Arkadiusz Milik took centre stage for Napoli on Sunday afternoon on their excursion to the Stadio Ennio Tardini as his brace assisted fire his side to a 4- victory more than Parma.
His to start with arrived from a free-kick and place him in some really great enterprise as in Europe’s leading 5 leagues, only he and Lionel Messi have scored at least 3 times from free-kicks.
The goals also extended his streak of hitting the back again of the net against the Ducali and with 4 goals against them in just two appearances, they are already his favoured victims in the Italian top rated flight.
It also furnished Milik with a fantastic possibility to get between the goals on the road, something that he has struggled to do considerably when not enjoying the home comforts of the Stadio San Paolo.
They ended up his to start with goals on the street of the present-day campaign and can take his count of strikes away from home to six in overall in Serie A, capping an remarkable effectiveness.
Napoli’s Senegalese defender Kalidouy Koulibaly has admitted that he is “pleased” by the transfer desire demonstrated in him, but adds that he has no need to leave the Stadio San Paolo.
The 27-year-old Teranga Lions sweeper is regarded as a person of the most effective players in his position in world football.
He has been strongly linked with a go to Manchester United, with speculation rife that the Red Devils are geared up to break the world transfer rate for a defender (currently £75m, which observed Virgil van Dijk leave Southampton for Liverpool) to indication Koulibaly.
It has also been uncovered that interim United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer assigned his major scout Jim Lawlor to view the defender in a – Serie A draw at Fiorentina previously in the month.
Koulibaly has admitted currently being flattered at report linking him to United and other key European sides.
“My upcoming? I never know if I’m a person of the strongest defenders. I generally consider to give my most effective,” Koulibaly informed Rai Sport. “Since I’m below, I generally consider to mature with Napoli. I have a whole lot of enthusiasm to go on and I want to continue to keep doing this.
“I am happy that numerous groups adhere to me, but I want to exhibit on the field that I am at the degree of the best and I want to display it in the upcoming.”
Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri has defended his centre-finger gesture as the Napoli team bus arrived for Sunday’s win above Juventus, expressing it was a reaction to people who had insulted Neapolitans.
Sarri, who made the gesture as his team arrived at the Allianz Stadium, explained he had almost nothing against Juventus fans but could not tolerate discrimination against his club.
“It was not aimed at Juve fans but was a reply to people insulting and spitting at us since we are Neapolitan,” he told Mediaset.
“I would under no circumstances dream of creating this kind of a gesture in the direction of Juve fans. In our hotel, there was a Juve fan and we had a giggle and joke with him — it was almost nothing to do with fans.”
Napoli’s dramatic 1- win decreased the hole to Serie A leaders Juve to a point with four game titles of the season remaining.
Up to 20,000 fans flocked to the city’s Capodichino airport, parking their cars and trucks on the congested ring street, to rejoice as the players arrived back again in Naples.
Kalidou Koulibaly, who sparked the celebrations with a 90th-minute winner in the tightest title race Serie A has observed in six decades of Juve dominance, praised the fans.
“We understood this would be a definitely complicated game, but we did all we could to win it and so we have just obtained to be pleased with ourselves tonight,” he told Mediaset.
“The town has specified us this kind of a raise these previous couples of days, and this did us excellent.
“We wished to thank them, and the very best way was to win it. Juventus are a great facet, but Napoli confirmed we are on their degree. We have often thought in the Scudetto.
“There are nonetheless some game titles to go, but we want to win them all and then we are going to see. We feel in our football.”
Napoli, who previously won the title in 1990, travel to Fiorentina for their next game right before playing Torino, Sampdoria and Crotone.
Juve, meanwhile, have what seems to be a more durable run-in, commencing at Inter Milan — which coach Massimiliano Allegri suggests could be a title decider — right before game titles against Bologna, Roma and Hellas Verona.
A bicycle kick is identified as a rovesciata in Italian. Taken practically it can mean reversed. Just after all, you might be scoring with your back to goal. But the very best way to glance at it is upside down. The bicycle kick Simy scored to get relegation battling Crotone a point against Juventus on Wednesday evening did particularly that to Serie A. It turned a title race a lot of regarded absolutely above on its head.
