Spalletti: Inter “did not have a bad match” after loss to Genoa

Following his club’s devastating 2-0 defeat at the hands of Genoa, Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti spoke to Mediaset and tried to make sense of what happened during the preceding 90 minutes.

The loss drops them into the fourth, and final, Champions League spot in Serie A with Lazio still yet to play their match this week. With the Bianceleste set to play relegation assured Hellas Verona on Monday night, Inter is likely to be out of a Champions League spot come Tuesday morning.

“It is not easy when you take an own goal so at the end of the first half,” said the manager. “There is no peace of mind and quality in managing the ball.”

ON INTER FANS BOOING AT THE END:
The team did not have a bad performance. We have to be able to grow from time to time because it is difficult to maintain a clear direction.

ON POSITIVES FROM THE MATCH:
In the second half we played a balanced match and we deserved more, even if they deliberately time wasted. I remember important saves from Perin and not Handanovic. We have to go back to working seriously, believing in the potential of the team. There are still many games to put things right and fight until the end for qualifying in the Champions League.

Pellegri makes Monaco debut

Former Genoa prodigy Pietro Pellegri has made his Ligue 1 debut for Monaco at the age of 16, beating Kylian Mbappe’s record.
The Italian came off the bench, replacing ex-Lazio striker Keita Balde Diao, at the 85th minute of their 4-0 victory over Dijon this evening.
Pellegri set a new record as the youngest player to feature for Monaco in 40 years, aged 16 years and 336 days.
This beat previous record-holder Kylian Mbappé, who was 16 years and 347 days old.
The now Paris Saint-Germain striker even sent a message of congratulations for taking the record from him.
Pellegri will turn 17 next month, but made his Serie A debut for Genoa at the age of 15 years and 280 days.
Monaco won a bidding war with Juventus, Milan and Inter, paying €25m for the talent.

Gattuso: ‘Milan could’ve been better’

Gennaro Gattuso still wasn’t satisfied even after Milan won their Europa League tie 3-0 away to Ludogorets. “We could’ve played better.”
The Rossoneri have one foot in the Round of 16 after this first leg success in Bulgaria.
“I wouldn’t call it the perfect performance, as we could’ve played better, even if it’s always difficult in Europe,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“Ludogorets could’ve caused us problems, but we are holding on tight to this 3-0 result. I don’t think it’s a fair reflection of the game, because we could’ve done so much better. I am actually angry, as we didn’t develop our attacking moves properly.
“What does reassure me is the growing confidence in the team, even among those who don’t play as much. I want everyone to be ready and in good shape when called upon.
“I have to thank the lads, because with everything I propose to them, I see them eager and enthusiastic. I think Alessio Romagnoli is one of the best Italian defenders right now, while Patrick Cutrone and Davide Calabria can also give a great deal to the Azzurri.”
Gattuso was asked about his own future amid rumours Milan will offer him a contract extension.
“I am just enjoying the dream of being Coach of Milan at the age of 40. I have a lot to learn. We’ll see what happens, but the important thing is not whether or not Gattuso is on the bench. What matters is Milan.
“I have been given this great chance, it is an immense honour and a dream that I hope will last as long as possible.”

