Maurizio Sarri

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Cristiano Ronaldo faces meeting with Juve admin, apology to teammates

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Juventus players expect an apology from Cristiano Ronaldo, who left the stadium Sunday after being subbed out of Juventus’ 1-0 defeat of AC Milan, his second-straight match as a tactical departure.

Ronaldo dodged a fine for the offense — which is great, how could he ever afford something like that? — but will also have to have a conversation with Juve administrators Fabio Paratici and Pavel Nedved.

[ MORE: Will Zlatan rejoin LA? ]

The striker is in a run of below average performances for mortals, well-below average for a player of his acumen.ips

Maurizio Sarri took him off after a one-shot, 75 percent passing performance against AC Milan, and substitute Paulo Dybala scored the match-winner. Sarri shrugged off Ronaldo’s harsh words upon exit, as one might expect,

His absence from the team room after the game did not sit well with the serial Serie A champs, and Sky Sports pundit Fabio Capello had some stinging words for CR7.

“The fact that he didn’t sit on the bench and said bad words to Sarri is not a pretty picture,” he told Sky Sports Italia. “The truth is that Ronaldo has not dribbled past an opponent for three years. I remember it when he went past players and left them there. Now it doesn’t happen anymore, while Douglas Costa and [Paulo] Dybala do it.”

We mean, there’s a real mic drop in there, but he kept going. Full marks, Fabio. Way to stay to the end, even if, uh, that’s not correct (and this particular keyboard puncher is not a Ronaldo apologist in the slightest. Grimy).

Ronaldo is still rated amongst the top performers in Serie A and it’s smart to resist the urge to say the 34-year-old is finished. And while we’d love to jinx him back into form, Capello might want to check Ronaldo’s dribble numbers. Maybe Serie A is a step down from La Liga, but he’s doing it more often.

Sarri shrugs off potential Ronaldo rift at Juventus

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Cristiano Ronaldo may be furious with Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri, but the apparent anger is definitely not mutual.

The Portuguese star was substituted off for the second time this season, and first in Serie A play, as Juventus topped AC Milan 1-0 over the weekend. After just 55 minutes, Sarri made the bold decision to yank Ronaldo, replaced by Paulo Dybala. The substitution was justified as Dybala scored the game’s only goal in the 77th minute.

Ronaldo could be clearly seen muttering under his breath as he came off the field and went straight down the tunnel. Reports came through that the 34-year-old left the stadium before the match concluded, but when Sarri was asked about it after the match, he did not chastise his star forward.

“I don’t know. If it’s true what you say then it’s a problem for him to sort out with his own teammates,” Sarri said in his post-match press conference of Ronaldo’s potential early exit. “If he gets angry at being substituted after all he has won, I’m very happy about that because it means he still has his head fully in the game and he wants to help the team at all costs.”

In fact, Sarri went so far as to praise Ronaldo for playing despite being less than 100% fit. “I have no problem with Cristiano, he should be thanked because he made himself available despite not being in the best condition,” Sarri said. “In the last month he has had discomfort in his knee and this is a little problem for him.”

While that could also be a sly ploy to get Ronaldo withdrawn from international consideration ahead of the break, it’s also a potential olive branch from the manager after doing something he knows hasn’t sit well with his superstar. Still, Ronaldo’s actions could be significant moving forward. It is well-known that he does not combine well with Dybala on the field, and the Argentinian scoring as Ronaldo’s replacement could be a massive blow to his ego. He was substituted off in the 82nd minute against Lokomotiv Moscow in Champions League play midweek, and two consecutive matches without a full 90 minutes is a rare occurrance in Ronaldo’s career.

The win leaves Juventus unbeaten on the season in all competitions, a point clear of Inter Milan atop the Serie A table. They are also leading their Champions League group with 10 points, three ahead of Atletico Madrid in Group D play with a knockout stage place already clinched.

Serie A: Ronaldo-Sarri rift opens up as Juve beat AC Milan late (video)

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ VIDEO: Taison sent off for reacting to racist abuse in Ukraine ]

Juventus 1-0 AC Milan

Paulo Dybala scored the 77th-minute winner to keep Juventus unbeaten (16 games – all competitions) on the season, but that’s hardly the top storyline coming out of the Bianconeri‘s 1-0 victory over AC Milan.