Juventus started off the evening 6 points apparent of Napoli. Two times, above the program of a extraordinary evening, they found by themselves 9 points in advance of them. Presumably, younger Juventus fans went to bed considering their team could win the league with victory above Napoli at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday. It was 10pm and hapless Udinese experienced somehow contrived to get the guide for a second time in Fuorigrotta. What on earth was heading on? Udinese experienced misplaced their previous 9 games. Napoli, it appeared, had been getting rid of their nerve. But then the incredible occurred.
Simy’s bicycle kick was not as aesthetically satisfying as the a single Cristiano Ronaldo scored against Juventus in April. It will not likely be anyplace near as legendary. But maybe, with time, Napoli fans will come to glance at it with higher affection. When word achieved them that this twenty five-calendar year-old Nigerian experienced reduce Juventus down to size, the roar at the San Paolo was deafening. Down on the sidelines, Maurizio Sarri failed to know what they had been shouting about. Then it dawned on him. He questioned his assistant for the Juventus score and all the things turned apparent.
Two minutes afterwards Raul Albiol equalised for Napoli. They in no way appeared back. Arkadiuz Milik, starting up in advance of the jaded Dries Mertens, set his team in front at 10:14pm regional time. The Pole started off Napoli’s late comeback against Chievo listed here a fortnight ago when Sarri also credited the group with inspiring a determined wanting team to victory. Then Albiol’s centre-back partner Lorenzo Tonelli profited from a further corner kick schedule to seal the offer. It was Napoli’s twelfth set-piece goal this season. Tonelli employed to score routinely from those people scenarios at Empoli under Sarri and was reintroduced to the starting up XI with that firmly in thoughts. Goals have dried up for Mertens and Jose Callejon, leading Sarri to glance elsewhere for them.
Lost and found not only describes the research for alternate scorers, but Napoli’s title obstacle. As lately as three times ago it appeared useless and buried, when Milan’s Neapolitan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma denied Milik a stoppage-time winner at the San Siro. The final whistle of that game could pretty as very easily have been the sustained beep of any person flatlining. And still Napoli are alive and kicking.
Just four points different the Partenopei from Juventus in advance of Sunday night’s clash in Turin. Massimiliano Allegri statements: “I would have signed for that”, experienced anybody made available him the chance to have this kind of an benefit above Napoli heading into this game. But he struggled to cover his disappointment at dropping a further two points away to a team battling for their life. It experienced occurred away to SPAL in March and it occurred all over again in Crotone on Wednesday evening — a reminder, if a single had been necessary, that there are no straightforward games in Serie A.
Allegri was not impressed with how his team managed the game at 1-. They could have held the ball a great deal superior and employed it to higher result. “I felt like we had been heading to concede presently in the initial half,” he stated. The 10 consecutive thoroughly clean sheets Juventus started off 2018 with in Serie A sense like a extended time ago now. 1 in their past 6 in all competitions is most un-Juventus-like though Giorgio Chiellini is anticipated to return at the weekend.
Sarri, meanwhile, chose to play items down right after Napoli’s ninth come-from-driving win of the season. He was eager to point out that his team experienced presently secured qualification for the Champions League with 6 games to spare. This was the season’s aim, he claimed. In corroboration he argued there are, as far as he is aware, no title-relevant bonuses in the players’ contracts. But they do have a single for achieving the Champions League. Evidently that was the club’s principal goal, Sarri posited.
Expectation administration was the identify of this particular game or was it? By indicating Napoli have achieved their goal, Sarri desired to get the thought throughout that the tension is now off. “From tonight,” he stated, “we can enjoy ourselves. We want to have a little bit of exciting.” Creating Sunday’s game up as the be-all and end-all wouldn’t enable his players. Obviously he needs the team to go into it in as relaxed a body of thoughts as possible which, you have to say, is less complicated stated than carried out for the likes of Lorenzo Insigne and a admirer base that has waited 28 yrs for a league title.