Ronaldo double gives Madrid advantage

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to help Real Madrid to a 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League tie.
Marcelo got Madrid’s other goal with a scuffed, deflected attempt that beat Alphonse Areola at his near post.
Adrian Rabiot netted with just over 30 minutes played after finding space on the edge of the Madrid penalty area following a Kylian Mbappe cross that fell kindly.
Ronaldo converted a penalty on the stroke of half time after Giovani Lo Celso was adjudged to have fouled Toni Kroos, Areola unable to make the save, and then was alert when Marco Asensio’s cross sat up and he was able to knee the ball over the line.
Madrid sprung a surprise with their XI as Isco got the nod ahead of Gareth Bale, while Unai Emery included ex-Barcelona pair Neymar and Dani Alves but neither of the Madrid old boys, Lassana Diarra and Angel Di Maria.
The home side started strongly with Kroos appealing in vain for a penalty and Cristiano Ronaldo flashing a cross-shot past Areola, while Marquinhos nearly sliced past his own goalkeeper after Areola saved a Kroos drive.
The visitors came more into the match as the first half wore on and neither side was able to create a notable chance, a free kick from the edge of the PSG penalty area put over the bar by Ronaldo the clearest sight of goal.
Areola had to be brave to stop a Ronaldo effort with his face just after Neymar failed to find Mbappe in the Madrid box, but a few minutes later PSG were in front through Rabiot.
Ronaldo stole possession in the PSG penalty area moments later but wasted the chance to equalise by blasting over, and Cavani’s attempt at doubling PSG’s lead was deflected wide by Sergio Ramos.
A scramble in the PSG box nearly produced an equaliser and Areola had to keep out a Karim Benzema effort but he could do nothing about Ronaldo’s spot kick.
Keylor Navas produced the first save of the second half after Neymar picked out Mbappe, the goalkeeper getting a good hand to the daisy-cutting shot, Ramos then producing his second big block of the game – this time possibly with his arm – to get in the way of a powerful Rabiot strike.
Neymar also rode his luck a little after going down too easily having already been booked in the first half and there was no luck for referee Gianluca Rocchi, who needed attention after getting a well-struck Neymar pass in the side of the head from just a few yards away.
A third Ramos block prevented PSG converting a goal-mouth scramble but the away team’s biggest threat was on the break through Neymar and Mbappe, though neither could get the final ball quite right. Yuri suffered from the same problem when his cross was inches from Alves’ boot.
PSG tried to sure up the 1-1 by introducing right-back Anthony Meunier and pushing Alves further forward but both of Madrid’s second goals came down the PSG right after Emery made the switch.
Madrid brought on Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez and Asensio to try and find a lead to take to Paris and it was thanks to Asensio that they went in front with seven minutes to play, his run and cross causing confusion in the PSG area and Ronaldo converting a looping ball with his knee.
Asensio played a key role in Madrid’s third, picking out Marcelo, making a match-winning contribution and putting Los Blancos in pole position to reach the last eight.

Pochettino: ‘Spurs dominated Juve’

Mauricio Pochettino told Italian and English television that Tottenham “dominated Juventus for most” of their 2-2 Champions League draw.
Gonzalo Higuain had put the Bianconeri 2-0 up within 10 minutes, but Harry Kane pulled one back and after Pipita’s missed penalty, Christian Eriksen fired in a free kick.
“We dominated Juve for most of the game, playing our style of football,” the tactician told Mediaset Premium in Italy.
“Perhaps on the first goal, Higuain was also offside. After going 2-0 down, my team showed a great reaction.
“Qualification for the quarter-finals is still wide open, as Juve remain a very strong squad. It’ll be a competitive game in the second leg.
“I’m glad people were entertained watching this match.”
Pochettino also spoke to English television on BT Sport ahead of the second leg at Wembley on March 7.
“I think it was a fantastic game. We conceded two goals in seven minutes, but the character we showed today was fantastic.
“Firstly I want to thank the players, because 2-0 down here in Turin against a team that is so difficult to break down, I think in the end we deserved the victory more than the draw.
“It’s important to recognise and congratulate the players, because the effort and character shown today was fantastic.
“Of course, we are more mature. We’ve been saying over the last few weeks that the team is growing and stepped up. In a difficult moment, because going 2-0 down was very difficult, the team was amazing in the way we reacted”
Pochettino conceded the missed Higuain penalty on the stroke of half-time was a decisive incident.
“It’s true, you need some luck in football. It’s true that 2-1 is not the same as 3-1, but in that moment the team did not deserve to go down by two goals.
“We played much better in the second half and in the end the draw is a good result, but there are also a few regrets, because we were much better than them.
“The tie is open and Juventus are a massive club, so of course they’ll be able to win at Wembley, but we too can hope to beat them and it’ll be great to play in front of our fans.”

