Getty Images

Roma confines players to training ground after poor results

Leave a comment

Reports have surfaced that Italian club AS Roma has taken the rare step of confining its players to the training ground for the next few days after a run of poor results has left the side seventh in the Serie A table.

On Saturday, Roma held a 2-0 lead over 13th-placed Cagliari and coughed up that lead, conceding a 95th minute equalizer despite seeing the opponents reduced to just nine men two minutes prior.

According to both Sky Italia and Gianluca di Marzio, and later confirmed by Roma Radio, the club has decided to keep all players locked in the training ground for a “training retreat” through Wednesday’s Champions League fixture against Victoria Plzen. The reports state the measure is less of a concentration on the midweek fixture and more of a strictly punitive measure, as the Champions League match is meaningless, having already confirmed a spot in the knockout stage.

The reports also discuss the job security of manager Eusebio Di Francesco, with the 49-year-old reportedly safe for now, although he apparently does appear to be drawing the ire of president Jim Palotta, while currently maintaining the backing of highly regarded sporting director Monchi.

Di Francesco was furious with his team after the match on Saturday, throwing the players under the bus for mistakes on the field, and suggesting they ignored his instructions. “My team tried to kill the game off for 70 minutes and I get angry when I see some of the mistakes we make,” he told the official Roma website after the match, “when players make the wrong choice and go for goal instead of passing to a team-mate. That leads to situations like this. It’s absurd. I don’t even want to talk about tactics. We had some highly experienced players out there today who should never concede a goal like that.”

The boss then suggested he may have to get harsh on the players, possibly foreshadowing the decision to hold the retreat. “We’ve used the carrot and the stick already this season,” Di Francesco said. “I didn’t have many options today. I had lots of kids on the bench plus [Javier] Pastore and [Diego] Perotti, who aren’t at their best. When Cagliari equalized we had five experienced defenders on the pitch. Sometimes there’s little for the coach to explain. I do have to take responsibility, though. I’m absolutely gutted about this result. It was in our hands. It was an absurd game: you can’t concede an equalizer in the last 30 seconds playing 11 v nine.”

Roma has won just once in its last seven Serie A matches, with losses to bottom-half sides SPAL and Udinese in that span as well. That, coupled with a similar four-match winless run earlier in the season, has left the club in a precarious position for Champions League qualification next season, sitting four points back of fourth-placed AC Milan and eight behind third-placed Inter.

Charlton wins promotion to Championship in stoppage time

Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Charlton Athletic struck a wildly late blow to clinch the final place in the 2019-20 Football League Championship, defeating Sunderland 2-1 in Sunday’s promotion playoff at Wembley Stadium.

A stoppage time free kick in a cagey affair led to a scrum in the box, with Patrick Bauer sliding to strike a shot off a Sunderland defender and into the goal.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

The goal came at the 3:55 mark of four minutes stoppage time, and was the 26-year-old defender’s first goal of the season.

Ben Purrington had leveled the score line for Charlton after Sunderland went ahead via an early own goal. The Addicks were relegated from the Championship after the 2015-16 season, while Sunderland went down last year.

It had to feel extra special to manager Lee Bowyer, who played with Sunderland local rivals Newcastle United from 2003-06.

Pique: Copa-losing Barca still “really hurting” from UCL exit

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barcelona was the favorite to win La Liga, the UEFA Champions League, and the Copa del Rey for the majority of the season, but only claimed one.

Liverpool’s amazing comeback to beat Barca in the second leg of the UCL semifinals met Saturday’s loss to Valencia in the Copa del Rey Final to give Barca a league title alone.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Even with that La Liga advantage being decisive — Barca carried the table by 11 points over Atletico Madrid and finished 19 ahead of Real Madrid — there’s a very dour mood and promised change for the Camp Nou set.

And Gerard Pique says it all traces back to the loss against Liverpool. From The Liverpool Echo:

“I believe that if we had gotten through at Liverpool, we would have won the treble. We would have come here [to the Copa del Rey final] with a different mood, and I’m convinced we would have won the Champions League final, but that is football. We are really, really hurting.”

There are hints of a massive clear-out at Barcelona, with Lionel Messi and Pique two of the only safe bets to stay. When will Barca get over it?

Brazilian team tangles in locker room futmesa (video)

Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It was defense versus attack in the Brazil dressing room.

Neymar and Gabriel Jesus squared off with international teammates Filipe Luis and Ederson in a game of futmesa/table soccer this week.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Neymar and Filipe Luis are used to be on different sides of the field from their time in La Liga, while Jesus and Ederson are teammates at Manchester City.

Brazil is hosting this summer’s Copa America and is the favorite to win its first tournament since 2007, when it claimed its fourth in five tries.

It’s really impressive stuff for us normal to subpar athletes, even if standard for those with such deft talent.

Quite a winner from Man City’s young striker.

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.

From Goal.com:

“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).