Sarri does not consider the Scudetto will be resolved on Sunday. “Restricting it to that would seem reductive when there will be a further five games still left,” he stated. Juve nevertheless have to go to Inter and Roma whereas Napoli’s run-in, with the exception of a journey to Florence, is all downhill. “We have to check out and win,” Insigne stated.
A draw would also continue to keep items on a knife-edge, significantly when you look at Juventus also have the Coppa Italia final against Milan just four times before the Roma game at the Stadio Olimpico. Unbeaten in 29 games on the road in Serie A, a run stretching all the way back to October 2016, Napoli have to back by themselves. Nagging away at the back of their thoughts however is the expertise that their past away defeat occurred at this locale, the Allianz Stadium.
Can they arise from its partitions unscathed, possibly triumphant? Not if Juventus can enable it. The Old Girl is a femme fatale. Letting Napoli’s title obstacle to get out alive isn’t an selection. “Win on Sunday and we get rid of the league,” Allegri stated in Crotone.
No marvel La Gazzetta dello Sport is billing it la Madre di tutte le Partite: the Mom of all games.
AC Milan verify fascination for Napoli’s Pepe Reina
Milan‘s sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli confirmed current rumours prior to his side’s 2- defeat to Arsenal in the Europa League on Thursday evening, expressing that talks are staying arranged with the Spanish goalkeeper’s agent.
“We have spoken with Napoli to advise them that we want to converse with Reina’s agent, Mirabelli informed Sky Sport Italia. “This is how the rules operate. We want to see if there are the disorders to sign this participant.”
Milan’s transfer for Reina casts doubt above the foreseeable future of Gianluigi Donnarumma, who dedicated his foreseeable future to the club till 2021 previous summer season but carries on to be connected with a departure in the summer season.
Reina, 35, could, as a result, come to be Milan’s new No. one subsequent season with reports in Italy suggesting a three-year contract is to be supplied to the previous Liverpool and Bayern Munich goalkeeper.
For that reason, Napoli are staying connected with a transfer for Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno or Liverpool‘s Simon Mignolet to swap Reina, who appears to be like significantly established to leave Naples when his contract expires this June.
Ajax midfielder, Amin Younes who has been a subject of transfer speculations over the past few weeks has finally put the rumors to an end by agreeing to join Serie A leaders, Napoli
It was reported earlier that the 24-year old winger is keen on continuing his development at a top club hence his decision to link up with Napoli as he has only six months left on his contract with Eredivisie side, Ajax.
His representative, Nicola Innocentin has earlier confirmed the reported interests from Napoli, Inter Milan, Sevilla amongst a host of other top European clubs. It is now certain that Younes will join the league leaders as a free agent at the end of the season. He should have joined this transfer window had it not been for some serious personal matters not for his current employer, Ajax.
Reports emanating today stated that Ajax are asking for more than the €5m they once demanded even as the German International has completed his medicals with his new club.
While speaking with GianlucaDiMarzio.com, his representative said: “After baseless rumors that circulated in Naples today, I will like to clarify that the player went to Rome for a medical and to sign the pre-contract agreement for June, because that was the initial agreement,”
“The day after, he had a further blood test in Naples and went to see the game at the Stadio San Paolo, waiting for Ajax and Napoli to agree on the transfer.
“Meanwhile, the lad had some serious personal matters that relate to his family to deal with and those prompted him to ask the two clubs to postpone the transfer to June.
“Therefore, I wish to make it clear that Younes has returned to Germany purely because of family matters.”
Amin Younes’ representative has stated that both Inter Milan and Napoli have made contact with the Ajax Midfielder although he confirmed that there is no agreement yet with anyone. The 24-year old winger has six months left on his contract with the Eredivisie’s side and could end up joining any club for free at the end of the season but he is keen on furthering his career in a top side. Agent, Nicola Innocentin while speaking on the team that Amin could end up joining, he said: “Ajax received a €10m offer from Swansea, but they weren’t a club that, from a sporting point of view, Amin wanted to join”. “I talked to the sporting director at Ajax, Marc Overmars, and we can only talk about a transfer if it suits everyone involved. “Zenit St. Petersburg, Inter, Watford, Sevilla and Napoli have all contacted me about Amin. “However, he hasn’t agreed on anything with anyone and Napoli haven’t made any offers to Ajax or the player.”