Barcelona must sweat for LaLiga – Valverde

Atletico Madrid have trimmed the gap at the top of LaLiga to seven points and Ernesto Valverde knows there are battles ahead for Barcelona.
Ernesto Valverde warned Barcelona they will have to overcome plenty more dogged opponents like Getafe if they are to get their hands on the title in LaLiga.
Sunday’s goalless draw at Camp Nou made it back-to-back stalemates for the leaders, whose advantage over Atletico Madrid is now down to seven points.
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and the rest of Barca’s superstars failed to muster a shot on target during the first half and Valverde felt his players failed to adapt fully to the challenge presented by Pepe Bordalas’ side.
“We still have to sweat for this league,” he told a post-match news conference. “We are going to find many teams that are going to make our lives impossible.
“[Getafe] are an uncomfortable team and we lacked a bit of freshness to have a little more fluency. Between what they pressed and us not being fresh, it cost us.
“We lacked a bit of spark to do something else.”
Arguably the most encouraging element of Barcelona’s performance was a classy full-debut from Yerry Mina at centre-back, made all the more impressive by left-back Lucas Digne being played out of position alongside the Colombia international at the heart of defence.
“It is positive news that the two centre-backs, Yerry and Digne, have been quite good,” Valverde said.
“It was a delicate moment for them and they fulfilled their roles.”
Record signing Ousmane Dembele made his latest comeback from injury but the winger flattered to deceive in an error-strewn cameo from the bench.
“He thought he could help us but he has not been able to as many times as he would have liked,” Valverde added.
“He has gone on to the field because he had to try things. It is a first step.”

Manchester City agree deal in principle to sign Fred

Manchester City have agreed on a deal to sign the Brazilian midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk.
According to Goal, both clubs have agreed on a fee of £44.5 million and the player will complete his transfer at the end of this season.
Nothing has been signed yet, but both parties have agreed to the terms of the transfer.

Apparently, Fr ed was keen on the move and the former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva helped broker the deal.
City tried to sign the box-to-box midfielder back in January but Shakhtar were not prepared to lose him back then. The Premier League giants went on to sign Aymeric Laporte by paying his £57m buy-out clause last month.
They were linked with a move for the Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez as well but the Foxes refused to sell the Algerian. Mahrez has been on strike ever since.
Fred is likely to partner Fernandinho at the heat of Manchester City’s midfield next season. He will bring more drive and power to Guardiola’s midfield.
Guardiola must now look to improve his left-back options as well. City need to find a top quality backup for Benjamin Mendy.

Bosnia Coach: Dzeko right to snub Chelsea

Bosnia-Herzegovina Coach Robert Prosinecki trusts Edin Dzeko made the right career decisions. “Roma and Chelsea are both big clubs.”
The striker had been on the verge of a transfer to Stamford Bridge in the January window, but opted to remain at the Stadio Olimpico.
“Dzeko is Dzeko, it doesn’t matter whether he plays for Roma or Chelsea, as they are both big clubs,” Prosinecki told Klix.
The Giallorossi finished ahead of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid in their Champions League group and will face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Round of 16.
“I will soon be in Italy to view some of our players, because as well as Dzeko there are also Miralem Pjanic and Ervin Zukanovic.”
Pjanic plays his football for Juventus, while defender Zukanovic is currently at Genoa on loan from Roma.

Breaking, Fabbricini: “Conte? Anything is possible…”

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea future is in heavy doubt as a return to the Italian national team is a possibility for him. Here is what Figc’s Roberto Fabbricini had to say on the matter as he spoke to Italian press (via FootballItalia):

” Antonio Conte? He has been reconfirmed by his club and he still has 18 months left on his current deal. Even so, we know that anything is possible. Every coach is ready to become the Azzurri boss but at the same time, they have certain situations that might prevent them of doing so. New Italy coach? Things haven’t changed much over the past few days. Di Biagio will be in charge of our next two games then let’s see what happens. Costacurta hasn’t any updates on the matter either as of now. We have to be very diplomatic and avoid any bureaucratical issues. We still have some time ahead of us, let’s see…”.

Feddal out until next season

Real Betis have suffered a massive blow with central defender Zouhair Feddal set to be ruled out until next season with an Achilles injury.
The Moroccan defender suffered the injury in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at home to Villarreal and is also set to miss this summer’s World Cup for his nation.
The 28-year-old has been in strong form for Los Verdiblancos this campaign, netting three times in 15 appearances after joining from Alaves this summer.
New Betis defender Marc Bartra’s role for the remainder of the campaign is set to have increasing importance, while Jordi Amat and Aissa Mandi may be afforded more first-team opportunities.
Feddal previously played for Palermo and Parma in Italy while also representing Levante and Alaves before his move to the Seville-based club.