Getty Images

Buffon back at Juventus after one season at PSG

Leave a comment

TURIN, Italy (AP) Gianluigi Buffon is back at Juventus.

The longtime Bianconeri goalkeeper was undergoing medical tests with Juventus on Thursday, after which he was expected to sign a one-year contract with the club for 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million).

It’s a return for the 41-year-old Buffon after one season away at Paris Saint-Germain.

Juventus posted pictures and videos of Buffon signing autographs for fans outside the club’s training facility before he went inside for the tests.

Buffon is expected to serve as the reserve goalkeeper behind starter Wojciech Szczesny. He needs eight appearances to overtake former AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini as the most capped player in Serie A history. Buffon has 640 appearances in the Italian league; Maldini has 647.

After this season, Buffon is expected to become a member of Juventus’ management.

A year ago, Buffon joined PSG from Juventus on a one-season deal with an option for a second year. It was announced a month ago that PSG and Buffon had decided not to take up the option.

Buffon played 25 times for PSG, sharing duties with Alphonse Areola, and won the French league to add to his multiple titles.

Buffon spent 17 years at Juventus after joining from Parma in 2001 and established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

He won nine Serie A titles with the Bianconeri, including four successive league and cup doubles.

Buffon also made a record 176 international appearances for Italy, helping the Azzurri win the 2006 World Cup.

One of the few trophies missing from Buffon’s glittering collection is the Champions League. He lost three finals in that competition with Juventus.

More AP soccer: and

Netherlands outlasts Italy to reach World Cup semis

Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Netherlands joined the U.S. women’s national team and England in the semifinals of the 2019 Women’s World Cup by beating Italy in a sweltering war of attrition on Saturday.

[ HIGHLIGHTS: USWNT holds off France in riveting quarterfinal ]

It’s the first time they have ever reached the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup, in just their second appearance.

With the temperature over 90 degrees and the sun shining brightly for a 3 p.m. local time kickoff, both sides were forced to deal with the hardly ideal conditions, and the Dutch had much more left in the tank when the game’s final 20 minutes rolled around. That was the clear and obvious difference.

The goals didn’t come until the 70th and 80th minutes, but the Oranje were firmly on the front foot for much of the second half and were the only side that ever looked like breaking through.

Vivianne Miedema scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal, her third of the tournament, with a perfectly executed flicked header from a free kick.

[ MORE: Rapinoe happy to silence haters, happier to make loved ones proud ]

Once the Italian backline had given way, it didn’t take long for the Netherlands to score a second goal and put the game to bed. Once again, it was a header from a free kick that unlocked the goalmouth. Stefanie van der Gragt rose highest at the back post and made thunderous contact with the ball to make it 2-0.

The Dutch will face the winner of Saturday’s other quarterfinal, between Germany and Sweden, on Wednesday in Lyon.

Watch Live: Italy v. Netherlands, Germany v. Sweden in WWC QF

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The first of two 2019 Women’s World Cup semifinals is set after England and the U.S. women’s national team each advanced this week, leaving just two spots up for grabs.

[ LIVE: Stream Italy v. Netherlands, followed by Germany v. Sweden ]

Those places will be won on Saturday, when Italy faces the Netherlands in quarterfinal no. 3, followed by Germany versus Sweden.

Saturday’s winners will meet in semifinal no. 2 in Lyon on Wednesday.

[ HIGHLIGHTS: USWNT holds off France in riveting quarterfinal ]

Click on the link above to watch the game live online or via the NBC Sports App in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes.

Italy tops China 2-0 to advance to Women’s World Cup quarterfinals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

China proved dangerous in spurts but disorganization at the back allowed Italy to feast and take home a 2-0 win, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup. Goals from Valentina Giacinti and substitute Aurora Galli did the business as Italy picked up its first-ever knockout stage win.

The Italians were predictable in the match, coming into the game as the team called for the most offside infractions as they look to break opposition back lines. They roared of the gates with that same strategy and pressed for an early opener.

Italy had the ball in the back of the net just 10 minutes in via Valentina Giacinti on the break but it was correctly flagged for offside, the fourth goal ruled out for offside this tournament for Italy who likes to test the fortitude of the opposition back line. Minutes later a horrible Chinese turnover by Han Peng at the back led to a shot by Giacinti but she just missed the top-right corner with the goalkeeper out of position.

They would find the opener in the 15th minute in a scrum in front of the goal mouth, with the Chinese goalkeeper coming out to clatter Elisa Bartoli, and the ball fell to Giacinti who finished strong. The Chinese again were scattered defensively, unable to stop the cutting delivery from Barbara Bonansea that set up the chance.

The opener seemed to ignite China’s attack and they began to push forward for an equalizer. In the 28th minute Wang Yan produced an absolutely stunning long-distance shot with the outside of her right boot, curling a fabulous strike destined to finish under the crossbar and forcing Italian goalkeeper Laura Giuliani to acrobatically leap for an equally impressive save.

Italy nearly caught China out of sorts again, but Cristiana Girelli fired just wide and was fractionally offside anyways. Moments later they broke again as Valetina Bergamaschi remained onside and got through, forcing Peng Shimeng to produce a stunning save diving to her right. Italy was then dealt a blow late in the first half as Girelli was forced off by the 90-degree heat, replaced by Aurora Galli. China struck the post soon after with a set-piece header, but the offside flag went up.

After the break, Italy doubled the lead in the 50th minute off another sloppy turnover by China at the back as Galli the substitute fired a speculative low effort from outside the penalty area that found the bottom corner and beat a surprised Shimeng.

That would do it for Italy as they sat back and allowed China to work in the attacking third, but Italy’s stout defensive shape kept the Asian side at bay. They pressed forward on the counter and provided an entertaining second half, but the scoreline was never in doubt as Italy progressed to the quarterfinals while China failed to reach that stage for the first time ever.

Report: El Shaarawy set to move to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to a report by Italian publication Il Tempo, Roma winger Stephan El Shaarawy is transferring to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.

The 26-year-old is coming off one of the best seasons of his career as Roma’s leading scorer with 11 goals and named to the WhoScored team of the season based on their rating system. Still, he is heading into the final year of his contract with the club and talks have reportedly stalled on a new deal.

The report states that Roma is close to agreeing on a deal with Shanghai worth $20.5 million that is desperately needed by the club to balance the books. El Shaarawy will reportedly sign a three-year deal with the Chinese club and will earn a whopping $14.8 million per year after tax.

The Italian international will join Odion Ighalo at Shanghai, with the team coached by former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores who joined in December. The club has struggled mightily in his first season in charge, winning just its third match of the year last time out on Friday having played 14 thus far, putting them in 12th out of 16 top flight teams.

It will be interesting to see how the transfer potentially affects El Shaarawy’s status with the Italian national team, which has infamously frozen players out in the past for moving to clubs outside of Europe, including Sebastian Giovinco who was left out of the squad repeatedly despite performing exceptionally well for years in Major League Soccer. El Shaarawy would be the only current Italian international to play in the Chinese league, so there is little precedent for this particular league as of yet. He owns 23 caps for the national team and was an unused substitute in their last match, a 2-1 Euro qualifying win over Bosnia & Herzegovina on June 11.

The Il Tempo report also says that Edin Dzeko and Kostas Manolas will be sacrificed as the club looks to raise funds to ensure a net gain during the year. Dzeko is heavily linked with Inter, while Manolas is connected to Napoli.