La Liga and Serie A roundup: Chicharito scores twice in Real Madrid victory, Napoli downs Sampdoria

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The season’s end of club soccer in Europe is drawing to a close with many sides still inging for better standing in their league tables.

In Spain and Italy, several matches occurred on Sunday in each country’s top-flight, and some had implications in the quest for late-year excellence.

Real Madrid 4-2 Celta Vigo: Cristiano Ronaldo was on the pitch for Real Madrid and was never substituted off, but he wasn’t necessarily the focal point of Los Blancos‘ third consecutive win. It was Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez who started the game and scored half of Real’s total to give him a four goals in the past four games. Hernandez’s first arrived as the consequence of some crafty interplay with young Colombian star James Rodriguez (also a scorer in this one), and the next one was a fine finish from Sergio Ramos’ assist. Toni Kroos’ long-range effort in the 16th minute leveled the score following Nolito’s game-opener. To make the score 2-2, Santi Mina netted an equalizer from his strike that rebounded off the post in the 28th minute.

[RELATED: Saturday’s roundup]

Sevilla 2-0 Rayo: Sevilla is doing their best to qualify for the Champions League next season, and this win over 11th place Rayo has ushered them closer to that goal. Defensive midfielder Vicente Iborra buried the first goal of the contest in the 16th minute when Diogo Figueiras set him up, and two minutes prior to the half, Daniel Carrico headed Denis Suarez’s cross into the net’s corner for the 2-0 advantage. Rayo pushed hard to generate some threatening offensive possession in the second half, and Gael Kakuta and Alejandro Pozuelo had endeavors that could’ve changed the game. Still, it was clear that Sevilla, now one point ahead of fifth-place Valencia and six points behind third-place Atletico Madrid, had more to fight for.

Other La Liga results from today

Malaga 1-1 Deportivo

Almeria 2-0 Eibar

 

Results from Saturday

Espanyol 0-2 Barcelona

Getafe CF 0-1 Levante

Real Sociedad 0-0 Villarreal

Atletico Madrid 3-0 Elche


 

Napoli 4-2 Sampdoria: An own-goal from Napoli center back Raúl Albiol gave Sampdoria the early 12th-minute lead and stunned the home supporters at the Stadio San Paolo. But the Little Donkeys, who are vying for the best finish possible with several other squads in Serie A’s top five, turned the tide rapidly. In the 31st minute, Il Doria goalkeeper Manolo Gabbiadini regretfully let in Napoli’s opener from Manolo Gabbiadini, and three minutes later, Gabbiadini fed Gonzalo Higuaín for the 2-1 lead. Lorenzo Insigne’s goal, a late effort from Sampdoria’s Luis Muriel and a penalty-kick conversion from Higuaín wrapped up the scoring, as Napoli is currently three points away from Lazio in second place.

Parma 1-0 Palermo: Parma had braved a season of financial doubt, amid reports that the club, having transportation issues and a short supply of hot water, declared bankruptcy in March. Situated deep in the table at last place, holding 16 total points on the season, little has been expected of the Crusaders. Nonetheless, based on a 1-0 victory over mid-table Palermo, it appears the Italian bottom dwellers are not calling it quits quite yet. When Antonio Nocerino buried the penalty kick after Massimo Gobbi was hauled down in the box, Parma had grabbed the key advantage needed to walk away with a confidence boosting victory, but the outfit is fifteen points away from escaping demotion with just six games left.

Other Serie A results from today

Atalanta 2-2 Empoli

Torino 2-1 Juventus (first derby win in 20 years)

Fiorentina 1-3 Cagliari

Lazio 1-1 Chievo

Verona 3-2 Sassuolo

Genoa 3-1 Cesena

 

Results from Saturday

Udinese 2-1 Milan

Inter Milan 2-1 Roma

Nuno demands ‘immediate reaction’ from struggling Wolves

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Replicating the lofty heights of last season has proven a tough task for Wolverhampton Wanderers through the first month and a half of the 2019-20 campaign, both in the Premier League and in Europe.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines: Week 6 ]

After finishing seventh in their first season back in the PL, Wolves began their first-ever Europa League adventure this summer, largely breezing through the qualification rounds to reach the group stage. That part went swimmingly. Thursday’s group play opener didn’t go so well, as Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side fell to Portuguese side Braga at home, 1-0.

