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  1. Arsenal have announced the signing of Switzerland defender Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus. The right-back, 34, spent seven years at the Turin club, making 257 appearances and winning Serie A seven times in a row. Lichtsteiner, who captains his country, will become manager Unai Emery's first signing since succeeding Arsene Wenger. "Stephan brings huge experience and leadership to us. He's a player with great quality with a very positive and determined attitude," said Emery. "Stephan will improve us on and off the pitch." In a statement on his official Twitter page, Lichtsteiner said: "Happy and honoured to be a Gunner! "Will work hard and passionately day in and day out to achieve our sporting objectives and to win trophies with this great club." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  2. Massimiliano Allegri has hinted that he will be staying at Juventus amid speculation linking him with Arsenal. The 50-year-old steered Juve to a seventh consecutive Serie A title this season and is a reported target for the Gunners, after Arsene Wenger stood down at the end of the season after 22 years in charge. In quotes posted on Juventus's official Twitter account, the Juve boss revealed his intention to start planning for next season with club officials. "Next week, I'll meet with the club as we start to make the team competitive again just like every year," he said. "Next year will be even more difficult and we need to keep raising our game. It's in Juve's DNA to be competitive on all fronts. "It's always our objective to work hard to create Juventus history. That boils down to determination, sacrifice and confidence in our own abilities. It's in the difficult moments that I actually have more fun." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira has suggested that he is open to a Premier League move in future. The Germany international, who has previously been linked with Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, will see his current deal with Juventus expire at the end of next season. Khedira says he is "fine in Turin", but has suggested that he wants to play in England before hanging up his boots. "My contract expires in a year. I often think of the future because anything can happen. I'm fine here, but I love challenges and I look for them," the 31-year-old told Bild. "I would like to win as many titles as possible in as many championships as possible. Among the best leagues in Europe I lack England, having won in Spain, Germany and Italy. "The Premier League has always fascinated me. Winning the title there would complete my collection. But I do not want to nominate or propose: I'm fine in Turin and predicting the future in football is difficult." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  4. AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso has signed a new three-year contract, the Serie A club have confirmed. The 40-year-old was initially given a contract until the end of the season following Vincenzo Montella's departure last November, and was only able to win one of his first five league games in charge. However, the Rossoneri have improved since the New Year, with eight wins out of 11 leaving them sixth in the table. Gattuso has now agreed to fresh terms that will reportedly see his wages increased from the €120,000 salary he has had since making the step up from the Primavera team. "The management decided to bring forward Gattuso's contract renewal to reward his hard work the best way before the end of the season," the club said in a statement. "This important gesture reflects the total harmony and empathy between the club management and the coach. "This way, AC Milan give continuity and confidence to the project, assuring the serenity of the Rossoneri players and the happiness of our fans. "The Rossoneri are (and remain) in Rino's hands!" Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  5. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a superb bicycle kick to help Real Madrid hammer Juventus in their own back yard in Tuesday night's Champions League quarter-final first leg in Turin. The Portugal forward made history with the first of his two goals, prodding home Isco's cross to become the first player to score in 10 consecutive Champions League games. Then came one of the great Champions League moments as Dani Carvajal lifted a cross to Ronaldo, who leapt in the air and hit a clean overhead kick which left Gianluigi Buffon motionless. Such was the brilliance of the strike that Juventus fans stood up to applaud the goal that all but destroyed their hopes of reaching the semi-finals. Paulo Dybala was then sent off and Marcelo struck a third for Real to put the La Liga side all but through to the final four, but the game will be remembered for Ronaldo's sublime second strike. Cristiano Ronaldo "Obviously people are talking about the second goal, it was amazing, probably the best of my career. "It was spectacular. I jumped very high and it's a goal that will live long in the memory. "I've been looking to do it for a while, but it depends on the circumstances of the game. It just came to me to give it a go, you always have to try it. I tried it today and it came off. "[The ovation from Juve fans] was one of the most poignant moments of the night. To receive applause from a stadium like this, which has been graced by great players, is a unique experience. "When I was a kid, I liked Juventus and the fact that their fans have clapped me will stay with me." Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid boss "You can say he's one of the most beautiful players in the history of football. "He shows every time that he is a special player. He always wants to do great things in the Champions League and he never gets tired of doing it, that's his great quality. "Cristiano is in good form at the moment. His team-mates are very happy with him. We need to enjoy tonight, but then think about the hard work ahead of next week because Juve won't give up." Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus boss "I don't know if Cristiano's goal is the best in the history of football, but it's certainly an extraordinary goal. You can only congratulate him for what he's doing at present. "However, I am disappointed about the third goal, because at that point we still could have turned the tie in the second leg. Now it will be impossible." Gianluigi Buffon, Juve goalkeeper "Ronaldo is a player who is at an incredible level. Ronaldo's worth is comparable to (Diego) Maradona, (Lionel) Messi or Pele. My Champions League dream isn't possible because the best have stopped it." Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  6. Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed he will move to another country to look for his next job after he leaves Juventus. The Italian coach is aiming to win a fourth consecutive Serie A title with the Bianconeri, adding to the Scudetto he won at AC Milan. Allegri has been linked to Chelsea and Arsenal in recent months and has confirmed he will be looking to move abroad for his next job. "Certainly I will go abroad," Allegri told The Telegraph. "In Italy, finished." According to The Sun, Allegri is ‘all set’ to step in at Chelsea just as soon as compatriot Antonio Conte has been sacked. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  7. AC Milan defender Leonardo Bonucci has admitted that his side were "scared" during their Europa League last-16 first leg against Arsenal. Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey gave Arsene Wenger's charges victory at the San Siro on Thursday. Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso highlighted errors made at the back by his side, but Bonucci felt it was a question of mentality that led to the end of the Rossoneri's 13-game unbeaten run. "We did not have the right mentality right from the get go," the Milan captain told Sky Sport Italia. "We were a little scared since we are so young. Let's hope we learn from this. "It is hard but we will have to give it a go [in the second leg]. Anything can happen in football so we have to stay positive. "Arsenal ran a lot and they have a lot of quality but we also made mistakes. We didn't play as a team so that's what you get. We had to be smarter and more responsible with the ball, this we know. "We were too nervous and excited, everyone made mistakes. In the second half we played with more courage but it wasn't enough. Credit to Arsenal, who played a great first half. "If we play in London with the same spirit we showed in the second half, we might be able to pull it off." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  8. Head to head This is the first meeting between Milan and Arsenal since the 2011-12 Champions League campaign, when they met in the last 16. In that time, Milan triumphed 4-3 on aggregate, winning 4-0 at the San Siro in the first leg before losing 3-0 at the Emirates in the second leg. The two teams have met just six times in competitive fixtures - two in the UEFA Super Cup and four in the Champions League. Tonight will be their first UEFA Cup/Europa League meeting. The tally stands at two wins, two draws and two defeats each. Standings and form Arsene Wenger's side have lost four matches in a row, the first time that has happened since October 2002. They have only won four of their past 15 matches and have not lost five successive matches since 1977 when they were beaten in eight games in a row from 12 February to 12 March. They sit sixth in the Premier League table, a whole eight points behind fifth-placed Chelsea. In contrast, Milan were woeful at the start of the season but Gennaro Gattuso has turned them round. They are unbeaten in 13 games in all competitions and have climbed up to seventh in Serie A. In their last match they edged out Lazio 5-4 in a penalty shootout to reach the Coppa Italia final and have not conceded a goal in their past six games. Opta Stats Arsenal haven't gone beyond the last 16 of a European competition since 2009-10, when they were eliminated by Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The Gunners have lost their last three European trips to Italy (excluding qualifiers), failing to score in defeats to Roma (0-1), Milan (0-4) and Napoli (0-2). Milan have lost just one of their last 18 home UEFA Cup/Europa League matches (W14 D3), losing 1-0 to Roda JC in February 2002 (excluding qualifiers). Gattuso played the full 90 minutes the last time Arsenal won against Milan at the San Siro in March 2008, with the Gunners winning 2-0 thanks to late goals from Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor. Milan's Fabio Borini is averaging a goal or assist every 73 minutes in the Europa League this season (two goals, three assists in 366 minutes of action). However, the Italian has failed to score or assist in any of his seven previous career appearances against Arsenal and has never been on the winning side against them (D2 L5). Arsenal (28) and Milan (27) are the two teams still left in the competition to have used the most players in this season's Europa League. The Gunners have scored 18 goals in the Europa League this season, with only Real Sociedad (19) and Zenit St Petersburg (20) scoring more. However, eight of the goals scored by Arsenal were netted by players no longer at the club - Olivier Giroud (3), Theo Walcott (3), Alexis Sanchez (1) and Mathieu Debuchy (1). Team news Arsenal will be without Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal and Alexandre Lacazette through injury, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also unavailable. The Rossoneri, meanwhile, will be without Luca Antonelli, Ignazio Abate and long-term absentee Andrea Conti. Prediction Arsenal are only going one way, and that is down (not as in relegation of course, but down in stature and quality), while AC Milan have had their downs and now look to be on the up, and with this game taking place at the San Siro, I wouldn't put it past the Rossoneri to build up a healthy first-leg lead. Score prediction: Milan 3-1 Arsenal
