Getty Images

Chiellini, Jorginho headline Italy squad to face USMNT

Leave a comment

Chelsea pair Jorginho and Emerson were named to a 27-man squad ahead of the November FIFA dates, which includes a matchup against the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Some regulars also made the squad, including defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci and winger Lorenzo Insigne, but the squad also features youngsters such as Inter winger Matteo Politano, German-born Vincenzo Grifo of Hoffenheim and 18-year-old Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali.

[READ: Premier League streaming schedule]

Italy will face Portugal at the San Siro on November 17 in UEFA Nations League action, followed by the match against the USMNT three days later in Genk, Belgium. It will be interesting to see if Italy manager Roberto Mancini rests some of his veterans against the U.S., which will field a younger squad, to blood some of his youngsters in the friendly. It could be a barometer of where this young U.S. side is against a historic European power’s fellow young players.

In terms of the Premier League, Jorginho has quickly settled in to life in the Premier League with 11 league starts for Chelsea since joining this past summer. The 26-year-old is the playmaker of the side and the link between defense and attack. Emerson meanwhile has yet to feature this season in the Premier League, though he’s played five times for Chelsea between the UEFA Europa League and League Cup.

Interestingly, both players are Brazilian-born, although their international allegiance is now to Italy. Both players are of Italian descent.

Serie A: Inter win 7th straight to put pressure on off-form Juve

Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A roundup of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona win it late | Real Madrid do, too ]

Juventus 3-1 Cagliari

Juve’s unbeaten start to the season reached 11 games (10 wins) on Saturday, but Massimiliano Allegri’s side was anything but convincing in knocking off Cagliari.

Things started off as well as possible, when Paulo Dybala put the home side 1-0 ahead in the first minute, but the seven-time defending Italian champions failed to maintain that same intensity for the rest of the game and required a fair bit of fortune to secure the 3-1 result.

Joao Pedro brought the visitors back to level terms in the 36th minute, but the stalemate was short-lived. Filip Bradaric booted the ball into his own goal in the 38th minute, and it would prove to be the winner.

Still, Juve labored the ensuing 50 minutes and only extended the lead to 3-1 in the 87th minute, when Juan Cuadrado bagged his first league goal of the season. Even despite the performance, Juve remain six points clear of their closest title competition.

Inter Milan 5-0 Genoa

Speaking of the no. 1 contender for Juve’s crown, Inter Milan are the in-form team in the league right now after winning seven straight games to catapult themselves in to second place, ahead of Napoli on goal differential.

Saturday’s 5-0 demolition of Genoa came courtesy of a complete team performance — goals from Roberto Gagliardini (two), Matteo Politano, Joao Mario and Radja Nainggolan. Inter’s leading scorer (and Golden Boot contender) Mauro Icardi started the game on the bench, and remained there for 90 minutes, yet Inter waltzed to a five-goal victory.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Lazio vs. SPAL — 6:30 a.m. ET
Sampdoria vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Parma vs. Frosinone — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Sassuolo — 9 a.m. ET
Bologna vs. Atalanta — 12 p.m. ET
Udinese vs. AC Milan — 2:30 p.m. ET

Serie A: Mertens bags hat trick, Napoli close gap to Juventus

Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP
Leave a comment

Napoli find themselves just three points back of Juventus, who are yet to play this weekend, after a 5-1 demolition of Empoli on Friday.

[ MORE: Barcelona taking “cautious” approach with Messi’s broken arm ]

Dries Mertens led the five-goal charge with a hat trick, taking his tally to seven league goals on the season. Mertens was the unrivaled star of Napoli’s failed title challenge last season, and still he managed only 18 goals over the entire season.

Lorenzo Insigne opened the scoring in just the ninth minute, an expert finish tucked just inside the far post, followed by Mertens’ first of the game in the 38th. The Belgian drove through the heart of midfield before unleashing a stinging strike into the bottom corner from 22 yards out.

Empoli pulled a goal back through Francesco Caputo just before the hour mark, but Mertens quickly restored Napoli’s two-goal lead with his best effort of the day. Arriving late to the top of the penalty area, Jose Callejon’s cut-back ball found Mertens who applied a powerful, but precise, looping shot over the goalkeeper’s head and into the inside netting.

[ MORE: Football Leaks reveals documents alleging fraud against PSG ]

Arkadiusz Milik made it 4-1 with a first-time finish in the 90th minute, and Mertens picked up the game ball two minutes later, when he rounded the goalkeeper nearly 30 yards from goal and rolled the ball into the empty net.

The 31-year-old is capable of this kind of performance anytime he takes the field for Napoli. Had he broken out in such a big way a bit earlier in his career — say, 24 or 25, instead of 28 or 29 — he would have undoubtedly found himself in the Premier League. Alas, he’s carved out a plenty brilliant career for himself near the top of Serie A, with the occasional deep run in the Champions League to showcase his talents to the wider world.

