Liveblog: Serie A Wk5 Super Saturday

Follow all the build-up and action as it happens from today’s three Serie A games, as Atalanta host Sampdoria, Inter visit Genoa and Lazio expect goals against Bologna.

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We begin at 14.00 UK time (13.00 GMT) at the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo, where Atalanta try to bring more Champions League form to Serie A when they face Sampdoria, a side that is already fresh from surprising Lazio last week.

At 17.00 UK time (16.00 GMT), Inter are feeling the pressure after dropping points in both Europe and Italy, so they travel to a Genoa side getting over the COVID outbreak, just as the Nerazzurri are in the thick of theirs.

The evening concludes with an intriguing Lazio-Bologna at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT), as the Aquile want to prove they’re the team we saw beat Borussia Dortmund midweek in the Champions League.


New COVID clampdown on sport

COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Italy, so Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte ordered new limits on sport, playing games behind closed doors again.

The Serie A fixtures had been allowed up to 1,000 supporters in the stands so far this season, but from next weekend, it will go back to a totally empty arena.

Conte presented the latest Government decree on Saturday evening, which will shut down all amateur sport.

Only Serie A, B, C and D clubs can continue in the world of football.

Gyms, swimming pools, spas, amateur contact sport and any sporting activity in schools will all be shut down.

People are urged not to travel unless necessary, while bingo halls, casinos and theme parks are closed, along with cinemas, theatres and even open air events.

There is a rule noting that anyone who comes in from abroad must prove they are COVID-19 negative with a test taken at most 72 hours before their travel to Italy.

Restaurants, bars and bakeries are all closed on Sundays and public holidays, allowed to open only from 05.00 to 18.00 local time.

Table service is allowed for a maximum of four people, as long as they all live in the same household.


Maran: ‘Genoa conceded in best period’

Genoa coach Rolando Maran denies his men were excessively-defensive in the 2-0 home defeat to Inter. ‘We conceded during our best period of the game.’

The Grifone were focused more on neutralising Inter than winning the game, eventually broken down by Romelu Lukaku and Danilo D’Ambrosio.

“We conceded a goal during our best period of the game, as we did well after the break and were starting to create our own chances when Inter took the lead,” the Genoa coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“Some of our players have really barely trained at all and that shows with the lack of consistency over 90 minutes. We didn’t have shots on target, but only because we got the final ball wrong. Sharpness in some moments can make the difference.”

The Rossoblu were the worst affected team by COVID-19, and although most of the players have now recovered, the effects of quarantine drag on.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to work together very much and there are consequences to that. The players finish the match absolutely exhausted. It’s a pity they weren’t rewarded for their efforts with a result today, because we were largely in control.

“I do believe a team should be pro-active and positive, but without losing its balance. Just defending well is not enough. I asked the team at half-time to be more attack-minded, as if I have to lose a few games, we should at least use them as investments to gain experience for winning others.”

Genoa were hit by COVID again, as it emerged Gianluca Scamacca was ruled out by a virus scare.

“The swab result didn’t come through in time, it wasn’t clear enough, so we didn’t really have time to get him into the squad once the negative result arrived.

“Each player reacted differently to the virus and the time it takes to get back into shape will be different too.”


Inter: Hakimi negative for COVID

Inter have announced Achraf Hakimi has tested negative for coronavirus.

The full-back carried out the swab test yesterday and the club has confirmed he has tested negative for COVID-19.

“FC Internazionale Milano announce that Achraf Hakimi tested negative for the swab carried out yesterday after the positive results found by UEFA tests ahead of the match against Borussia Mönchengladbach,” the club wrote.

“The player, completely asymptomatic, was subjected to a further swab test today to assess his actual situation.”


Maran wants ‘courageous’ Genoa

Rolando Maran said Genoa are ‘monitoring the recovered players day by day’ and wants to see a Grifoni with ‘something to prove’ against Inter on Saturday.

The Rossoblu are back in action after a difficult period dealing with several cases of coronavirus among players and staff.

Against Hellas Verona last time, Maran had to cope without seven players out with COVID, but five of them have recovered this week.

“The week was different, in the sense that there are those who could do a certain kind of work and others who had to work differently,” Maran told the club’s official website.

“But the important thing is that many of these guys have returned to train in groups because it gave the right morale and enthusiasm to face this week.

“I’m evaluating, we are monitoring the players day by day to understand what their answers are. In the morning, we will do our refinement to understand who may be available. And how they can be.”

Genoa have five games in two weeks before the next international break and Maran admitted he wants to approach the games with ‘something to prove’.

