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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.

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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

Haaland drawing scouts from more than 20 clubs

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According to a report by The Guardian, 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haaland has drawn scouts from over 20 big clubs in recent months, and Red Bull Salzburg could be in for a big payday next summer.

The report states that Manchester United, Juventus, and Napoli seem to be the most aggressive in their approach for the teen, but the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Chelsea have all sent representatives to watch him in person.

Red Bull Salzburg is reportedly telling all clubs that they will not consider selling him this winter and that their plan is to let this season play out before starting a bidding war in the summer. Napoli reportedly contacted the club twice in recent weeks to ask about his availability but were rebuffed.

Haaland has burst onto the scene this season with 12 goals in just 10 Austrian Bundesliga matches plus another six goals in three Champions League games, making him the top scorer in both competitions. He scored a hat-trick against Genk before netting goals in losses to Liverpool and Napoli.

The report details that Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a connection with Haaland, already aware of the wonderkid’s talent from his days in charge of Molde where he coached Haaland for two seasons from 2017-2018 before both left around the same time – Solskjaer left in mid-December 2018 to head up Manchester United while Haaland departed the Norwegian club on January 1 2019 to join Red Bull Salzburg for $5.7 million.

Serie A wrap: Late Ronaldo penalty saves Juve; Smalling nets for Roma

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Italy was not happy about playing at midweek, or so it seems from the five red cards handed out across seven Wednesday matches in Serie A.

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Juventus moved back atop the table by a point over Inter Milan, but had to work to the wire for it, while Atalanta held firm against Napoli’s challenge to see two Roman clubs move into the Top Five.


Juventus 2-1 Genoa

It was supposed to be easier for The Old Lady at home against a Genoa side which hasn’t done much well this season, especially after a 51st minute red card for the visitors made a 1-1 score line appear destined to move toward the hosts.

Despite taking 20 more shots than the guests, Juve could not make it an easy win. Adrien Rabiot was sent off in the 87th minute, and Maurizio Sarri‘s men only triumphed when Cristiano Ronaldo converted a stoppage time penalty.

Napoli 2-2 Atalanta

The hosts lost a pair of leads as goals from Nikola Maksimovic and Arkadiusz Milik couldn’t deliver three points against the third place La Dea.

Remo Freuler’s 41st minute goal meant the score line was tied at halftime, and Josip Ilicic struck in the 86th minute to give Atalanta a share of the points in a match with 13 shots on frame.

Lazio 4-0 Torino

It was a bit of cakewalk for Lazio, who scored in the 25th and 33rd minute and saw Nicolas Nkoulou sent off in the 68th. Ciro Immobile scored two in the win, as 18-point Lazio is a point back of their fourth-place city rivals.

Udinese 0-4 Roma

Manchester United loanee Chris Smalling has his first Serie A goal, nodding in Roma’s second as i Lupi move back into the Top Four.

Roma led 1-0 when Federico Fazio was sent off, but still scored the game’s three remaining goals. Nicolo Zaniolo, Justin Kluivert, and Aleksandar Kolarov joined Smalling on the score sheet.

When asked about the performance, Roma boss Paulo Fonseca offered this gem:

“Most teams defend when down to 10, but we do not,” he said.

Elsewhere
Sassuolo 1-1 Fiorentina
Sampdoria 1-1 Lecce
Cagliari 3-2 Bologna
AC Milan v. SPAL — 4 p.m. ET Thursday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Juventus 10 8 2 0 18 9 9 5-0-0 3-2-0 26
 Inter Milan 10 8 1 1 22 10 12 3-1-1 5-0-0 25
 Atalanta 10 6 3 1 30 16 14 2-1-1 4-2-0 21
 Roma 10 5 4 1 18 11 7 2-2-1 3-2-0 19
 Lazio 10 5 3 2 22 10 12 3-2-0 2-1-2 18
 Napoli 10 5 3 2 20 13 7 3-1-1 2-2-1 18
 Cagliari 10 5 3 2 16 10 6 3-1-2 2-2-0 18
 Fiorentina 10 4 3 3 15 13 2 2-1-2 2-2-1 15
 Parma 10 4 1 5 15 14 1 3-0-3 1-1-2 13
 Bologna 10 3 3 4 14 15 -1 2-1-1 1-2-3 12
 Verona 10 3 3 4 7 8 -1 1-2-2 2-1-2 12
 Torino 10 3 2 5 11 16 -5 2-2-1 1-0-4 11
 AC Milan 9 3 1 5 9 13 -4 1-1-2 2-0-3 10
 Udinese 10 3 1 6 5 17 -12 3-0-3 0-1-3 10
 Sassuolo 9 3 0 6 16 18 -2 2-0-3 1-0-3 9
 Lecce 10 2 3 5 11 19 -8 0-1-3 2-2-2 9
 Genoa 10 2 2 6 13 23 -10 2-1-2 0-1-4 8
 Brescia 9 2 1 6 9 14 -5 0-1-3 2-0-3 7
 SPAL 9 2 1 6 7 16 -9 2-1-2 0-0-4 7
 Sampdoria 10 1 2 7 6 19 -13 1-2-2 0-0-5 5