This weekend’s Serie A schedule

Saturday

Inter Milan vs. Genoa — 10 a.m. ET
Fiorentina vs. Roma — 1 p.m. ET
Juventus vs. Cagliari — 3:30 p.m. ET

Sunday

Lazio vs. SPAL — 6:30 a.m. ET
Sampdoria vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Parma vs. Frosinone — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Sassuolo — 9 a.m. ET
Bologna vs. Atalanta — 12 p.m. ET
Udinese vs. AC Milan — 2:30 p.m. ET

Serie A: Mertens scores late to rescue Napoli against Roma

Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) Dries Mertens can’t stop scoring for club and country and was disappointed to be dropped to the bench for Napoli’s game against Roma on Sunday.

The Belgium international gave the perfect response with a last-minute equalizer to rescue a 1-1 draw. It was Mertens’ fourth goal in as many matches for club and country.

“I would have preferred to start from the beginning especially in a match like this. This is a really eagerly awaited match here at Napoli and I was disappointed, it’s a shame,” Mertens said.

Napoli remained second but is now six points behind leader Juventus, which is chasing a record-extending eighth Serie A title.

Inter Milan can move level on points with Napoli if it wins at fourth-placed Lazio on Monday.

“It’s a shame we didn’t win because it would have been important to pick up the three points,” a visibly dejected Mertens said. “There was a good reaction after we went behind, but we need to do more.”

Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti has rotated his squad significantly more than predecessor Maurizio Sarri and he did so again following the midweek draw against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

“If I put someone on the bench and he’s happy, I would get angry. I’ll talk to him (Mertens),” Ancelotti said.

Napoli dominated but it was Roma which took the lead in the 14th minute. Cengiz Under pulled the ball back and Edin Dzeko couldn’t control it but it came through to Stephan El Shaarawy, who fired in off the inside of the left post.

Despite having the best chances, Napoli almost found itself 2-0 down 10 minutes from halftime but defender Raul Albiol headed Dzeko’s effort off the line after the Roma forward had rounded goalkeeper David Ospina.

There was a blow for Roma shortly before the break as it lost captain Daniele De Rossi to injury.

Napoli continued to attack after the break and Jose Callejon hit the post, while it also had two goals ruled out for offside late on.

Just as it seemed as if Roma would leave with all three points, Napoli leveled in the final minute. A cross was miskicked by Callejon but came to Mertens, who fired in for his third goal in as many matches.

A stunning strike from Suso saw AC Milan put a miserable week behind it to beat Sampdoria 3-2.

The Spain forward struck shortly after the hour mark, racing down the right and cutting in before curling the ball into the far bottom corner.

Sampdoria had the meanest defense in the league, having let in just four goals in its previous nine matches but it conceded three against Milan.

Patrick Cutrone scored Milan’s opener – which was set up by Suso – and assisted the other for Gonzalo Higuain. Former Milan midfielder Riccardo Saponara also had a goal and an assist for Sampdoria.

Milan came into the game after back-to-back defeats against Inter Milan in Serie A and Real Betis in the Europa League, and was languishing in the second half of the standings.

Serie A: Ronaldo scores both goals in Juve’s comeback win

Leave a comment

A roundup of Saturday’s action in Italy’s to flight…

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 10? | Sunday preview ]

Empoli 1-2 Juventus

Juventus improved to 10 games unbeaten (nine wins) to start the Serie A season, thanks to a second-half comeback spearheaded by a pair of Cristiano Ronaldo goals.

Francesco Caputo put the home side ahead just before the half-hour mark, smashing a left-footed striker past Wojciech Szczesny from near the penalty spot. The comeback began early in the second half, when Paulo Dybala went down in the box and Juve were awarded a penalty kick.

Ronaldo hammered the ensuing spot kick past the goalkeeper to draw Juve level. 15 minutes later, the winner came in seriously stunning fashion. Blaise Matuidi played the ball to Ronaldo 25 yards from goal. He took a touch toward goal and unloaded from 22 yards out. The trajectory of the ball was impossible to track, let alone stop. It sailed toward the upper-90 and found its home in the inside netting. Massimiliano Allegri called the strike “a moment of magic.”

“Those types of moves should be shown to kids in football academies rather than boring them with theory and tactics,” he said after the game. “Tomorrow, so many of them will go out and try to imitate the feat of a superstar: By doing that they will certainly learn more than with abstract concepts.”

Juve’s lead in the title race currently stands at seven points ahead of second-place Napoli’s meeting with Roma on Sunday.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Atalanta 3-0 Parma
Torino 1-1 Fiorentina

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Sassuolo vs. Bologna — 7:30 a.m. ET
SPAL vs. Frosinone — 10 a.m. ET
Cagliari vs. Chievo — 10 a.m. ET
Genoa vs. Udinese — 10 a.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Sampdoria — 1 p.m. ET
Napoli vs. Roma — 3:30 p.m. ET