Marcello Lippi admits not even winning Juventus’ last Champions League compares to lifting the World Cup as Italy CT in 2006.
Italy’s victory in Germany was made all the more impressive, given their preparations for the tournament were overshadowed by the Calciopoli scandal, while Lippi also guided Juve to European glory 1996.
“The team’s psychological situation was fantastic,” the China boss told Corriere della Sera.
“There was exceptional conviction and self-esteem. After that, what happened with Calciopoli happened, but it didn’t affect us.
“Was Calciopoli needed? I don’t know. Perhaps it wasn’t considered that certain habits didn’t belong to only one person but rather the whole system.
“Also, someone may have paid more than they should have, someone else much less… Should Buffon stay on? Let’s leave that to him.
“Pirlo’s no-look assist against Germany? When I remember how he put that pass through a melee of players, while looking the other way, with Grosso ready to his left, I think it was meant to be.
“Champions League or World Cup? I won every cup going with Juventus, but none of them compare to a World Cup in Azzurro.”
Mario Balotelli “deserves to be taken into consideration” for Italy, according to captain Gianluigi Buffon.
The Nice striker has been in fine form over the past two seasons, and has been linked with a return to Serie A when his contract expires at the end of this season.
“Regardless of whether I’d see him on the pitch again or not, I’d be happy if Mario returned to Italy,” Buffon said, speaking with Tiki Taka.
“He’d have the chance to prove that he has 100 per cent matured, and that he has what we saw as a lad or an unfinished player – i.e the ability to be a champion, to show that consistently.
“That has to be Mario’s challenge, from now until he stops playing.
“The national team? I think that Mario, for what he’s done and is doing over these two years deserves to be paid attention to and to be taken into consideration.
“In the end we’re talking about a talent who maybe never had consistency as his strong point, but Italian football hopes he has completely matured.
“I’ve seen few – maybe only [Francesco] Totti who have that power and accuracy of shooting, there’s truly no equal.
“Among the talents I forgot our friend Antonio Cassano, because Cassano is definitely one of the talents who should be put alongside these players.”
Buffon was then asked if he’d given Gigio Donnarumma the green light to carry on his legacy in the national team.
“It’s not like I gave it to him, he won it and deserved it with his performances over these years and the talent he’s displayed.
“Alisson? In my opinion Alisson is only a surprise for those who don’t know goalkeepers, and the role of the goalkeeper in general because I’d already spotted him and was aware of him for two or three years.
“He’d always struck me, above all for the calmness with which he approaches games and simplifies his saves at all times, sometimes making them seem even inoffensive, even in situations which could be a bit delicate.
“That gives calm and security to the team.
“Wojciech Szczesny? We’re really good friends. We’re very close, because at the end of the day we’ve created a wonderful union and collaboration.
“Every time Tek plays he’s a protagonist, he’s won us so many points and has allowed us to still be so close to Napoli.
“He wants us to call him Tek, because his name and surname are unpronounceable and he found a way to help everyone.”
Having given his view on the goalkeepers, the 40-year-old was then asked about forwards…
“I think that Ronaldo, il Fenomeno, at Inter was something incredible. At that time we hardly ever saw players with that physicality, that power, that speed, that technique.
“Now maybe a [Lionel] Messi has those qualities, even if he’s not as powerful. At the time though he [Ronaldo] really looked like an alien against humans.”
Napoli eased past Cagliari this evening with a convincing 5-0 win in Sardinia to move four points clear of Juventus at the top of Serie A, the Bianconeri having a game in hand after their match was postponed on Sunday due to snow.
Here’s how the Partenopei rated this evening:
REINA 6: A quiet evening and did what he had to do when called upon.
HYSAJ 6.5: Provided the assist for the goal of Dries Mertens; replaced by Christian Maggio on 72 minutes.
ALBIOL 6.5: Dealt with a couple of tricky situations and was steady all evening.
KOULIBALY 6: Suffered coping with the pace of Han and was Napoli’s worst player this evening.
MARIO RUI 7: A superb free-kick in the dying minutes capped off an impressive performance.
ALLAN 8: A man of the match performance from the Brazilian who was imperious throughout.
JORGINHO 6.5: Shadowed Joao Pedro all evening so was restricted to a more defensive role before being replaced on 75 minutes.
HAMSIK 7: Captain fantastic once again and a goal to boot; a solid display from the Slovak.
CALLEJON 7.5: Scored the opener, made the second and missed a host of chances, but the Spaniard remains vital to this Napoli side.
MERTENS 7: Another game, another goal for the Belgian and was substituted on 64 minutes with the three points in the bag.
(ZIELINSKI 6.5: Came on to good effect and won the penalty for Napoli’s fourth goal)
INSIGNE 7: Not to be out done, the Italian international slotted away the spot-kick to round off another quality night’s work.
AC Milan striker Andre Silva is failing to justify his € 38 million price-tag. The Portuguese joined the San Siro hierarchy in the summer but has only scored eight goals in 30 appearances so far this season.
