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Giuseppe Rossi faces one-year ban for doping case in Italy

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ROME (AP) Former Italy forward Giuseppe Rossi’s injury-plagued career has taken another negative turn with a positive doping test.

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Italy’s anti-doping agency Nado Italia announced on Tuesday that Rossi will stand trial next week after testing positive for an eye drug that can be used as a masking agent.

The anti-doping prosecutor is seeking a one-year ban.

The test was taken in May while Rossi played for Genoa at the end of the last Serie A season.

Rossi is currently out of contract.

Dorzolamide, the substance that Rossi tested positive for, is not banned when administered with eye drops but Rossi told anti-doping authorities that he did not use eye drops when he was questioned twice, in June and July.

Rossi had no immediate comment.

The 31-year-old Rossi was born in the United States but played for Italy from 2008-14. His career has been slowed by a series of knee injuries.

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Juve’s Douglas Costa banned 4 games for spitting

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus winger Douglas Costa has been banned for four Serie A matches after a spitting incident on Sunday.

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The Brazil international was sent off near the end of Juventus’ 2-1 win over Sassuolo after he spat at midfielder Federico Di Francesco. Costa had also raised an elbow at the same player and attempted a head-butt.

The Italian soccer federation announced his ban Tuesday, with the winger set to miss matches against Frosinone, Bologna, Napoli and Udinese.

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Costa has already apologized for the incident on social media — via Google Translate:

“I would like to apologize to all of Juventus fans for this misleading reaction in today’s game. I also apologize to my teammates, who are always with me in good times and bad. I was ugly, I am aware and I apologize to everyone for it. I make it clear that this isolated attitude does not match what I have always shown in my career.”

UEFA Nations League: Italy draws at home, Cheryshev scores again

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The UEFA Nations League continued on Friday, and there was a clear competitive edge to the matches, moreso than the usual friendly contested between to nations during an otherwise meaningless international break.

Italy was forced to come from behind to earn a point at home against Poland in a 1-1 draw. Mario Balotelli earned his first competitive appearance since 2014, but young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was needed early to keep out Piotr Zielinski in the opening 15 minutes who broke free on goal.

Italy had a spell of attacking possession on the half-hour mark, but it came to nothing, and they were punished for it. Mateusz Klich dispossessed Chelsea midfielder Jorginho in the Italy third, and Robert Lewandowski’s cross fell to an unmarked Zielinski at the back post who finished easily for the 1-0 first-half lead. The Italians proved dangerous in the second half, and they earned an equalizer. Federico Chiesa came on in place of Lorenzo Insigne, and he was immediately effective. He earned a penalty with 14 minutes to go on a tackle by Jakub Blaszczykowski, who was lucky to stay on the field, already on a yellow from early in the match. Jorginho struck from the spot to level the score.

Russia traveled to Trabzon to take on Turkey, but it was the visitors who scored first, and a familiar name at that. Denis Cheryshev, who was massively influential in Russia’s surprising run at the World Cup over the summer, struck in the 13th minute with a powerful left-footed volley to put Russia 1-0 up. Before halftime, the hosts leveled as Galatasaray defender Serdar Aziz with a volleyed howitzer of his own. Russia retook the lead after the break through Artem Dyzuba

Romania drew Montenegro 0-0, although it wasn’t without controversy as Aleksandar Boljevic was brought down in the penalty area after just eight minutes, but no call was made. Romania had a few chances before the break, but otherwise there was little to speak of. Montenegro striker Stefan Mugosa was sent off for a second yellow with 13 minutes to go.

Aleksandr Mitrovic earned a penalty and Dusan Tadic scored from the spot as Serbia took down Lithuania on the road 1-0. Albania topped Israel 1-0 on a goal by Taulant Xhaka, the brother of Arsenal midfielder and Swiss international Granit Xhaka. The Faroe Islands topped Malta 3-1 for a big win, the country’s second win in a row and third in its last six matches.

Chiellini keen to help Italy after int’l retirement U-turn

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Veteran Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini is keen to use his experience to help the Azzurri youngsters after going back on his decision to retire from international duty.

