 44
Udinese 36 12 6 18 41 52 -11 9-3-6 3-3-12 42
Genoa 36 10 11 15 38 46 -8 7-5-6 3-6-9 41
Cagliari 35 9 12 14 34 46 -12 8-4-6 1-8-8 39
Chievo 36 8 6 22 31 53 -22 5-2-11 3-4-11 30
Bologna 36 5 14 17 27 55 -28 3-8-7 2-6-10 29
Sassuolo 35 7 7 21 34 65 -31 4-2-12 3-5-9 28
Catania 36 6 8 22 30 64 -34 6-6-6 0-2-16 26
Livorno 36 6 7 23 39 74 -35 4-5-9 2-2-14 25

Chicharito says Mexican team “always feels welcome” in the United States

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Mexico will take on Wales on Monday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA as they warm up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Playing in the United States is nothing new for the USMNT’s southern neighbors, and it doesn’t phase them. In fact, they love it.

Star striker Chicharito told reporters that he and the rest of the squad is more than happy playing north of the border, because according to him, apart from a pair of venues, they can’t even tell they’re on the road.

“We always feel welcome here,” Chicharito said. “It’s like our second country, if we can say that, apart from Columbus [Ohio] and apart from the stadium in Miami when we played Colombia…those two stadiums, that’s the only time I’ve felt that we were the away team.”

Chicharito knows that the high population of his countrymen and women in the United States helps the Mexican team feel close to home when they play over the border. He’s all for the melting pot of the US.

“We feel at home [in the United States],” Chicharito said. “We have plenty of Mexicans here, so I don’t know what else to tell you, we feel welcome, we feel glad, happy to be in touch with those people here. They are sacrificing a lot of things, and they are all enjoying their lives that they decide to live in the USA…it’s great. It’s great when you come to another country and you feel like you are home. You see all the stadium green, shouting and screaming your names, screaming your goals, so yeah, it’s great.”

Mexico will play Wales on Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET, and will return home to take on Scotland at Azteca on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET.

England international Delph expecting child in middle of World Cup

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England international Fabian Delph could face quite the dilemma if England advances past the group stage of the World Cup.

Delph’s wife Natalie is expecting the couple’s third child on June 30, which is two days after their pivotal group stage match against Belgium, and two days before the squad would take the field July 1 for its Round of 16 game should they win Group G. If they finish second in the group, they would play their Round of 16 game on July 3.

When asked what his plans are, Delph joked that his wife would manage on her own. “She’s tough, she’s a Yorkshire lass so she’ll deal with it,” Delph said with a smile.

He then coughed up the truth: they’re not quite sure what the plan is.

“We’re not 100% certain, with a game on the 28th there might be an opportunity to fly back and then get back fast,” he said. “[England manager] Gareth [Southgate] has been fantastic. There’s nothing more important than family to me – family always comes first and always will.”

There’s another dilemma that Southgate must navigate involving Delph. The 28-year-old is a natural winger, but played wing-back in Pep Guardiola‘s title-winning system for much of the year and saw a massive uptick in form in the new role, playing in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy. Southgate must decide where he wants to deploy Delph – if at all – and if he wishes to fit his formation and tactics to mold Delph’s season under Guardiola.

Authorities drop assault charges against Hope Solo

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KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors in Washington state have dropped domestic violence charges against former U.S. national team star goalkeeper Hope Solo.

Solo was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault in 2014 after police said she assaulted two family members at a home in Kirkland, east of Seattle. The case was delayed by appeals.

KING-TV reports that city prosecutors dropped the charges Wednesday, saying the witnesses in the case wanted to move on with their lives and did not want to participate in a trial. An attorney for Kirkland, Melissa Osman, wrote in court documents that the circumstances were unlikely to be repeated.

The longtime national team goalkeeper and two-time Olympic gold medalist recently ran unsuccessfully for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. She has called for equal pay and equal treatment for the U.S. women’s team.

Mark Hughes signs new long-term contract at Southampton

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Mark Hughes has gone from Stoke City outcast to Southampton savior in little under six months time.

The Welsh boss was let go from Stoke City with the Potters 18th in the table and headed towards eventual relegation, but he was picked up by fellow relegation candidates Southampton after the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino. He steered the club to safety, finishing three points above the drop in 17th.

With the Saints in the top flight for another season, the club has announced the signing of Hughes to a new three-year contract.

“Mark, Eddie and I are thrilled to have signed long-term contracts with the club. It was the only option we considered, having spent the last eight weeks with the club,” Hughes said of himself and his assistant coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki. “Now it is vital that we take the unbelievable support we received from the fans during the last few games into next season. The staff and the players will work hard every day to deliver the success this club deserves, and with everyone pulling together we will achieve our goals.”

Hughes guided Stoke City to three consecutive ninth-placed finishes, the highest the club had ever finished in the English top flight, but they finished 13th last year and regressed even further this campaign. The sale of playmaker Marko Arnautovic was particularly damaging, and the club scored just 35 goals in 38 games as a result.

At Southampton, Hughes took over a club that sat in 17th with just eight matches to go. He lost three Premier League games in a row to start his tenure and only won two league matches with Saints the rest of the way, but managed to keep the club barely afloat.