The former Porto star has yet to score his first Serie A goal and his future at the San Siro is now in serious doubt.
Earlier this week, Calciomercato.com had exclusively reported that Andre Silva’s agent Jorge Mendes attended AC Milan-Ludogorets at the San Siro.
Andre Silva started the game but, yet again, failed to impress. Mendes had a meeting with Marco Fassone trying to solve the complicated situation of the disappointing Portuguese striker.
According to our transfer pundit Fabrizio Romano, AC Milan rejected a € 40 million bid from China in the January transfer window.
The rossoneri opted to keep the player in Milan till the end of the season but his price-tag is now drastically decreasing. Will AC Milan regret not selling their disappointing star when they had a chance?
The Italian national team failed to make this summer’s World Cup as they have since let go of coach Ventura. Luigi Di Biagio is the current interim head coach but their search for a new coach continues. Here is what Andrea Raggi (of Monaco) had to say on the matter as he spoke to the press during a pre-game conference:
“Italy national team? I would re-start with Ranieri and call-up Balotelli. Ranieri is ready for this opportunity as he has everything you need to become Italian national team coach. As for Mario Balotelli, he is a very good player who is doing great things with Nice. I think he can be an added weapon to Italy and I would surely call him up. He has been scoring a ton of goals and he now has a lot of experience too”.
Italy will be playing against Argentina and England up next in high end friendly games. Di Biagio will be the azzurri coach for these two games…
Atalanta President Antonio Percassi has apologised to Michy Batshuayi after the Borussia Dortmund striker heard racist abuse.
The forward tweeted a message after tonight’s 1-1 draw at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio-Emilia, which saw Dortmund qualify for the Europa League Round of 16 with a 4-3 aggregate score.
“2018 and still racists monkey noises in the stands… really?! Hope you have fun watching the rest of the Europa League on TV while we are through. #SayNoToRacism #GoWatchBlackPanther”
Atalanta President Percassi was told about the tweet when he was speaking live to Sky Sport Italia.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t hear them. If they did happen, then I am very sad and absolutely apologise to Batshuayi. This should never happen.”
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte thought that his team was unlucky to not see out the victory at Stamford Bridge this evening after a 1-1 draw against Barcelona.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, the Italian tactician claimed that his pre-match preparations had gone “almost perfectly to plan,” before adding that “my players can be very proud of what they did tonight and we are very unlucky not to be going to the Camp Nou with a lead.”
Asked about whether the performance justified his choice of playing with a false number nine and leaving out his two main strikers Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud, Conte replied: “I pick my team to play the opposition and I think that tonight my team selection was justified.”
When asked if he thought his side were still in with a chance of causing an upset in the second-leg, Conte explained that: “It is only half-time and a lot can still happen.
“We have time to prepare but there are important games in between. Of course we still feel we have a chance.”
When he spoke to Mediaset Premium, he was asked whether he would like to return to the Italian national team as Head-Coach. Conte replied; “I have a contract until 2019 and I intend to respect that.
“I’m happy here but in marriage, both partners have to be happy together.”
Ciro Immobile admits the negative streak had made Lazio “tense” and waste chances before his double beat Verona 2-0.
The striker consolidated his Capocannoniere status and ended his six-week drought with a brace, taking his Serie A tally to 22 goals.
“I am happy. It had been 44 days, plus the entire first half tonight without finding the net,” Immobile told Mediaset Premium.
“This evening I wasted chances that I would’ve put away if I’d had more confidence, but I was able to stay calm thanks to my teammates.
“We were all going through a rough patch, so I am happy for the three points. The negative run didn’t take away our self-belief, but it did make us more tense. When you lose four games in a row, it makes everything feel more difficult.
“We worked with the heart and it showed tonight. Negative periods happen to everyone in football and you can only get through them together. The team showed great maturity tonight.
“Plus tomorrow is my birthday, so it’s great timing!”
Marco Giampaolo confessed Milan “put in a strong performance and deserved” to beat Sampdoria. “It’s their best moment of the season.”
The Blucerchiati were beaten 1-0 at San Siro by a Jack Bonaventura strike, although it would’ve been a heavier scoreline if not for Emiliano Viviano’s penalty save on Ricardo Rodriguez.
“We encountered Milan during their best moment of the season,” the Coach told Mediaset Premium.
“They are a team with a lot of technique and, paradoxically, the absence of Franck Kessie made them sharper in their passing. I think tonight’s result and performance owes more to Milan than any errors we might’ve made.
“We cannot compare ourselves to Milan, yet we are level on points with them in the table and will continue to challenge for sixth place, so that is something to be proud of. I couldn’t have asked for anything more other than perhaps a little more sharpness in our passing.
“Milan put in a strong performance and deserved the win. We worked on their wide play in training this week, but they still managed to get round us with their quality.”
Gennaro Gattuso has completely transformed the Rossoneri since replacing Vincenzo Montella.
“It’s the players who make the difference, not the Coaches.”
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.