AC Milan’s first win following three consecutive losses headlines Saturday’s Serie A action.
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Genoa 1-2 AC Milan
Cathartic: the word that best summarizes AC Milan’s victory in Genoa, because even though only a goal separated Milan and Genoa after 90 minutes, the game had one too many subplots.
Lasse Schöne opened the scoreline for the home side, scoring from a direct free-kick from distance – a strike Pepe Reina could have saved with ease – minutes before both teams headed into the dressing room. As a result, the pressure was on Milan, who had been distracted by the growing rumors of Marco Giampaolo’s sacking leading up to the game.
What a response they gave.
Just within 12 minutes of the second half whistle, I Rossoneri responded with two goals of their own. The second, scored by midfielder Franck Kessie from the penalty spot, put the visitors up 2-1 against a 9-men Genoa.
Late in the game, with the villain title already on his back, Reina caused more troubles for Milan, rewarding Genoa with the penalty of their own. The Spanish veteran, however, redeemed himself, stopping Genoa’s strike from the spot. The 37-year-old quickly went from villain to hero.
With some pressure off his shoulder Giampaolo and his men take a two-week break before hosting Lecce, while Genoa travel to Parma following the international break.
Elsewhere in Serie A
SPAL 1- 0 Parma
Verona 2- 0 Sampdoria
Maurizio Sarri is being linked with a quartet of goalkeepers at Chelsea, whether Thibaut Courtois skips town or not.
Stoke’s Jack Butland is one name on the list, but the Potters want close to $40 million for their England national teamer. Sky says Leicester City and Crystal Palace would also like Butland, but Butland prefers a European contender.
[ MORE: PST chats with De Rossi ]
Sarri could also bring one of his old backstops from Serie A back to the Premier League in the form of Pepe Reina.
The former Liverpool backstop could cost $12 million, and would be eyed as insurance for a No. 1 keeper. Wily Caballero is Courtois’ current back-up.
Then there’s Marca, which claims Courtois’ move to Real Madrid would have the Blues working hard to get Kasper Schmeichel from Leicester or bring Petr Cech back from Arsenal.
Butland’s the clear top choice, but the beauty of Chelsea’s money is the ability to bring in two beautiful talents. Who should the Blues target?
Advanced stats site WhoScored has Butland’s season just ahead of Cech’s, with Schmeichel well behind. Reina’s season with Napoli was about the same as the Leicester man.
ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.
Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.
It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.
The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”
Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.
It’s a tradition as old as time — the union of top goalkeepers from all over the world, no matter the continent from which they hail, complaining about the new ball to be used at the upcoming World Cup.
[ MORE: New USMNT kits for 2018
World Cup ]
By the end of this summer’s tournament in Russia, you’ll reflexively twitch every time you hear the words “Telstar 18.” Goalkeepers will tell you that it’s designed to deceive them, to boost goalscoring numbers during major tournaments.
Below you’ll find the critical, but restrained so as not to offend, assessments of goalkeepers David De Gea (Spain’s no. 1), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany’s no. 1b) and Pepe Reina (De Gea’s wily backup) — quotes from FourFourTwo:
“It’s really strange. It could have been made a lot better.”
“The ball could be better; it moves a lot. But I think we’re just going to have to get used to working with it — and try to get to grips with it as quickly as possible before the World Cup starts. We’ve got no other option.”
“They should change it. There’s still time.”
[ MORE: France blow a lead, lose to Colombia; England top Holland ]
Unsurprisingly, top attacking stars — those who presumably stand to benefit from a ball that unpredictably moves on goalkeepers — have given their seal of approval for Telstar 18.
Could this January transfer window rival last season’s in terms of activity?
[ MORE: FA Cup replay roundup ]
Last season saw Crystal Palace save its season and Hull City nearly do the same, Morgan Schneiderlin head to Everton, Leicester find a decent N'Golo Kante replacement, and much, much more.
This season has been less active, though Ross Barkley has headed to Chelsea while former club Everton nabbed Cenk Tosun and Liverpool added Virgil Van Dijk.
The BBC has news involving Napoli which could affect two Premier League clubs. The Neapolitans apparently want Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who wants to be an every week starter, to be a prime part of their push to end Juventus’ Serie A stranglehold.
That would unseat Pepe Reina, who’s been long linked with a reunion with former boss Pepe Reina at Newcastle United. Napoli currently has Luigi Sepe as a No. 2 to Reina, though UEFA Europa League fixtures mean it’s no guarantee Mignolet’s arrival would allow Reina to leave town.
Sky Sports says Manchester City would like to see Fred as a long-term replacement for Fernandinho. Fred went 90 minutes for Shakhtar Donetsk in a pair of UEFA Champions League contests against City, including the 2-1 home win over the Premier League leaders’ B-squad on Dec. 6. The 24-year-old has two goals and two assists in league play, and could cost more than $25 million.
Don Balon proffers news that could unsettle Arsenal fans, as Real Madrid is apparently entering the bidding for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Florentino Perez would like an upgrade to Karim Benzema for his struggling La Liga super powers, and goodness knows Real will tempt Borussia Dortmund’s bank account.
— The BBC also says Besiktas want Islam Slimani to join the club from Leicester City.
— Ola Kamara’s move from Columbus to another MLS team may be hijacked by La Liga.