Instead, a potential rift between Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Maurizio Sarri has taken center stage after the Portuguese forward appeared thoroughly perturbed to have been subbed off in the 55th minute. It was the second straight game Ronaldo was brought off, and he appeared to give Sarri a dirty look and mutter something under his breath before heading straight down the tunnel.

It was Dybala, the game’s only goal-scorer, who replaced him. It was a beautifully worked goal for Dybala, who combined with Gonzalo Higuain before twisting past a defender and firing a right-footed shot past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The victory keeps Juve (32 points) top of the Serie A table, a point clear of Inter Milan, after a dozen games played. The journey for a ninth straight scudetto will continue with a trip to last season’s fourth-place finishers Atalanta following the upcoming international break.

Parma 2-0 Roma

Earlier on Sunday, Roma suffered another disappointing result — a 2-0 loss to Parma — to fall two points out of fourth place.

Mattia Sprocati broke a scoreless deadlock in the 68th minute, followed by a late insurance goal scored by Andreas Cornelius in the 92nd.

Parma now sit eighth in the table, just two seasons after being promoted back to Serie A and only five seasons after being forced down to Serie D.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Cagliari 5-2 Fiorentina
Lazio 4-2 Lecce
Udinese 0-0 SPAL
Sampdoria 0-0 Atalanta

Serie A roundup: Juventus, Inter Milan succumb unusual draws (video)

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Abnormal draws from Juventus and Inter Milan on the same matchday highlight Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Lecce 1-1 Juventus

With a couple of its stars resting – including Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus traveled to Lecce to take on the recently-promoted club. Shockingly, the league leaders were stunned and walked out with only a point.

Powered by the Argentine duo of Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain, the Old Lady knocked, and knocked on the home side’s door. To be exact, Juventus took 15 shots in the first half, and even though the majority came inches from being on frame, only one resulted to be on target.

Close chances soon became a regular occurrence throughout the 90 minutes.

But early in the second half, Dybala finally broke the deadlock from the spot, following a hard foul on Miralem Pjanic on the edge of the 18-year-box. It was Juventus’ game to lose.

In a way, that’s exactly what happened when Lecce earned a penalty of their own only six minutes later. Marco Mancosu converted from 12 year out, putting the underdog leveled with the league’s most lucrative side.

Luckily for Maurizio Sarri and company, Parma’s two first-half goals were too much for Inter Milan to top, as the second-place side drew their first game of the season. Juventus, despite dropping two points on Saturday, remain one point ahead of Antonio Conte‘s Inter after nine games played.

With Ronaldo likely on the teamsheet, Juventus hosts Genoa midweek, while Inter Milan travel to Brescia.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Inter Milan 2-2 Lecce

Genoa 3-1 Brescia

Six young stars of the early season in Europe

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Erling Braut Haland’s UEFA Champions League coming out party has the teenage striker’s name on the tip of the transfer market’s tongue.

The 19-year-old is being linked with Liverpool after scoring against the Reds last week to join his group stage opening hat trick against Genk.

[ MORE: USMNT players in focus ]

Haland has — no, we’re not kidding — 18 goals and five assists in 785 minutes for Jesse Marsch’s Red Bull Salzburg and is going to cost someone a pretty penny.

Here are some other top performers to start the season, names certain to move from whispers to shouts in January and beyond.

Donyell Malen, PSV Eindhoven — The 20-year-old has 10 goals in the Eredivise alone, five of which came against Vitesse, and has chipped in another six across European competition. The smallish striker — 5’9″ — is an elite passer and finisher.

Victor Osimhen, Lille — Another 20-year-old, the 6-foot plus Osimhen scored against Chelsea in the UCL and has seven goals and two assists in league play. He’s had no problems making the transition from RSC Charleroi in Belgium to Ligue 1.

Tiemoue Bakayoko, Monaco — There was no room for Bakayoko in Frank Lampard‘s midfield at Chelsea, so he’s on loan again and thriving back at Monaco. With 4.2 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game, he’s showing even better than he did when Maurizio Sarri sent him to AC Milan last season. He’s not a baby, but it might surprise you to read he’s 25.

Eberechi Eze, Queens Park Rangers — At 21 years old, Eze is chewing up minutes for QPR and boasts four goals and three assists. The R’s are a point off the playoff places in the Championship, and the free-dribbling attacking midfielder is a big part of the operation.

Aleksandr Sobolev, KS Samara — The Russian 22-year-old has reportedly caught the attention of Arsenal and Manchester United. At nearly 6-foot-4, the youngster has bagged 10 goals and three assists in 12 matches.