“We have to think about one game at a time, live all the matches as a Final, like we did in Verona.

“We must be focused on the commitment that is to come, then the rest will follow. Now, let’s focus on this match, which is very risky, but also very stimulating.

“We must face it with the right attitude, with that of a team who always want to prove something.”

Inter come from three games without a win across all competitions and Maran wants his Genoa team to play with ‘courage’ against the Nerazzurri.

“I ask for personality and courage to do the things we have planned,” he said. “I ask that there’s the desire to determine a game with a lot of difficulties for the moment we are going through and for the technical calibre of our opponents.

“We all have to concentrate on ourselves and put our characteristics on the pitch, to not leave any stones unturned out there.

“That must be our main aspect.”

Genoa have picked up four points from three Serie A games so far.


Conte: ‘Inter are playing good football’

Coach Antonio Conte points at Liverpool as an example to be patient regarding ‘the path that we have chosen’ but admitted Inter ‘must keep improving’.

After a 2-2 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League, Inter are back in Serie A action against Genoa tomorrow.

The Nerazzurri coach believes Inter have ‘picked up less than we deserve’ this season and stressed he’s not worried after a few difficult weeks.

“We must look at our own squad, we are trying to manage the situation and at the moment, we are trying to play the best possible way every three days,” Conte said at a press conference.

“Recovering the players and preparing the matches. They are all different games, and we must try to do it all: give the players a good recovery and prepare for the matches in the right way.

“I’m not worried at all because the path we have chosen makes me, the players and the club happy. We are playing well, we are playing good football and we are picking up less than we deserve.

“Sometimes they punish us for some carelessness that we can avoid, but I’m happy that my people believe in a certain idea and the determination they put into it.”

Conte believes the Nerazzurri are superior in terms of ‘intensity’ and thinks the decicive details have gone against his side so far in 2020-21.

“If we talk about the intensity, I think we were superior also in the last game against the Germans. I think it’s the right way, then, as I always say, you often let yourself be influenced by the result.

“If I look at the performance, I’m satisfied with what we do, but above all, I see satisfaction from my players.

“The final result also depends on other factors, post-out and post-in, which has been negative for us.

“We always have to offer 110 per cent to get a good result as well as the performance.

“We have to work, but we have to take [Jurgen] Klopp’s Liverpool as an example. They haven’t won anything for four years and now they are a war machine.

“They were happy with what they were building. That’s the path we have taken with the executives and the President and from the outside we can perceive the type of structure that is settling. This makes us happy.”

Inter have been struggling to keep a clean sheet this season and Conte admitted the Nerazzurri have to improve.

“If we look at what we are trying to do, how we are trying to involve the whole squad, then it’s inevitable that the characteristics of some performers change from last year.

“We scored many goals and could have scored more. We conceded avoidable goals and often due to individual situations that we can improve.

“We must keep improving and there’s also a positive aspect: many players played immediately and gained experience because of the absence of many players.

“We will continue to work, to play games. Up to now, there hasn’t been a single team that have been superior to us.”


Lippi: ‘I’m done coaching’

Former Italy CT and World Cup winner Marcello Lippi has revealed he has coached for the last time. ‘I’m definitely done with coaching’.

Lippi’s has been without a job since he let the position as China CT in November 2019 and leaves a 30-year-long career in the dugout.

He started as the U19 coach at Sampdoria and has memorable spells with Atalanta, Napoli, Inter and Juventus before he became the Azzurri CT in July 2004.

The 72-year-old picked up five Scudetti, one Coppa Italia and one Champions League title with the Old Lady, but his biggest achievement must be the 2006 World Cup with the Azzurri in Germany.

Lippi didn’t say he was completely done with football and hopes to ‘be useful in other roles’ in the future.

“I’m definitely done with the coaching job,” Lippi told Radio Sportiva. “That’s right, it’s enough.

“Maybe I could be useful in other roles, let’s see. But nothing until spring.”


Abate: ‘Zlatan is the driving force’

Former Milan full-back Ignazio Abate said Zlatan Ibrahimovic ‘continues to make a difference’ and stressed he was ‘angry he missed the penalty’ against Inter.

The Swede scored a brace to help Milan beat Inter for the first time in four years. But Abate revealed the 39-year-old was ‘angry’ that he was denied by Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic from the spot kick in the 13th minute, before scoring from the rebound.

“I spoke to him after the derby and he was angry for having missed the penalty,” Abate told SkySport24. “This speaks volumes about his mentality.

“He has always been the driving force, we all followed him closely.”

