Georgio Chiellini

Juventus
Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Juventus players, staff set to sacrifice up to $100M in wages

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Juventus players and coaches have agreed to forego pay for March, April, May, and June to the tune of approximately $100 million.

The Old Lady has been hit internally by coronavirus, with players Paulo Dybala, Blaise Matuidi, and Daniele Rugani testing positive for COVID-19.

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Italian football federation chief Gabriele Gravina has become a worldwide name during the COVID-19 crisis, and praised the move by Juve’s players and staff (via Football-Italia).

“The agreement reached by Juventus is an example for the whole system. I thank Giorgio Chiellini, his teammates and Maurizio Sarri because, in wake of the collaboration that the FIGC hopes to have in days, they placed general interests at the heart of their conversations with the club.

“Unity and solidarity in the world of football represent the first great response to the emergency we’re experiencing, and that risks becoming even more serious if we don’t resume playing soon. Only through the contribution of all the protagonists, each of them playing their part, will we make football stronger.”

More coronavirus news in soccer:

Italy defender Chiellini injured, to miss qualifier in Spain

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Italy’s preparations for a World Cup qualifier against Spain have taken a big hit following an injury to top defender Giorgio Chiellini.

The Italian soccer federation says Chiellini injured his right calf in training Friday morning and left the team, meaning he will miss both the game in Spain and another qualifier against Israel on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Italy plays Spain in Madrid in a match that will likely decide which team qualifies automatically from Group G. Both teams have five wins in addition to the draw between them last year in Turin. The loser could go into a playoff.

Chiellini was expected to start the match against Spain alongside fellow defenders Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci. It wasn’t immediately clear who will replace him.

Juventus upends Barcelona to reach Champions League semifinals

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Barcelona looked for a second straight miracle comeback in the 2016/17 Champions League, but it was not to be as the stout Juventus defense held up under heavy fire for a 0-0 draw, seeing the Italians move into the semifinals with a 3-0 aggregate advantage.

The Spanish giants held much of the possession throughout the match, with Juventus happy to absorb the pressure. Georgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci lived up to their reputation as one of the world’s best central defensive partnerships, while Alex Sandro and former Barcelona full-back Dani Alves did the work on the flanks.

Lionel Messi had the best early chance with a wide open shot near the penalty area on 20 minutes, but couldn’t direct it goalwards, firing just wide right, leaving Luis Enrique baffled at the missed opportunity. There was a scary moment just before halftime when Messi went up for an aerial challenge and was undercut by Miralem Pjanic, landing square on his cheek. Messi recovered from his fall as his cheek began to bleed, and he returned for the second half with a bandage.

Juventus had opportunities as they built themselves into the game, with Juan Cuadrado proving the most dangerous. On the other end, Juventus defenders continued to usher the Barcelona attackers into wide areas of the box, forcing them to shoot from tight angles.

Sami Khedira was booked for hauling down Luis Suarez past the hour mark, meaning he is suspended for the semifinal first leg. As the final whistle blew, it marked an enormous 530 minutes since Juventus last conceded a goal in Champions League play, a 9th minute goal by Sevilla back in November.

No threepeat: Italy keeps up surprising run with 2-0 ouster of Spain

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Georgio Chiellini scored a rare defensive goal, Andres Iniesta was nutmegged, and Italy continued to surprise at EURO 2016 by ending Spain’s hopes of a threepeat.

Why tournament powers Italy was overlooked is another debate altogether, but by the time Daniele de Rossi slipped a ball between Iniesta’s legs it was clear: Gli Azzurri are going to be as tough an out as anyone.

Chiellini’s first half goal off a scrum lifted Italy to the win, and Graziano Pelle added an insurance goal in stoppage time of a 2-0 win in Saint-Denis. Gianluigi Buffon was terrific as usual for Italy, especially on a last-minute save on Gerard Pique.

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Italy got a measure of revenge on the team that kicked them out of consecutive EURO tournaments, and Germany’s up next.

David De Gea made a fantastic, firing low and to his left to slap away a strong header from Graziano Pelle following a Alessandro Florenzi cross.

The Spanish back line left De Gea out to try on Italy’s opener, as the keeper parried Eder‘s free kick and Chiellini was one of a host of Italy players broke through.

Gerard Pique avoided a yellow card, actually any foul call, on a tackle around the hour mark, and Italy nearly made it 2-0 moments later when De Gea was caught out of position on an Italy counter. The Spanish back line broke it up.

[ MORE: Alves off to Juve ]

If you’re wondering where the write-up on Spanish chances is, take a peak below at the graphic posted by Squawka with about 25 minutes left in the second half.

When Spain was able to test the Italians, like Iniesta’s 76th minute volley and Pique’s 77th minute blast, the inimitable Gianluigi Buffon was at the ready to keep order.

Future Chelsea boss Antonio Conte had orchestrated the Italian defense in a manner fitting of ousting a champion.

Luis Suarez has issues, now FIFA must address them quickly and with conviction

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What struck me most about Luis Suarez’ (UPDATE: Official.) chomp down on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini was the Uruguayan’s immediate reaction — hands grasping at his bear-trap mouth, feigning pain, coupled with a subtle a look of dreaded realization.

The teeth grab felt like the predictable response of a man seeking to deflect guilt. The look of disbelief and misgiving, however, spoke of a man surprised by his own actions.

He will say otherwise. His team will say otherwise. Heck, all of Uruguay will say otherwise. But the director of the live production caught the moment perfectly. The proof was in the pudding and in Suarez’ case, the pudding was all over his face.

Simply stated, Luis Suarez is a biter. Why, exactly? It’s impossible to say without a psychiatric evaluation but when an adult bites three opponents in the last four years clearly that man is, at his very core, a biter. No clearer way to put it.

Admittedly, I, too, was once a biter. Of course, that was when I was two years old and my brother, three years my elder, would pick on me. ‘A defense mechanism’, my Mom would laugh years later when the topic would come up over the odd holiday dinner. ‘And a darn effective one,’ she’d note.

Damn skippy it was. But like most biters, I outgrew the move within a year or two before venturing on to other forms of self-defense like eye-poking, pinching and hair-pulling.

What can I say? I was a scrappy kid. But Suarez is a man, a man with responsibilities to himself, his family and his fans across the globe. Which is why this whole situation is so sad. The dude needs help.

Over my time as a student of the game I’ve read and listened to hundreds of hours of Suarez quotes – everything from pre-match sound to post-match pressers to interviews with that adorable Kop Kid, Finn, who interviews Liverpool players from time to time and, without fail, my reaction is always the same — Suarez comes off as an affable guy saddled with demons that he’s legitimately struggling to shed.

Today, he failed to do so and now it’s up to FIFA to impose a penalty on the striker that will work. A seven-match ban at Ajax in 2010 didn’t work. A 10-match ban at Liverpool in 2013 didn’t work. Here, FIFA needs to act quickly and with conviction.

The letter of the law allows for up to 24 matches but for me 15 matches, a fine of somewhere around $500k and, most importantly, an extensive treatment program should just about do it. It’s hard time one of, if not the best pure striker in the game gets the proper help he requires.