Serie A

Lazio player bites opponent
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Serie A: Top 2 both lose as Lazio player bites opponent (video)

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Juventus had a chance to effectively put another scudetto race to bed after chasers Lazio lost to relegation-threatened Lecce on Tuesday, a Lazio player biting an opponent to get a late red card to add insult to injury.

But Juve blew a 2-0 second-half lead at AC Milan in remarkable fashion, conceding four times at the San Siro.

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Juve leads Lazio by seven points with seven matches to play for both teams and they meet July 20 in Turin. Inter Milan is third with 64 points and Atalanta fourth with 63, both with a match-in-hand on the top two.


Lecce 2-1 Lazio

The latest manner in which Lazio threw away a chance to dethrone Juventus definitely leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Lazio lost Tuesday for the third time in five post-coronavirus pause outings, seeing a defender sent off for a biting incident in a 2-1 loss to previously-bottom three Lecce.

Patric did not like Giulio Donati’s arms boxing him out of a set piece situation, and clearly latches onto the Lecce man’s left arm.

It was already 2-1 when the red card was shown, Lazio frustrated when Felipe Caicedo’s early goal was countered by goals from Khouma Babacar and Fabio Lucioni.

AC Milan 4-2 Juventus

Milan pulls into fifth in the race for a Europa League place that will leave either Roma, Napoli, or Tuesday’s victors out of Europe.

It was nil-nil at halftime when the game really found its footing.

Adrien Rabiot scored a stunner just after the break and Juan Cuadrado cued up Cristiano Ronaldo for an insurance goal six minutes later.

Ronaldo’s 26th of the season puts him three back of league leader Ciro Immobile of Lazio.

Milan took one back through Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 62nd, and the Swede then set up Franck Kessie for an equalizer before departing in the 67th minute.

Rafael Leao scored right after restart, stunning Juventus. Giacomo Bonaventura, who’d come on for Ibrahimovic, then set up Ante Rebic for the fourth goal of the match.

The Rabiot goal, though…

Juve’s beautiful blowout sees Ronaldo free kick, Dybala magic (video)

Dybala goal video
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Technique isn’t leaving Cristiano Ronaldo any time soon.

The Portuguese star, 35, scored his 25th league goal of the season on a day of pretty goals for Juventus, who is moving closer to yet another Serie A scudetto.

[ MORE: Sane completes Bayern move ]

Juve opens up a 7-point lead on Lazio, who holds a match-in-hand, by beating up rivals Torino 4-1 at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium.

The match also holds special significance for Gianluigi Buffon. The veteran goalkeeper broke his tie with Paulo Maldini for most appearances in Serie A history when he made his 648th.

Ronaldo’s free kick was exceptional, his 629th senior goal coming in his 841th appearance (He has 221 assists in those outings).

Ronaldo and Juan Cuadrado each had a goal and an assist while Paulo Dybala scored with a wonderful bit of dribbling to open the scoring.

Andrea Belotti scored for Torino, who also conceded an own goal to The Old Lady.

Dybala, we mean, look at this shimmy.

Ronaldo powers Juventus to win; Lazio fight back to stay in title race

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ROME — Cristiano Ronaldo scored with a long-range rocket on a night when each Juventus goal was more spectacular than the other in a 3-1 win at relegation-threatened Genoa.

Chasing a record-extending ninth straight Serie A title, the victory restored Juventus’ four-point lead over Lazio, which won 2-1 at Torino earlier Tuesday.

Since losing the Italian Cup final to Napoli in a penalty shootout, Juventus has won all three of its league matches in the restart.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule

Paulo Dybala opened the scoring shortly after the break by evading three defenders before firing in a low shot that Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin, who is on loan from Juventus, could only get a weak hand on.

Seven minutes later it was time for Ronaldo to score a stunner for Juventus. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner gathered a pass near midfield, charged toward the goal and unleashed a blistering effort from 22 yards (meters) into the top corner past the outstretched Perin.

It was Ronaldo’s first goal in open play of the restart after converting penalties in his previous two matches, and it raised his total to 24 in 25 Serie A matches this season.

Not to be outdone, substitute Douglas Costa made it 3-0 by curling in a shot from beyond the area inside the far post as Genoa’s defense looked on helplessly.

Andrea Pinamonti then pulled one back for Genoa from a tight angle.

LAZIO COMEBACK

Three days after coming back to beat Fiorentina 2-1, Lazio did it again to beat Torino by the same score.

Ciro Immobile and Marco Parolo scored second-half goals to cancel out an early penalty from Andrea Bellotti.

A handball from Immobile led to Bellotti’s penalty and means the striker will miss Saturday’s game against AC Milan with a suspension.

But Immobile made up for his error with an expert finish shortly after the break to raise his total to 29 goals in 29 games — on pace to break Gonzalo Higuain’s Serie A record of 36 goals in 2015-16.

Immobile also matched his personal best for a Serie A season set two years ago.

Parolo scored the winner with a deflected shot from just beyond the area.

Torino is 14th, six points above the drop zone.

Breaking down the Arthur for Pjanic plus cash ‘swap’ for Barca, Juve

Pjanic to Barcelona
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Juventus got a little younger on Monday but also made sure to keep a couple veterans around Turin.

The Old Lady completed a swap deal, sending Miralem Pjanic plus cash to Barcelona for midfielder Arthur, while also announcing new contracts for Gianluigi Buffon and Georgio Chiellini.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Barcelona says it paid $67 million for the 30-year-old Pjanic, while Juve spent about $81 million to get Arthur.

Barca could get another $11 million if Arthur hits bonuses, and there’s a good chance for that.