Serie A leaders, Napoli are set to unsettle Bologna’s midfielder Simone Verdi with an offer of a tripled wage in order to persuade him with a deal this January.
Maurizio Sarri has named the Italian winger as a major target and his current club, Bologna might also to interested in doing business should Napoli meet up with their €24m demand although the player isn’t thinking of changing clubs this month.
CalcioNapoli24.it reported that Napoli are already in talks as regards the transfer that might get them the versatile winger on a four-year contract.
Verdi, who currently earns only €650,000 annually at Bologna on a contract that runs to June 2021 will be set to up that to €1.7m per year plus bonuses, which will likely his wages take it up to around €2m
Napoli midfielder, Piotr Zielinski has sounded a note of warning to his Napoli teammates that their Coppa Italia quarter-final cracker with Atalanta will not be an easy encounter.
Napoli lost twice to Atalanta last season and Zielinski expects a tough affair again.
“We are facing a very strong side, it won’t be easy, but we are only interested in winning and getting through to the next phase of the competition,” The Polish midfielder told Rai Sport.
He is expected to join Adam Ounas and Jose Callejon in their three-man attack in the absence of Lorenzo Insigne.
“I am a midfielder, but I can also play in attack when needed to give someone a rest. I’ve done well there lately, so it’s not an issue.”
The winner of the encounter will go on to face either Juventus or Torino in the Semi-Finals.
“The Coppa Italia has always meant a lot to us and we want to win it, so we have to focus on getting past Atalanta first. It won’t be an easy task. Only after that will we watch Juve-Torino tomorrow and see who we’ll face.” Zielinski concluded.
Serie A leaders, Napoli are lining up a €40m move for Fiorentina’s youngster Federico Chiesa.
Chiesa’s performance with the Viola this season has been nothing but spectacular and this has attracted interest from top clubs in Europe and Italy.
Although he insisted that Fiorentina are “a top club” and it’s only a privilege for him to wear the jersey when he recently penned a contract extension to stay at his childhood club till 2022, it’s beginning to be a common phenomenon to see young players make such loyal declaration and then do the exact opposite when a top club come knocking.
According to a report from an Italian newspaper, Il Mattino, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is making the 20-year old his top transfer priority as he looks to bring young and hungry Italian players into the club to seal their chance of winning the Scudetto this season.
However, there are other reports that Napoli are almost done with completing a deal to sign Bologna forward Simone Verdi
Napoli Captain, Marek Hamsik has expressed his joy after receiving a pleasant gift from football legend, Diego Maradona for overtaking his all-time scoring record at the club.
Even as Hamsik insists that he’s only concentrating on beating Crotone, his remarkable achievement was celebrated by his teammates as they placed a lovely patch on their jersey sleeve to highlight the landmark that the captain just achieved after overtaking Maradona’s 115 goals with his 116 goals to seal his place as the club all-time top scorer.
Hamsik told Sky Sports Italia “My mind is on the match, as it’s important and we want to end the year on a high. We are concentrated only on our performance,”
“Surpassing Maradona’s record was an achievement, but now what counts more is to win the game and get all three points for the team.
“Maradona gave me a gift. I can’t tell you what it was!”
If they can secure a win this evening it would assure Napoli’s place at the top of the table at the midway stage of the season, sealing their conquest as the Campioni d’Inverno – Winter Champions.
“We’d certainly be happy to be crowned Winter Champions, but ultimately it means little. It’s the three points that count. This is a difficult match, but we want to win.” Hamsik concluded.
Luckily the top of the table clash pitting Napoli against Juventus on Friday night will kick off very soon after the World Cup draw in Moscow. What better way to take the mind off Italy’s failure to qualify for the first time in 60 years than the game of the year in Serie A?