Abate insists the Rossoneri did well to extend his contract and believes the veteran continues ‘to make the difference’ at Milanello.

“Time passes for everyone, but he’s always there. He has a stratospheric psycho-physical level. It’s correct that he continues to play, because he still makes the difference.

“Zlatan surprised me, but knowing him, if he chose to return, it’s because he was certain he could bring this performance.”


Bastoni: ‘Happy to be back’

Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni was ‘happy to be back’ in action against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Wednesday.

The Nerazzurri centre-back tested positive for coronavirus on international duty with Italy U21, but recovered last week and was back in the squad in the 2-2 draw with Gladbach in the first Champions League match of the season.

“I’m happy to be back on the pitch, but it’s a shame about the result,” Bastoni wrote on Instagram. “We still need to work and improve a lot.

“Now, we focus on Saturday.”

The 21-year-old replaced Ivan Perisic after 79 minutes at San Siro last night and had played 2 games in Serie A before testing positive for the virus.


CL: Inter battle to Gladbach draw

It was a topsy-turvy game at San Siro, as Romelu Lukaku’s brace ultimately rescued Inter from a home defeat in their 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach.

Follow all the action as it happens from this game and Midtjylland-Atalanta on the LIVEBLOG.

In the same group, Real Madrid suffered a shock 3-2 home defeat to decimated Shakhtar Donetsk, having been 3-0 down at half-time with a last-gasp equaliser disallowed.

The Nerazzurri had to revamp their squad, as between COVID-19 and injuries, they missed Achraf Hakimi – who tested positive just hours before kick-off – Milan Skriniar, Ashley Young, Roberto Gagliardini, Ionut Radu, Stefano Sensi and Matias Vecino, with Alessandro Bastoni, Radja Nainggolan and Marcelo Brozovic only fit for the bench, so Christian Eriksen got a rare start. Gladbach were without Denis Zakaria, Laszlo Benes, Andreas Poulsen, Mamadou Doucoure, Louis Beyer, Kaan Kurt and Inter loanee Valentino Lazaro.

Matteo Darmian was the last-minute replacement for Hakimi and had the first chance, nodding the Ivan Perisic cross over. Darmian also set up Eriksen for a shot charged down by Kramer from 12 yards, the Dane saw another attempt blocked by defensive bodies.

Just before the break, Lukaku got away from defenders with a step-over and his shot flashed across the face of goal.

Inter were toothless, so Lautaro Martinez replaced Alexis Sanchez for the restart. It made an immediate impact, as they scored just four minutes later.

Lautaro’s header was going wide, but Danilo D’Ambrosio knocked it back from the by-line and Darmian prodded the ball on for Lukaku to fire in from close range.

Darmian was having an impressive debut in the Nerazzurri jersey and saw his shot blocked by Ginter, but Gladbach received a penalty when Arturo Vidal tripped Marcus Thuram. The referee hadn’t spotted it, but made the decision after a VAR check, and Champions League debutant Ramy Bensebaini buried it into the bottom corner to equalise.

Darmian threatened on the counter immediately, his ball neither a cross for Ivan Perisic, nor a shot to the far bottom corner.

There was chaos on 84 minutes, as first Lautaro Martinez’s glancing finish thumped the upright from close range, then Samir Handanovic came flying out into midfield to clatter into Alassane Plea and was fortunate to only be booked.

Gladbach pounced on a defensive error to take the lead for the first time on 84 minutes, as Vidal completely failed to cut out the Neuhaus slide-rule pass, sending Jonas Hofmann clear to nutmeg on-rushing Handanovic. There was a very long break while the VAR checked a possible offside, as Plea appeared to get a touch, but it was given.

No sooner had play resumed, Inter came pouring forward and Darmian’s header was fingertipped over the bar. On the resulting Aleksandar Kolarov corner, Alessandro Bastoni flicked it on for Lukaku to bundle over the line at the back post.

Deep into stoppages, Kolarov’s free kick hit the wrong side of the net, with the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.

Inter 2-2 Borussia Monchengladbach

R Lukaku 49, 90 (I), Bensebaini pen 63 (B), Hofmann 84 (B)

Inter: Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Kolarov; Darmian, Barella, Vidal, Perisic (Bastoni 79); Eriksen (Brozovic 79); Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez (Lautaro Martinez 46)

Borussia Monchengladbach: Sommer; Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Bensebaini; Kramer, Neuhaus; J Hofmann, Embolo (Herrmann 74), Thuram (Wolf 95); Plea

Ref: Kuipers (NED)