The Blaugranas have been a mess aside from Lionel Messi’s typical brilliance, and have been passed by Real Madrid both in the table and long-term prognosis. Board room drama has not helped anything.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Understandably, Barca is getting blasted for the swap deal and that’s an easy argument to make given Arthur’s age and status as one of the club’s more consistent performers.

But here’s a devil’s advocate take.

Pjanic a move to embrace the back end of Messi’s prime

Messi remains the best creator in the world if not flat-out best player but his window has to be closing despite his seemingly immortal skills. Consider:

  • Only Thomas Muller (21) has more league assists than the Argentine and only four have more goals.
  • Robert Lewandowski is the only player to have as many combined goals and assists as Messi, and the Polish striker’s season is over.
  • Messi been named Man of the Match in 18 of his 27 appearances which is a ton even accounting for reputation.

Arthur v. Pjanic

It’s unlikely that he’ll fall off a cliff next season, but he needs some help in shouldering the playmaking load.

Let’s get this out of the way: Arthur is a force and will bring power and 1v1 skills to a Juventus team which is long in the tooth outside of Paulo Dybala, Matthijs de Ligt, and Rodrigo Betancur.

But Pjanic can simultaneously mentor Frenkie de Jong and combine with the young Dutchman to produce a metronomic midfield and allow Barca’s creators up top to do their thing.

Barca’s also been a bit snakebit this year. No team is possessing the ball more than Quique Setien’s men, with 62.5 percent of the ball having an edge on Man City (62.0), PSG (61.8), Bayern Munich (61.5), and Bayer Leverkusen (60.1) the only clubs above 60 percent.

Don’t get me wrong: Arguing for this move paying off more for Juve than Barcelona is very easy and the Catalan side’s embarrassing off-field season — let alone years of poor personnel planning — makes the jokes even easier. Right now, Messi isn’t just carrying Barca, he’s bearing the entire weight of the club’s reputation.

The goal seems to be to get Messi another Champions League, something that could still happen this season if the defense avoids gaffes. Barca is a top ten team in shots conceded per game, better than even Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid and Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig.

Plus there will be sales of Philippe Coutinho, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, and others to go with the $14 million left over from the swap deal.

Arthur to Juventus
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Why Juventus loves the move

Arthur is a beast, and can combine with Betancur to provide a complete midfield duo that is equal parts relentless, physical, and technical.

They’ll only grow under the tutelage and pressure that comes from playing with an older roster conditioned to winning.

Consider the ages of Juve’s top minutes contributors in Serie A play. Leonardo Bonucci is 33, Cristiano Ronaldo 35, and Juan Cuadrado 32. Then comes Pjanic (30), Alex Sandro (29), de Ligt (20), Blaise Matuidi (33), Dybala (26), and Betancur (23).

Arthur is yet to collect the track record of Pjanic and there will be an adjustment but even if the swap doesn’t pan out, the Old Lady will have risked $14 million on a 23-year-old with 20 Brazil caps.

What about Buffon and Chiellini and their combined 77 years on God’s green earth?

This makes sense, too.

Buffon was strong in the Italian Cup run and provides invaluable depth in experience as one of th best goalkeepers in the history of the game.

Chiellini missed most of the season with cruciate ligament injuries but even at 35 remains an adequate player and loyal servant.

The legends want to keep playing, will accept their roles, and there’s no reason to see them in another shirt.

Transfer news: Koulibaly to Liverpool, Jimenez to Juventus

Koulibaly to Liverpool
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The transfer rumor mill continues to hum along despite the window not opening for some time.

[ MORE: Liverpool drops points for 3rd time ]

That’s not a surprise with a lot of contracts expiring at the end of the month and some teams’ new knowledge of their fate for next season.

Koulibaly to Liverpool

A Virgil van Dijk-Kalidou Koulibaly partnership at Liverpool is a monstrous and imposing idea, but the Reds so far have only offered a discount bid on the Napoli star.

Reports out of Italy say the Reds sent a $67 million offer to the Coppa Italia champions, but that Napoli remains steadfast in their $112 million asking price.

Recently linked to Manchester United and even Newcastle if a takeover happens, Koulibaly is a massive talent.

He turned 29 on Saturday and has a contract in Naples through 2022-23. Koulibaly has 33 Senegal caps and 235 appearances for Napoli after beginning his career with Metz and Genk.

Jimenez to Juventus

Wolves’ big price tag on Raul Jimenez seems likely to turn most teams off the 29-year-old Mexican, but that won’t stop teams from circling the Molineux.

A report out of Italy says Juventus would love to woo Jimenez to Turin but that his $65 million price tag is a bit too much.

Jimenez broke Wolves’ PL single season scoring record with his 14th goal of the season in Saturday’s defeat of West Ham.

It should be noted that Jimenez has little reason to want to move with Wolves still holding the chance to qualify for the Champions League via the league route or a Europa League title.

He’s having a career year with a number of players who also look set to stick around under boss Nuno Espirito Santo. But we’re here to bring the rumors, just in case.

Vertonghen to Roma, Smalling to Roma

Longtime Tottenham Hotspur center back Jan Vertonghen has been a steady part of the club’s return to top four prominence.

He may be looking to help AS Roma steady its ship in Serie A, according to Sky Sports.

Vertonghen, 33, has made 311 appearances for Spurs since arriving from Ajax in 2012. He’s been linked with a return to the Amsterdam set or Inter Milan prior to the Roma report.

The 118-times capped Belgian could play alongside fellow PL mainstay Chris Smalling, as Roma’s reportedly ready to buy the loan star off Manchester United after one more loan campaign.