Wolves began the PL with three straight draws, conceding just two goals in total. Since then, they have lost two in a row and conceded eight goals.

[ MORE: Man City’s David Silva in “likely” Inter Miami move ]

Again, we’re not even two months into the season, but Santo knows the next few games are going to be hugely important for his side. Not only does he need to keep his players’ heads from dropping during these trying times, but they also need to begin stringing together results, both in the PL and in Europe. Wolves need to bounce back, and immediately — quotes from the BBC:

“This is important. We face the reality and the reality says we not performing well so we have to analyze it and find solutions in the team to improve.

“We must react immediately. We have to take decisions and find solutions for the team because we have to come out of this situation and improve our performance so we can bounce back.”

“We are all disappointed.”

Up next for Santo’s side is a potentially tricky trip south London to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, where the Eagles have already drawn top-six hopefuls Everton and beaten newly promoted Aston Villa.

Kaka urges Neymar to stay at PSG, lead Champions League push

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LONDON (AP) From lifting the World Cup to being named the world’s best player, Kaka ascended the highs Neymar is still chasing.

So after more tumult in Neymar’s career, Kaka has some advice for his fellow Brazilian:

  • Stay at Paris Saint-Germain to lead the pursuit of Champions League glory, and the world player of the year accolades will follow.
  • Keep on maturing and maybe the forward can win a World Cup to avoid being viewed as a failure for Brazil.

“Everybody wants to give some advice or an opinion about his life,” Kaka said in an interview with The Associated Press. “He’s just a 27-year-old guy, a lot of people of the same age make mistakes and improve with that.”

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines: Week 6 ]

But Kaka’s opinions and advice could be worth listening to, even for Neymar.

After all, Kaka won the game’s top individual honors in 2007 when he was named FIFA world player of the year and collected the Ballon d’Or after winning the Champions League with AC Milan.

Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, is reeling from being jeered on his return to the PSG side last weekend after sitting out the opening four league games of the season as he pushed for a move back to Barcelona during the summer transfer window. He won’t play in the Champions League until the third group-stage game because of a suspension.

“For him I think it’s good to stay there in PSG for now,” Kaka said at the FIFA20 video game launch. “I think it’s good for him, for the club. I think PSG is always trying to build a great team to win a Champions League, so he can be the leader for this project and in my opinion, it’s good. It will be a great year for him.”

When the FIFA player awards are handed out on Monday, though, Neymar will be far from the Milan ceremony. He has never finished higher than third in the vote for the Ballon D’Or, and still lives in the shadow of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“What I believe that lacks in Neymar to accomplish the world’s best player award is a big team accomplishment,” Kaka said in London. “When he achieves this big team accomplishment, being the leader of this accomplishment — and he has a big chance for it, I am sure of — Neymar will be chosen to be announced as the world’s best player.”

Neymar is starting a third season in Paris after Barcelona could not strike a deal to re-sign the player it sold two year ago for $246 million.

“Maybe at 27, I could have made the same mistakes,” Kaka said. “And so I think this is a great opportunity for him to improve himself and to be better and mature.”

[ MORE: Man City’s David Silva in “likely” Inter Miami move ]

While Neymar has won the French league twice — the minimum expected for a team with lavish Qatari funding — he has not won a European title with the French capital club as he did with Barcelona in the 2015 Champions League final.

Neymar’s only titles with Brazil so far are gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the Confederations Cup on home soil in 2013. Neymar missed the 7-1 loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semifinals through injury and was part of the team knocked out the 2018 quarterfinals by Belgium. He also missed this summer’s Copa America, which Brazil won without him.

Kaka was part of the squad that won the 2002 World Cup, and Brazil hasn’t reached the final since then.