The face-off at the San Paolo is the best Italian football has to offer. Eight of the 11 players named in the Team of the Season at this week’s annual PFA awards play for Napoli and Juventus. Two of the others, Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves, were included on the basis of their performances for the Old Lady last season.
Gianluigi Buffon was surprised to be voted Player of the Year by his peers. He acknowledged it was a nice gesture — a lifetime achievement award in all but name. The smart money had been on Dries Mertens, or Ciro as he’s known in Naples, with whom the Juventus captain shares a place on the 30-man Ballon d’Or list along with teammate Paulo Dybala.
Whatever the lay of the land in the league, this rivalry always promises to be a tense and heated affair nowadays in light of Gonzalo Higuain’s decision to leave Napoli for Juventus the summer before last. Higuain is a doubt for Friday’s match after undergoing surgery on his hand this week. But the papers are still talking about him, speculating on his fitness and wondering whether Napoli’s players and the crowd at the San Paolo will be as fired up if Pipita is absent.
Napoli would love to show Higuain once and for all he was wrong to leave and that they’re now better off without him. Psychologically, it might push Napoli to give that extra five or 10 percent. Then again, the opposite is also true. Napoli will likely prefer Higuain to sit this one out. They know only too well what he’s capable of. Higuain returned to haunt them with immediate effect when they met in Turin this time last year. He scored the only goal of the game then struck twice at the San Paolo in the Coppa Italia semifinals.
But, come on. Napoli hardly need motivating for Friday’s game. If the Partneopei win, as they have done in three of the last five meetings with Juventus in Fuorigrotta, the pretenders will go seven points clear of the champions, who, lest we forget, still have to play Inter and Roma before the winter break. In January, they can reinforce, shopping for the depth they lack in attack, perhaps bringing Roberto Inglese’s move from Chievo forward six months.
“A defeat would be difficult to swallow,” Giorgio Chiellini said on Tuesday. “We’re not even thinking about what might happen if we fall seven points back because we hope to leave the San Paolo just a point behind [Napoli].”
Make no mistake: we’ve got a fascinating game on our hands. Part of that is down to roles reversing. For six years Juventus have had the best defence in Italy. It’s been the difference between them and the rest; that and the mentality instilled by the big characters they have at the back. Of course, one of them — Bonucci — is now gone and, up until recently, the team hasn’t been defending to the same standard set in the past.
Juventus have conceded the first goal in eight matches this season. They threw away leads against Lazio and Atalanta. Last weekend’s 3-0 win against Crotone marked only the second time this season the Bianconeri have recorded back-to-back clean sheets. The control of old is yet to materialise. Lapses in concentration and the inability to lock in from kick-off to final whistle have cost Juventus.
Now Serie A’s best rearguard belongs to Napoli. Of the nine goals they have shipped, a third have been from long distance and four have come from dead-ball situations. Napoli’s opponents are finding it hard enough just getting into their penalty area. Take Milan, for instance. They didn’t record a single touch in Napoli’s box in the first half of their 2-1 defeat in November.
This is where Napoli have improved most. The confidence in their ability to defend has allowed them to compensate for a lack of depth. Napoli rest on the ball and manage games better than ever. Criticised in the past for only being able to defend in a high press, they no longer chase if they don’t have to, raising a wall in front of their own penalty area in the final 20 minutes, safe in the knowledge that their position play is so accomplished that teams struggle to play through them. It should be a risk. But it’s not.
Napoli have matured. Little fazes them. They have gone behind on four occasions this season and always come back to win. The grit you associate with Juventus is strong in Napoli now. They win ugly, as we saw against Udinese at the weekend. More beauty than usual is to be found in Juventus’ play. They are Serie A’s top scorers with 40 goals this season. You have to go back to the 1950s to find a Juventus side this prolific. The centre of the team’s gravity has shifted from the defence to the attack.
Juventus remain in pursuit of balance though. It took them until January to find it last season. They had greater margin for error then. Juventus are a point better off than a year ago, but find themselves four points behind Napoli, not eight points in front of them as they were in 2016.