[ MORE: What is the UEFA Nations League, and how does it work? ]

Chiellini, 34, was one of a number of players who announced they were quitting the national team after November’s playoff loss to Sweden saw Italy fail to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in nearly six decades.

However, he’s now back in the squad for the opening UEFA Nations League matches against Poland and Portugal.

“I did weigh up a few things, discussed it with my friends,” Chiellini said on Thursday. “I didn’t know if I would return, but I think that already by the next morning I had dragged myself away from that, I let all those thoughts go above my head.

“There is an atmosphere of calm, of great desire to do something, to look forward, to not think what happened. The enthusiasm that youngsters give you carries you along. Moreover, in Italy you cannot leave the national team. I hope that I will never be a problem for this group.”

Italy hosts Poland in Bologna on Friday then visits Portugal three days later. They are Roberto Mancini’s first competitive matches in charge and the Azzurri’s first since the playoff defeat.

In the absence of Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele De Rossi – who are not quite retired from international duty and available if called upon – Chiellini has been given the captain’s armband.

[ MORE: Predicting the UEFA Nations League ]

“I consider myself one of the captains of this team,” said Chiellini, who has worn the armband three times before. “There are others currently out of the side, like Daniele or Gigione, who are still playing.

“There are many young, talented players who I can perhaps help with my experience and the fact that I’m accustomed to playing at certain levels, to make them understand that something that you need in order to play with a bit more consistency. But there’s talent, it’s not true that it’s lacking.”

Chiellini needs four more appearances for Italy to reach the 100 mark, which would move him up to seventh in the all-time list for the Azzurri.

“I have never put limits on myself,” the Juventus defender said. “I’m happy to be part of this group. However, I would still be calm and happy if in October I wasn’t here.

“The number of appearances is a thought but not a priority. If I’m here it’s because I care. I like to take it day by day.”

Mancini’s training sessions are music to the ears

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Italy coach Roberto Mancini is trying something new to motivate his players.

For the first time in Italy training sessions, music is being played from a speaker attached to a mobile phone.

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“It’s a new thing. I’ve been here for three years and until now I’ve only heard it in the changing room,” Italy and AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma said on Tuesday.

“Yesterday, we trained with a bit of music, it seemed strange to me, and I asked the goalkeeping coach. He explained to me that Mancini likes working like this because it gives a bit of extra enthusiasm.”

The playlist for Monday’s session included the likes of Queen, Miley Cyrus, The Rolling Stones, and The Killers. Interestingly, there wasn’t a single Italian song played.

Mancini is trying everything as he tries to haul Italy out of its lowest point, after missing the World Cup for the first time in nearly six decades.

Italy hosts Poland in Bologna on Friday then visits Portugal three days later. They are Mancini’s first competitive matches in charge and the Azzurri’s first since failing to qualify for the World Cup last November.

Music is not the only new thing in the Italy training camp. Five players received their first callups, although 17-year-old Monaco forward Pietro Pellegri has pulled out with injury.

Mancini launched an appeal on Monday for Italian clubs to play Italians and to have the “courage” to use young players but Nicolo Barella believes it is up to them to prove they’re worth the risk.

“It is up to us who are playing to try to always improve more and raise the level while waiting for others to come through to give us a hand in the national team,” the 21-year-old Cagliari midfielder said.

“There are talented Italian youngsters, who are ready to take the step up. We just have to wait and have faith.”

Barella has been called up by Mancini before but has yet to play for the senior national team.

Fiorentina midfielder Marco Benassi agreed with Mancini, having worked under coaches who have given him the chance and others who have kept him sidelined.

“Mancini is right, you need courage to send youngsters onto the pitch,” the 23-year-old Benassi said. “(Andrea) Stramaccioni had that when he gave me my debut at 18 with Inter.

“At Torino, I spent two months on the bench and so two years ago, I told myself there wasn’t any space for me, I don’t know if that was because of technique or age. However, I decided to change clubs and I was right.”

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