“Always for Brazil we have this pressure,” Kaka said. “Because we have won five World Cups, so everyone thinks about the World Cup. So, if you do a lot of good things for the national team but you don’t win a World Cup, maybe you fail.

“I don’t think it’s fair but it’s like this and this is the situation. And Neymar had an opportunity to play in two World Cups and didn’t win one with Brazil. So, our expectation with him is for him to be the guy for the next World Cup for us. I think it’s hard for him but I think every year he’s more mature, he understands his position in the national team better as well and it’s good.”

Premier League Preview: Southampton v. Bournemouth

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  • Early-season mid-table clash on the south coast
  • 10th-place Saints host 9th-place Cherries
  • 0-0, 3-3 draws in PL meetings last season

Matchweek 6 of the 2019-20 Premier League season is upon us, and the proceedings are set to kick off on Friday when a pair of south coast clubs, Southampton and Bournemouth, do battle (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Both sides enter the clash at St. Mary’s Stadium on the back of a victory last weekend in PL action. It’s Bournemouth whose triumph last time out was wildly impressive, though, as Eddie Howe’s side cruise to a 3-1 win over top-six hopefuls Everton at Vitality Stadium. However, Saints have proven a real nightmare of an away day for the Cherries as they’re in search of their first-ever win away to Southampton (15 previous tries, beginning in 1953 – all competitions).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Southampton secured their most recent victory when they traveled to newly promoted, 10-man Sheffield United. Home form has been a bit worrying for Saints early this season, until you consider they’ve hosted none other than Liverpool and Manchester United at St. Mary’s… until you look back to last season and realize they have won just five of their last 21 at home. On the plus side, Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side has been much improved since conceding five goals in the first two games of the season. Since then, just one goal which came in a 1-1 draw with Man United.

Injuries/suspensions

Southampton: OUT – Kevin Danso (suspension); QUESTIONABLE – Nathan Redmond (ankle), Michael Obafemi (hamstring); PROBABLE – Ryan Bertrand (ankle)

Bournemouth: OUT – Charlie Daniels (knee), Lloyd Kelly (ankle), Dan Gosling (hip), David Brooks (ankle), Junior Stanislas (knee), Simon Francis (fitness); QUESTIONABLE – Chris Mepham (undisclosed), Arnaut Danjuma (foot)


Projected lineups

Southampton: Gunn – Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard – Soares, Romeu, Hojberg – Ward-Prowse, Boufal – Adams, Ings

Bournemouth: Ramsdale – Stacey, Cook, Ake, Rico – Wilson, Billing, Cook, King – Solanke, Wilson


What they’re saying

Ralph Hasenhuttl, on Southampton’s defensive improvement: “This season it’s not the case that we don’t give them any chances, they still have chances because it’s very difficult in the Premier League to not give them a chance. Also the goalkeepers Angus (Gunn) and Alex (McCarthy) make a good development this season and the back five were very concentrated. It is good to see things develop that you have been working on. This can hopefully continue.”

Eddie Howe, on the budding south coast rivalry: “It should be a really feisty game, a really good atmosphere and an entertaining match. Southampton have started very well, too. It’s gaining in everybody’s focus. The more games we have, the more the rivalry will intensify I think. We’ve enjoyed the games against Southampton which have been tight and tough, from both clubs’ perspectives. We’re looking forward to another entertaining match.”


Prediction

Southampton have been far more convincing in their defending than Bournemouth on the attack. It’ll likely be a game of precious few high-value chances. In the end, neither Saints get the elusive home win nor the Cherries get the first victory at Southampton. Final score: 1-1.

The 2 Robbies podcast: Champions League, Europa League return

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle reflect on the opening round of UEFA Champions League and Europa League fixtures.

Manchester City bounced back from their defeat at Norwich. Who is ready to step up and lead Tottenham (8:00)? Liverpool slipped up at Napoli (19:00). There was penalty drama at Chelsea (30:00). The Robbies look ahead to the weekend’s marquee matchup: Chelsea v. Liverpool (37:00), before wrapping up with Arsenal (41:00), Manchester United (45:00), and Wolves’ opening Europa League matches (51:30).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

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