Gabigol misses Paulista derby clash between Palmeiras and Santos

Inter fans will be interested to note that Gabriel Barbosa was not called up by Santos ahead of tonight’s match against São Paulo state rivals Palmeiras. Coach Jair Ventura decided he had not trained enough since rejoining the Vila Belmiro outfit, and therefore could not be counted on ahead of such a crucial match.

The 21-year-old returned to his boyhood club having endured a frustrating 18 months in Europe, firstly with the Nerazzurri and then on loan at Liga NOS champions Benfica. Several esteemed coaches such as Frank De Boer, Stefano Pioli, Luciano Spalletti and Rui Vitória have all failed to get the best out of him, with many suggesting he does not work hard enough in training.

Indeed, not one of the aforementioned tacticians managed to work out what Gabigol’s best position is. He was often deployed on the right-wing during his previous spell at Santos, but it is debatable whether he has the defensive aptitude to play in such a role in the old continent, where the standard of competition is much higher.

Juve consider tactical shift

Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa are both in doubt to face Sassuolo on Sunday, so Juventus consider a change of tactics.

The Bianconeri are certainly missing Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado and Benedikt Howedes.
Douglas Costa worked on a personalised schedule, while Bernardeschi only took part in some of today’s training session.
It’s reported Max Allegri could transform his tactics in the circumstances, returning to a 3-5-2 formation.
Another option could see Alex Sandro moved up from his usual left-back role to a more advanced position in the trident attack alongside Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic.

Barca 0-0 Valencia

Philippe Coutinho managed 66 minutes on his full Barca debut against Alaves last weekend, and he was replaced on the Catalans’ right wing by Aleix Vidal.
Elsewhere, Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba came into into the full-back positions and Paulinho made way for Sergio Busquets in central midfield.
Marcelino, meanwhile, rang the changes after Valencia’s 4-1 home defeat to Real Madrid as Gabriel Paulista, Ruben Vezo, Andreas Pereira, Carlos Soler and new boy Luciano Vietto were all summoned.
The two sides last met in November, when Alba rescued Barca a 1-1 draw at Mestalla, yet their previous encounter at this stage saw the Blaugrana demolish Los Che – then coached by Gary Neville – 7-0.
However, there was no such entertainment on Thursday, with the hosts dominating possession but struggling to break down a Valencia side that were well-drilled and well-organised.
Suarez came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half, but the rebound from Andres Iniesta’s saved cross-shot fell a whisker away from the No 9, who was unmarked in the six-yard box.
Martin Montoya, on the other hand, could’ve scored against his former club, his first-time volley leaving Jasper Cillessen fixated on his line, but it flashed just wide.
HT: Barcelona 0-0 Valencia
Barcelona: Cillessen; Sergi Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Aleix Vidal, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez
Valencia: Domenech; Montoya, Vezo, Gabriel Paulista, Gaya; Soler, Parejo, Coquelin, Pereira; Vietto, Moreno
Referee: Sanchez Martinez

Peres: Love Roma too much

Bruno Peres has revealed that “I made the decision to stay at Roma” out of his ‘love’ for the club and city.
“I made the decision to stay at Roma,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I didn’t do it out of pride, even though it would’ve been easier for me to turn the page.
“What convinced me to stay was my love for this city, these colours and the Roma fans. I couldn’t leave this way.
“I want to redeem myself and help my teammates in every way possible, as well as the Coach and club to achieve the objectives that this team deserve.
“We’re all together. Always Forza Roma!!!”

Tosca from Betis to Benevento

Benevento are reported to have agreed a deal to sign full-back Alin Tosca on loan with option to buy from Real Betis.
The Romania international is 25 years old and only joined the Spanish club a year ago for €1m.
This season he had eight competitive appearances for Betis.
According to Sky Sport Italia, the two clubs have agreed terms for a loan with option to buy.
It seems Tosca was requested specifically by Coach Roberto De Zerbi, who already wanted the player when he was at the helm of Palermo.

Inzaghi furious with Cutrone handball decision

Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi spoke to Sky Sport in the aftermath of his side’s 2-1 defeat to AC Milan. The Biancocelesti tactician was visibly frustrated by the fact Patrick Cutrone’s goal had been allowed to stand, with replays appearing to show the ball coming off his arm before hitting the net. Here is what he had to say:
 
“Honestly, I have not seen the replays. I have been informed about the mistake, and at the end of the game I asked Cutrone whether it was a handball. Probably if I had seen the replays I would be even more irritable than I am. Mistakes like that cannot and should not happen.
 
“Milan played better in the first half, and Lazio did better in the second half. We should have avoided conceding the second goal, and ought to have stopped Calabria from getting a cross in. We did not want to lose, but this is football. Milan took advantage of the opportunity they had. The first goal should have been disallowed, then the game probably would have ended in a draw.”
 

Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice in Real Madrid win

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot as Real Madrid recorded a 4-1 win over Valencia in Saturday afternoon’s pulsating La Liga clash at the Mestalla.
The result has seen Madrid move to within two points of third-placed Valencia, but the Spanish champions are still 16 points off league leaders Barcelona.
It was the perfect response to the club’s shock Copa del Rey elimination to Leganes on Wednesday night.
Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale started together for Los Blancos for the first time since April 2017, but Sergio Ramos missed out for the visitors.
Valencia, meanwhile, had former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin at centre-back due to the absences of Ruben Vezo and Gabriel Paulista, who were both suspended.
Real Madrid had a super chance to take the lead in the seventh minute when the ball fell kindly for Bale inside the Valencia box, but the Welshman could only fire straight at Neto.
Rodrigo had Valencia’s first sight of the Real Madrid goal in the 10th minute, and the forward’s powerful effort was not too far away from the target.
Valencia were undone on the counter in the 15th minute, however, with Real Madrid winning a penalty when Ronaldo was brought to the ground by Martin Montoya. The number seven stepped up to send his spot kick past Neto as Real Madrid took a 16th-minute lead at the Mestalla.
The home side came close to levelling the scores in the 28th minute when Geoffrey Kondogbia was given the freedom of the Real Madrid penalty box, but the Frenchman saw his effort beaten away by Keylor Navas.
Kondogbia had an even better chance to level 10 minutes before the break, but the midfielder had a fresh-air shot when the away side were struggling to clear the ball.
Valencia conceded another penalty in the 37th minute, however, when Montoya bundled into the back of Benzema inside the penalty box; Ronaldo again stepped forward, and it was the same outcome as the Portuguese slotted past Neto.
Rodrigo just lifted the ball too high of Real Madrid’s crossbar as Valencia looked to hit back late in the first period, but the visitors entered the break with a two-goal advantage.
After a bright start to the second half from Valencia, Real Madrid had a chance to grab a third in the 54th minute when Ronaldo fed Benzema inside the box, but the striker ultimately hit the side-netting.
Valencia were back in the match just before the hour, however, when Santi Mina rose highest inside the box to head a Dani Parejo corner into the Real Madrid goal.
Parejo brought a wonderful save from Navas in the 66th minute as Valencia looked for the equaliser, before Rodrigo just missed the post with a low effort. Ronaldo then had a super chance to score a third as he met a low cross from Bale, but Valencia goalkeeper Neto made an excellent save.
Both managers made changes in the period that followed, with Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio coming off the Real Madrid bench, while Simone Zaza and Andreas Pereira entered for the home side.
Ronaldo fired over the Valencia crossbar in the 82nd minute as Madrid passed up another chance to score a third, but the Spanish champions did make it 3-1 two minutes later when Marcelo played a one-two with Asensio before firing the ball through the legs of Neto.

Galliani enters politics

Former Milan CEO Adriano Galliani has resigned as President of Silvio Berlusconi’s television station to run for the Senate in his Forza Italia party.
Galliani has been working closely with Berlusconi for well over 30 years and that doesn’t seem to be changing.
He left Milan after three decades as their CEO when Berlusconi sold the club to Yonghong Li.
Galliani took on a new role as President of Mediaset Premium, the pay-per-view television channels owned by Berlusconi’s Fininvest holding company.
Now he has resigned from that position too, as he’ll run for election to the Italian Senate as a candidate representing Berlusconi’s political party, Forza Italia.

Chelsea fed up with Conte’s moans over control of transfers

Chelsea are losing patience with Antonio Conte’s complaints about the club’s January transfer activity and will warn the Italian that he cannot continue to imply he has no input into signings when they are working hard to recruit targets whom their manager specifically requested.
Chelsea are trying to sign Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmieri from Roma on Conte’s recommendation but that jarred with the wording of his answers at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday when he instead implied that the club are choosing the players

In remarks that have not gone unnoticed by the board, Conte said: “I think the club decide our transfer market. As I said before, my task is to try to improve the transfer market. The club decides every player.”
The club do not want Conte to suggest again that executives, including director Marina Granovskaia, are dictating player recruitment policy to him when he holds a press conference today ahead of the FA Cup fourth-round tie against Newcastle United

Buffon back in Juventus training

Gianluigi Buffon has returned to training with his Juventus teammates, after close to two months out with injury.
The goalkeeper last featured for the Bianconeri in the 1-0 win over Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo on December 1, as he’s been struggling with a thigh injury.
Following Monday night’s 1-0 win over Genoa, Coach Massimiliano Allegri said the captain would return to training this week, and the 39-year-old returned to action at Vinovo today.
Juve confirmed the news with a video posted on their official Twitter account, and Buffon will now be in contention to face Chievo at the weekend.