  9. The sudden death of Fiorentina defender Davide Astori on Sunday was due to a suspected cardiac arrest by natural causes, a prosecutor has said. The Italy international was discovered in his hotel room in Udine by club staff, on the morning the Viola were due to face Udinese in Serie A. Astori's body was taken to the Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital for an autopsy. "The belief is that the player died of a cardiac arrest by natural causes," Udine prosecutor Antonio De Nicolo said. "It is strange that such a thing should happen to a professional who is so closely monitored without there being any warning signs." All top flight games in Italy where postponed on Sunday, including the derby between AC Milan and Inter Milan. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  10. AC Milan president and owner Li Yonghong has stressed that reports suggesting he has declared bankruptcy are "fake news". Li's Rossoneri Sport Group paid £628m to buy the Serie A club in April 2017 but in the last few days, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said he was having to auction his assets off to settle his debts. An official statement from Li on the Milan site responded to the allegations, saying: "I have seen that over the past 48 hours, some media have irresponsibly reported fake news that has damaged the Club, my companies, my family and myself. "From the day I bought AC Milan, I have faced difficulties and have been under unprecedented pressure. Following these reports and irresponsible news reports, I would like to calm down the environment around the club and the team. "We do not understand the purpose of these allegations but they have now reached the point where the Club is severely damaged by them and so are my companies and my family. I want therefore to take the opportunity to explain - hoping this will be the last time - that the situation concerning my assets is safe and sound and that both the Club and my companies are steadily working. "I, therefore, hope that no credit is given to the latest news that isn't true and that attention can be focused on what we all care about as in the management of and the improvements of the team and that we all keep supporting coach Rino Gattuso. We will do everything we can to bring the Club back to the top." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  11. Roma sporting director Monchi has admitted the club should have received more money from Liverpool for Mohamed Salah but the Giallorossi board felt they had to sell. The Egypt international has become the second-fastest player in Liverpool's history to reach 30 goals, second only to George Allan. Salah's excellent form has prompted questions from Roma fans about why he was allowed to leave for a fee that could eventually reach £44.4m, in the same summer Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain for £198m. "At the end of the day, we could reach €50m with bonuses, but at that moment we had to sell and that was an important option," Monchi told Sky Sport Italia. "The Neymar and Kylian Mbappe transfers changed the market, but at that moment it was necessary that we sell. "I still think the price could've been better for Salah, but it did give us the possibility of making other moves. When I arrived, the Liverpool offer for Salah was 32m euros plus 3m euros in bonuses. In today's football, players go wherever they want to. "The figures are important, because at the end of the day we are a business, but the fans cannot be bought. In my years at Sevilla, people counted the trophies and those are so far missing at Roma. "I understand the fans perfectly well, I know they don't want to talk about numbers, they just want to win, but that is my job. We have to build a club that doesn't just win, but does so consistently over time. Fans don't want promises, they want results. "I accept all of that, but ask them for a little faith. It takes time. We've got to stay quiet and work harder to find the right path towards what the fans want." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  12. Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri has ruled out midfielder Blaise Matuidi for his side’s Champions League game with Tottenham Hotspur after he limped off in Sunday’s match against Sassuolo. The 30-year-old picked up a muscular injury and was replaced by Claudio Marchisio in the 26th minute of the 7-0 mauling of the Neroverdi at the Allianz Stadium. Goals from Alex Sandro, Miralem Pjanic, a brace from Sami Khedira and a hat-trick from Gonzalo Higuaín completed Juventus's win over the league's 15th-placed side. Allegri confirmed the France international will miss Juventus’ first-leg away visit at Spurs on 13 February. "Blaise Matuidi seems to have a muscular issue, but we have players like Claudio Marchisio and Dybala who are getting closer to fitness. Matuidi won't be there against Tottenham," Allegri told Mediaset Premium. Allegri was also full of praise for the way his team played on the day: "Many players are beginning to reach their ideal form. "It was important to win so we could definitively break away from chasing pack, who are now 14 points away. "There is no secret to our success, we simply have lads with good values who want to win what feels like their first Scudetto. We want to stay on Napoli's tails going into the sprint finish." He stated. Juventus currently have 59 points from 23 games and are second after Napoli won at Benevento on Sunday night. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  13. Jurgen Klopp appears to have resigned himself to the fact that Emre Can will probably run his Liverpool contract down and leave for nothing in the summer. However, the Reds boss is adamant that his compatriot will not be leaving in January. Can's contract with Liverpool runs out on June 30, meaning the 24-year-old is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a club outside of the Premier League, and Juventus are interested in the German midfielder. "He'll stay beyond the winter," Klopp told DAZN. "Emre is still a young lad but he has developed into a great player and is very important for us. "Sometimes a player just wants to sit out his contract. That's not cool for the club, but there are moments in which you have to accept it. "And as long as the player behaves like Emre does, then I have absolutely nothing to complain about. He gives everything he has and identifies with the club." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  14. Juventus director general Giuseppe Marotta has insisted that the club will not consider selling Paulo Dybala unless he asks to leave. The 24-year-old Argentine has made a name for himself as one of the best prospects in world football since joining Juventus from fellow Serie A side Palermo for £35m in June 2015. Dybala has scored 44 goals in 84 league games for Juve, including 14 so far this season. As a result he has been linked to a move to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Marotta, however, is adamant that the Iralian champions are determined to hold onto their prized asset. "He is a very strong player, on who rely a lot," Marotta told Sky Italia. "But Dybala will undoubtedly remain at Juve, also because we do not need to sell anyone, unless the same player asks." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  15. The temperature on the Apennines is warming up as the top four teams are all within 4 points of each other. Napoli is leading the charge sitting on top of the table with 42 points in 17 matches. The margin for error is smaller than ever now, so you can expect all top teams to put pedal to the metal to get the best possible position before the winter break. Also, you won't be watching Italians in their usual Sunday schedule due to Christmas, so all of the matches take place on Friday and Saturday. Now, let's get rolling with the preview! Chievo vs Bologna (Friday) The action begins in Veneto where Chievo and Bologna will clash at the Stadio Marcantio Bentegodi. These two sides have accumulated the same amount of points at this stage – 21, with Bologna sitting in 12th place and Chievo just underneath in 13th. Chievo are out of form, collecting just 2 wins in 10 last league matches. Last week, they suffered unexpected lost away at Crotone and they will most certainly want to make up for that in front of their own fans. Inglese is their main hope in the offensive department with 6 goals next to his name, and he'll want to add to that against a solid Bologna side that suffered two loses in the last two games after a series of good results. It should be noted that the defeats came at the hands of Juventus and Milan, so it certainly shouldn't bring their morale down, especially considering the dip in form Chievo is feeling lately. Factoring it all in, these two sides could easily neutralize each other, and the draw could be on the cards here. Prediction: Draw Cagliari vs Fiorentina (Friday) 14th placed Cagliari host Fiorentina as they bid to move further away from the danger zone. They haven’t been impressive this season, but certainly good enough to avoid relegation, one would think. Last week, they suffered a heart-breaking loss to Roma by conceding a penalty in the 94th minute. The hosts have been able to get all the important victories against relatively weaker teams, but they still didn’t make an upset losing to all top 10 teams they went up against. It’s pretty unlikely they’ll get a clean sheet as they concede an average of almost two goals in their own home. On the other hand, Fiorentina are just 4 points short of European spots, so they’ll definitely go all-in to take the win tomorrow, as these are the type of games they should be winning if they want to play in Europe next season. Viola have been struggling with the efficiency recently scoring just 5 goals in the same number of matches, only enough to get 4 draws and just a single win. Fiorentina will rely on Thereau who showed up in big fashion this season, scoring 4 goals and adding the same number of assists. Behind the strikers, their main man is this summer’s acquisition Jordan Veretout, and 24 year old Frenchman looks like he’s the future of Fiorentina. With Cagliari’s inefficiency and Fiorentina’s solid defensive structure I can see I Viola getting something more in this one. Prediction: Fiorentina Lazio vs Crotone (Saturday) Lazio will host Crotone in Rome in the opening Saturday game of Italian football this week. The game is scheduled at 12:30 CET, and the hosts surely schedule a win in their calendar. The Eagles look to make a leap to the Champions League spots, sitting in 5th, 5 points behind their arch rivals, Roma. Fueled by Immobile’s inspiring scoring streak, with 15 goals in 16 matches, Lazio are playing offensive and beautiful football under the less famous Inzaghi brother, Simone. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is playing beyond all expectations this season, mixing skill and strength in a way you don’t see very often when looking at young players like him and there’s no doubt Lotito will have offers for the youngster flying at his desk this summer. Luis Alberto is another rising star. The La Masia dropout is now in incredible form and adding a special bit of flair to Inzaghi’s mixture of strength, skill and offensive football. Crotone on the other hand, mainly look to avoid relegation, and from this point of view, it looks like it’s going to be a long battle for them. The board reacted to the string of bad results with the appointment of experienced international, Walter Zenga. In their 8 away matches, they have been only able to get a single draw and a win, piling up 6 losses, and that itself says a lot. Furthermore, the guests scored abysmal 6 goals in 8 away matches, conceding 20 in the same period. All in all, Lazio will look to get back on track in the Champions League hunt, and it’s must-win situation for them against a weak opponent, and to make things worse for Crotone, Zenga is suspended for this match and won’t be able to help his team from the sidelines. Prediction: Lazio Genoa vs Benevento (Saturday) "Saint Gennaro, please don't forget you are from Benevento,“ was the message of Benevento fans, who can now only rely on miracle of Saint Gennaro in order to avoid quick relegation. As things stand, it looks impossible for a spirited Benevento side to snatch spot number 17, but bigger miracles did happen, and the attitude their side is showing is just impressive, despite historically bad results. Benevento side were able to "steal“ a fairytale point off of Milan in the incredible string of events which eventually led to sacking of Montella. They even took the lead in their clash with fellow newly-promoted side SPAL, but couldn't hold on to it, falling in an even bigger hole result-wise. On the other hand, matches like these are perfect opportunity for Ligurians to escape the relegation zone, but the way Genoa are playing this season, nothing is sure as they couldn't get an even single win in their own stadium the whole season. The way things are standing, the uninspired hosts could be suprised by the resistance the Benevento side has been showing lately. Prediction: Draw Napoli vs Sampdoria (Saturday) One of the best matches you’ll find this weekend is the clash in Naples. Sarri’s troops will host the Northerners from Genoa in their pursue for the Scudetto, the first one since 1990 and the unforgettable Maradona years. Napoli look like they have it all sorted out, the fans were always 100% with the club, they never trusted a coach like they do the former bank employee who happens to be the conductor of some of the most beautiful football in Europe. They lost only one match in Serie A, and Hamsik finally took a big burden off his back by scoring his 115th goal and equalizing Maradona’s record. Mertens is facing a goal drought of 5 games, and it certainly affects his confidence, so he’s definitely a man who wants to get back on track. Napoli can’t let this slip as Sampdoria is slowing down as the season progresses, and they don’t look as good as they a month ago, which however still doesn’t mean they don’t represent a viable threat. Fabio Quagliarella will return to San Paolo, and despite the fact he’ll get the warmest welcome in the world, don’t forget he’s a natural killer in front of goal, and a true threat for any defence out there. Sampdoria don’t look good lately as they were only able to pick up a single draw and three defeats in last 4 Serie A matches. They are standing at suprising 6th spot, but they can’t relax as the competition in the league is fierce this season, and few more slip-ups could see them falling down to middle of the table. Also, the fact they won only 9 points in 8 away games doesn’t really help them either against an opponent of this strength. Prediction: Napoli Sassuolo vs Inter (Saturday) With the suprrising 3-1 loss to Udinese last weekend, Inter were knocked off of number 1 spot, and now sit in 3rd place just one and two points short of Juventus and Napoli, respectively. The host from Modena is rising, collecting 6 points in their last two league games. They managed to stun Sampdoria with Matri’s winner in 90th minute, lifting the spirits in Sassuolo after a disappointing start of the season. Sassuolo is one of the worst home teams in the league, collecting miserable 5 points in eight matches. However, they were able to stop the wineless streak at home against Crotone, and now they look like they’re on the rise, and they want to escape the relegation zone as they are just 3 points off undesirable spots. It looks like the appointment of Beppe Iachini brought them some much needed spark, but is it just short-term shock therapy or do they have it in them to make this streak last? Spalletti took his magic to Milano this summer and brought up the best of his Inter side. Now, after nine fixtures, Nerazzurri look like legitimate title candidates, led by beastly Mauro Icardi. The amazing Argentinian managed to bag in 17 goals and is looking as the main Capocannoniere candidate for the best scorer of the league. He gets a lot of help from his favorite winger, Ivan Perisic, who is playing out of his mind lately, and the Manchester rumors will only get bigger if he keeps playing at this pace. Inter have no time to waste if they want to knock Juventus off of their throne, and they need to get back on winning track quickly, and no slip-ups are allowed at this point for them. Prediction: Inter SPAL vs Torino (Saturday) SPAL claimed a hard-earned win playing away at Benevento last weekend. Character they shown after going down 1-0 to win the match will definitely be encouraging coming into a tough fixture for Leonardo Semplici and his team. SPAL is topping the relegation zone with 14 points, just like 17th placed Genoa. Another good sign for SPAL is that Floccari was able to score a brace last weekend, showing he could be a valuable asset in the relegation battle. The less famous Turin club fell to defeat last week to Napoli, but they were able to bounce back with a big win against Roma in the Italian Cup. Torino is now in the middle of the table at 10th and Mihajlovic and his players are looking up to grab European spots, being just 4 points short off 7th placed Sampdoria. Their main-man Belotti isn’t playing as expected this season scoring just 4 goals for now, but he is contributing in other aspects, and we’ll surely see the best of him as the season progresses. Iago Falque proved to be important for Mihajlovic’s side with 5 goals up to this points, more than enough for a winger. In their last away match, Torino were able to beat Lazio 3-1 in a great match, where they could’ve scored 3 more goals if they were focused enough. Considering Torino’s solid record in the away matches and SPAL’s oscillating form, you can expect to see Belotti step up and lead his team to victory here. Prediction: Torino and Belotti to score Udinese vs Verona (Saturday) Following Udinese season-to-season it just seems like every next year is a replay of the last one. Just like always, Udinese comfortably sit middle of the table, safe