Napoli are setting an almost unprecedented pace. Last season they established a new club record points total. Now though, they’re plus-13 on last year. Only the Juventus team of 2005 — the year the Calciopoli scandal broke — have ever started better. Maurizio Sarri is realistic about Napoli’s ability to sustain this tempo. It’s true they have slowed a little of late. Napoli scored 25 goals in the opening seven games of the season. They’ve struck only 10 in the last seven.
Mertens didn’t find the back of the net in Serie A in all of November. Put it down to tiredness. Napoli started the season early in the Champions League playoffs. They lost Mertens’ stand-in, Arkadiusz Milik, to an ACL tear and then Faouzi Ghoulam, who really makes them tick down the left-hand side. Napoli just don’t have Juventus’ reserves. But 89 points in 34 games in 2017 shows this team’s consistency.
So far Napoli have delivered in all the big games, beating Lazio and Roma in Rome, then Milan at the San Paolo. Only Inter have managed to hold them. Juve by contrast have come a cropper whenever the difficulty level has increased, losing twice to Lazio, then 3-0 at Barcelona and Sampdoria [going into stoppage time]. Two-nil up against Atalanta, they drew in Bergamo.
Of course, had Dybala converted last-minute penalties against Lazio and Atalanta, the Old Lady would be level on points with Napoli. After scoring 12 goals in his first eight appearances, Dybala has found the net just twice in his last 10. Covering up for the cracks in this Juventus side at the start of the season took a great deal out of him, as did the tension of being involved in Argentina’s last-gasp qualification for the World Cup. The time has come for Dybala to step up again. The same goes for Mertens.
Twenty three games are left after Friday’s match at the San Paolo. Sixty-nine points will still be up for grabs, which is why Allegri and Sarri insist the outcome of this one won’t be decisive. Privately, however, they know, in terms of psychology, momentum and perception, this game is the game. It’s huge.
James covers the Italian Serie A and European football for ESPN FC Follow him on Twitter @JamesHorncastle.
“He’s doing well after the operation and I think he’ll do everything he can to play on Friday,” Chiellini told Sky Sport Italia. “He’s particularly keen to play in this game. Let’s see if he does manage to recover.”
Higuain is all the more keen to face his former club after being subjected to jokes and insults from Napoli fans following his injury misfortune.
“There are always those who wish you the worst for the simple fact that you play football, without knowing anything about you and your private life,” Higuain wrote on Instagram. “These kind of people who care more about other people’s suffering than about their own lives do not warrant any respect.
“The operation went very well and today is another day, and what better way to start it than with a smile and a positive feeling that everything will get better.
“I want to thank all those who have been concerned — family, friends, teammates and all the fans who, without being friends or family, still always value my work, and my love goes out to them.”
De Laurentiis’ son Edoardo, Napoli’s vice-president, has told La Gazzetta dello Sport that it is a pity Higuain might not play “because it would have been better to meet him on the field and put four goals past them.”
Napoli go into Friday night’s clash with a four-point advantage over Juve at the top of Serie A, with Inter Milan sitting between the two teams.
“Losing on Friday would be a big blow for us, but the season doesn’t end this week,” Chiellini added.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.
Algerian left-back Faouzi Ghoulam may be sidelined for the long term with a knee injury, but his future with Italian club Napoli remains headline news.
The Fennec Foxes star has been one of the most talked-about Africans stars in the transfer market, with his current contract set to expire at the end of the 2017/18 season.
Ghoulam was linked with the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and even Barcelona, with a move in the January transfer window looking very likely – until he suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this month.
In the wake of these events, it has emerged that Napoli are very close to agreeing a new contract with the Algerian.
Tuttomercatoweb has reported that a new deal for Ghoulam to remain at the Stadio San Paolo until June 2022 will soon be inked, with confirmation of the agreement set to arrive before the end of next week.
Meanwhile, Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri has described the Algerian as one of the best left-backs in European football and has admitted that his absence has been a major blow to the team.
“The absence of Ghoulam? I think it is difficult at the moment to replace it. I would say that there are currently only one or two players in Europe capable of replacing him,” said Sarri this past weekend.
“Before he got hurt, Ghoulam was one of the top three left-backs in Europe.”