enough not to be worried about relegation, but without any ambition for the European spots. The hosts are in great form, collecting 9 points in the last 5 league matches, and they look like they're on the rise, so Saturday's clash with Verona could see them continue their spirited streak as they are getting contributions from all sides, with Lasagna, Barak and De Paul having scored 14 goals between themselves. Sitting second-to-bottom of the table, Verona isn't looking good this season. They score an average of just a goal a game, which maybe could be sufficient if they didn't concede 32 goals in 17 matches. However, last week they stunned everyone with amazing 3-0 win over Milan. They were able to take advantage of every flaw in Milan's defense while keeping a solid structure at the back, which lead to the best result of their season. Taking all factors into account, Udinese's rising form, huge 3-1 win over championship candidate Inter last week and playing on their own turf, I can't see Verona getting anything out of this match despite their great showing last week. Prediction: Udinese AC Milan vs Atalanta (Saturday) The fireman in the shape of Gattuso was brought in after Montella's sacking, but the fire just keeps on spreading, leaving no man behind. Last week’s 3-0 loss to a weak Verona side meant that Milan has hit rock bottom. Gattuso decided that it was too much, and put all of his players in the training camp which they can’t leave until Saturday’s match. Gennaro’s extreme methods are Milan’s last hope to keep the season alive and have a happy christmas at the city of the mode. Donnarumma’s problems off the pitch don’t help the situation either, and to top it all of, their best player this season, Suso, is suspended due to a red card in the embarrassing loss to Verona. Atalanta is the side you definitely don’t want to face in mid-crisis. They always look solid tactically and proving that the last season wasn’t fluke as they sit in 7th spot with the same amount of points as Milan, but better goal difference that puts them on top. Atalanta beat Sassuolo in the cup match, and they put in a great performance, but couldn’t get the 3 points off of Lazio in a thrilling 3-3 draw last weekend. Taking all into account, Gatusso could wake his team up, but you can’t ignore a well-versed Atalanta side and the most expected outcome here is the draw with at least a goal in both nets. Prediction: Draw Juventus vs Roma (Saturday) Here it is! The spectacle of the weekend in Italy will be played in Turin where the home team will look to clinch victory. The match will be played on Saturday at 20:45 CET, so make sure you don’t miss this one. Just as always, Juve is improving as the season goes on. They usually start at a slower pace, and this season isn’t any different. Right now, they look powerful, easily skinning 4 points from clashes with Napoli and Inter, they come into this one with a lot of confidence and championship mentality they always bring into matches of this magnitude. Allegri was willing to start Dybala in the cup match where he scored after giving him a bench treatment in the last two league matches. We can expect dangerous and fast-paced Argentinian to be in the starting 11 this weekend along with Miralem Pjanic, who is always extra motivated for this derby as he spent 5 years in Roma leading the midfield. As for the injuries, Buffon is out, just like Cuadrado who is suffering from groin injury and won’t be available for Saturday’s clash. Di Francesco brought some nice flavor to Roma, as they’re sitting in 4th having played a game less than rivals in front of them. They took a loss in the cup, but the good news is they can now focus on the league until February when Champions League takes place. Last week, they took hard-earned win against Cagliari at home, scoring off 94th minute penalty. Their main striker, Edin Dzeko, is facing small crisis scoring-wise, but we can expect him to pick it up as he already scored 8 goals this season. Lately, Schick has been getting more and more opportunity, as the young striker is proving to be very useful even when he’s not on the goalscoring sheet. Roma isn’t facing major injury problems, and they are ready to go out and show what they’re made of. Prediction: Juventus Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  16. Udinese have announced that they have decided to part ways with manager Luigi Del Neri and appointed Massimo Oddo in his place. Del Neri was hired in October 2016 after the Zebrette's poor start to the 2016-17 Serie A campaign, eventually leading the club away from relegation trouble and to a 13th-placed finish. The 67-year-old was given a new one-year contract for keeping Udinese up but they have picked up just 12 points from as many games. A 1-0 home defeat to Cagliari on Sunday proved the last straw for the board who have opted to dismiss the veteran manager and bring in the 41-year-old former Italy international. "Udinese Calcio can confirm that first-team head coach Luigi Del Neri and assistant Giuseppe Ferazzoli have been relieved of their duties," the club said on Twitter. "The club would like to thank Del Neri and Ferazzoli for their dedication over the last 13 months and wishes them all the best for the future." Oddo - who played for Napoli, Lazio, AC Milan and Bayern Munich - faces a difficult debut as Udinese entertain league leaders Napoli on Sunday. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  17. Chelsea forward Alvaro Morata has suggested that he would still be playing for Juventus had Real Madrid not activated a buyback clause to force him back to the Bernabeu. After playing for Los Blancos between 2008 and 2014, the Spaniard left to join the Bianconeri, scoring 27 goals in 93 appearances in his two years in Turin. However, Real decided to re-sign the 25-year-old in the summer of 2016, and Morata has criticised the Spanish champions for how they treated him on his return to Madrid. "Why I chose to return to Real Madrid? Because there were contractual agreements that needed to be respected," Morata told Gazzetta dello Sport. "The disappointment was enormous: I found myself back to square one. They treated me like the boy I was before my two seasons in Italy. "Juve's trademark? A winning mentality and great professionalism. My two seasons at Juve were great. I went there as a boy and left as a real player. "For a Spaniard, Italy is the best country to live in. You have everything: beauty, history, art, cooking, fashion. I'd have never left Italy and Juve." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  18. Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has reiterated his intention to retire next summer, unless he wins the Champions League in May. The 39-year-old intends to bow out following the 2018 World Cup, which he hopes to participate in with the Azzurri, who face Sweden in a qualifying playoff next month. However, winning the Champions League for the first time with the Bianconeri could postpone his retirement as he may then target winning next season's FIFA Club World Cup. "This is my last season and I'm pretty convinced with the decision I have taken," Buffon told Sky Sport Italia. "More than anything, I am a serene person in that I have no fear for the future and what could be my life. "I am facing it and I will face it with the desire and enthusiasm to put myself to the test. As a consequence, playing on for one or two more years would not take anything away from or add anything to what I have already done. "Like with everything, I look for a reason, and the only reason [to continue] would be winning the Champions League. At that point, I would like to try to win the Club World Cup, and maybe [Wojciech] Szczesny would let me play one game. "But I think that, with a goalkeeper like him behind you, it's normal that I step aside from next year." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  19. Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero has deemed Paulo Dybala the present number 10 "superstar" at the club and suggests he could remain with the Bianconeri "for life". The Argentine has caught the eyes of many of the continent's biggest teams following his amazing performances since his move from Palermo. Dybala has even managed to take it up a further notch, scoring 10 Serie A goals in seven appearances, which has only intensified suggestions that one of Barcelona or Real Madrid could come calling in the New Year. Del Piero hopes to see the 23-year-old stick around for the remainder of his career, however, telling Gazzetta dello Sport: "He's raised his level even further at the start of this season. "He's doing exciting things. I'm not just talking about goals, I'm talking about how he can decide matches when he turns it on. "I hope he can have what I did [in terms of adulation] in Turin, because no-one can enter the hearts of the fans like him. "The number 10 [jersey] wasn't really my property. Before me was Roberto Baggio, [Omar] Sivori and [Michel] Platini – they all wore it. "And now there's a superstar who has everything to stay at Juve for life if he wants to. I'm so happy." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  20. Giorgio Chiellini has become the latest player to pledge one percent of his wages to Juan Mata's Common Goal charity. The 33-year-old Juventus defender joins Bayern Munich's Mats Hummels and USA Women's National Team World Cup winners Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe in donating a portion of their wages. Most of the players involved were contacted by the charity but Chiellini got in touch himself via email. "Hello. I'm Giorgio Chiellini, player of Juventus," the email read. "I'm interested to support your program and I would like to give my congratulations to Juan Mata for finding the time and having the idea to support through football people less lucky than us. "I'm not interested in advertising, I want only to support a brilliant project. Sorry for my English, I try to make the best as possible! I wait for your answer about complete the registration. Bye, Giorgio." Chiellini was then contacted via Skype and has now formally come on board with Common Goal, which supports global football initiatives for disadvantaged children. "By joining Common Goal, I hope I can encourage the younger generation of players to think about social responsibility in their lives," the Italian said in a statement. "As professional footballers, we are in a fortunate position compared to much in society. I think it's important we keep this in mind and try and support those less lucky than us where we can." The Common Goal fund is run by the Berlin-based organisation streetfootballworld, which invests in more than 120 football-based charities in 80 countries. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  21. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted that he does not intend to "stay abroad for too long" ahead of a return to his native Italy. The Blues boss achieved great success in his first managerial club campaign away from Serie A, winning the Premier League title and reaching the final of the FA Cup. However, Conte has once again cast doubt over his future in West London by admitting that he misses the Italian way of life. "I have a longing for Italy, that's beyond any doubt," he told Radio Anch'io Sport. "It's not in my head to stay abroad for too long. It's good to have beautiful experiences, but I intend to go back to Italy one day. "China? No, absolutely not. Bundesliga? It's always difficult to predict the future. "Let's just say that a coach is a temporary worker. It depends on the results, but there's desire on my part to try to do the best I can, finishing one project and then finding the right one to continue. "I miss Italy, that's a fact. Still, this experience is helping me so much. I'd also like to become a sporting director in the future." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  22. Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan admits he turned down "many important offers" to leave the club this summer and is happy with his decision to stay put in the Italian capital. The Belgium international has been repeatedly linked with a switch to the Premier League in recent years, most recently being rumoured to be a target for Manchester United. Nainggolan penned a new four-year deal at the Stadio Olimpico in July, however, and he does not see any reason to leave Roma as they seek some major silverware. "My objective? I want to do better than last year, that's clear. If I stayed at Roma, it's because I want to win with this team, this shirt, this club," he told Il Romanista. "It'd be an indescribable emotion [to win something with Roma], and I hope sooner or later we can celebrate something. "Why did I choose to stay at Roma? I had many important offers, but for me it's important to have the right lifestyle with the people I love. "I'm happy where I am and I had no reason to change teams. It's not just a matter of feeling good at Roma, it's also because of all the affection. "There's nothing more beautiful. The other day, before the match against Atletico, [Yannick Ferreira] Carrasco asked me why I stayed here. It's because I have everything here, I told him. "The club want to grow, I want to win and Roma are a club with great traditions. We're the capital of Italy, it can't be that we've gone so long without winning something, but I'm sure it'll happen soon." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  23. Paulo Dybala says he is "very happy" to remain a part of Juventus's long-term plans, despite interest from Barcelona. The Argentina international is understood to have been on the Catalan club's radar in the summer after another impressive campaign in which he helped the Bianconeri to a sixth-successive Serie A crown and a Coppa Italia. Agent Mino Raiola suggested on Monday that the 23-year-old will eventually depart Juventus for another European heavyweight, with Real Madrid also said to have shown an interest over the past 18 months. Dybala appears to be content in Turin for the time being, though, telling reporters: "Nobody has said anything to me [about a Barca bid]. The club never came to me to say there was an offer on the table. "The only thing the club said to me is that they want me to be part of this project for a long time, and I'm happy about that. As long as the club and the president want me at Juve, that's where I'll be." Asked about the prospect of linking up with Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp, Dybala added: "He's already my teammate for Argentina but I'm really good at Juventus, although I don't know what's going to happen in the future. I'm very happy to wear an important shirt like the number 10." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  24. Southampton have signed Netherlands centre-back Wesley Hoedt from Lazio for a reported £15m on a five-year deal. The 23-year-old, who began his career at AZ Alkmaar, moved to the Biancocelesti in 2015 and made a total of 61 appearances in all competitions. He becomes Mauricio Pellegrino's third signing of the summer, following on from Poland defender Jan Bednarek and Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina. Southampton vice chairman Les Reed said: "Wesley is one of the most promising young defenders in Europe and represents a significant addition to our squad. "Having procured a Champions League finalist from one Italian club we have now added an Italian Supercoppa winner from another. "We believe he has all the qualities to play a big part in our future, and we have worked hard to bring him to Southampton, with a number of other high-profile clubs interested in him. "Finding a top quality central defender is difficult in the current environment and now we have six internationals in this position, both young and experienced. "Finding a naturally left-footed player is even more difficult. We have been tracking central defenders on our target list for the past 12 months and Wesley has always been at the top of that list, so it was important to act when the opportunity came. "Wesley has proven his talent through his performances for Lazio, as well as the Netherlands, and we believe he can develop even further here at Southampton, alongside his international teammate Virgil van Dijk, as well as the likes of Jack Stephens, Maya Yoshida, Jan Bednarek and Florin Gardos. "With Wesley joining those players, we believe we have the right amount of quality, depth and flexibility at centre-back to help us achieve our aims this season." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  25. Marten de Roon has described former club Middlesbrough as a club lacking stability, with a "split" between the club's English and Spanish speakers. In addition, he also described the Premier League as "all about physical strength" and claimed that "the quality of life is higher in Italy". The Dutch midfielder became Boro's record £12m signing when he arrived from Atalanta last year, but returned to the Serie A club this summer following the Teessiders' relegation to the Championship. De Roon is quoted by The Sun as saying: "It wasn't a nice year at all with Middlesbrough. There was a split between the English and Spanish speakers in the squad. We were not a stable team at all, and we were not close to one another. "The Premier League is great to watch, because a lot happens, and the pace and intensity of matches is unlike anywhere else. But I missed tactical discipline. It is all about physical strength, and teams come up short tactically apart from the top six sides. "I had no problem with the people in England, and it was easy as I spoke the language. But the quality of life is higher in Italy. The food, the weather, the coffee... “I like the fact that people are more relaxed. The Atalanta players do a lot together, and that attracted me as well. “The Dutch national team also played a role in my decision to leave. If I play in the Championship I can forget about getting a call-up.” Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.

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