Liveblog: Serie A Wk9 Super Saturday

Join us for the build-up and action as it happens from today’s three Serie A games, as Inter visit second-placed Sassuolo, Juventus face Benevento without Cristiano Ronaldo and Atalanta host Verona.

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We begin at 14.00 GMT at the Mapei Stadium with a fascinating head-to-head for second place, as Sassuolo are still unbeaten and brimming with confidence, hoping to make Antonio Conte’s week even worse after a Champions League setback.

With a victory, the Neroverdi would go six points clear of Inter in the table.

At 17.00 GMT, Juventus take a risk by visiting Benevento without Cristiano Ronaldo, who is rested, so Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata must deliver the goals.

And at 19.45 GMT, there’s an intriguing tactical duel between Gian Piero Gasperini and his protégé Ivan Juric, as Atalanta are fresh from conquering Anfield as they face Hellas Verona.

There will be a minute’s silence before every game in honour of Diego Armando Maradona, with his image also on the screens at the 10th minute.

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Highlights: Sassuolo 0-3 Inter

Inter were absolutely clinical at the Mapei Stadium, harassing Sassuolo into errors and making the most of them to end the Neroverdi’s unbeaten record.

This win allowed Antonio Conte’s men to catch Sassuolo in second place on 18 points and inflict the first defeat of the season on Roberto De Zerbi and co.

It was a lightning start with Lautaro Martinez and Alexis Sanchez pouncing on a poor clearance and beating the on-rushing goalkeeper within four minutes.

Arturo Vidal’s cross was then accidentally bundled into his own net by unlucky Vlad Chiriches, who would later go off injured.

Filip Djuricic saw his effort hit the upright for the hosts, but Roberto Gagliardini completed the rout with a sensational half-volley off the outside of the boot.

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Gagliardini: ‘Prefer these Inter tactics’

Roberto Gagliardini admits Inter ‘couldn’t afford to get it wrong’ against Sassuolo and worked better with a more traditional 3-5-2 formation.

Alexis Sanchez scored the opener, Arturo Vidal forced an own goal and Gagliardini added the third goal in the 3-0 victory.

“It was a game we couldn’t afford to get wrong. We went into it with the right attitude, showing Sassuolo absolute respect, but also putting our qualities onto the field,” Gagliardini told Sky Sport Italia.

“There are difficult moments when we’re getting hammered from all corners, there’s not much to say, we just have to immediately turn over a new leaf and focus on the next match.

“We saw the team was much more compact, we allowed Sassuolo very little and remained focused throughout.”

There was a tactical change to more of a traditional 3-5-2, removing the trequartista role from the equation and using Nicolò Barella in front of the defence.

“It helped, as playing with three in midfield, we were able to cover the spaces better. We also used this system last season, so we knew it well and didn’t take long to settle into it.

“I think the biggest difference today was we knew how to wait for Sassuolo and press them in the right moments. This way, we allowed them to keep the ball and pass it, but then intervened at the right time to counter.”

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Inzaghi: ‘Pirlo at Juve doesn’t surprise me’

Benevento coach Filippo Inzaghi said he’s ‘not surprised’ his former teammate Andrea Pirlo is the coach of Juventus. ‘We are talking about a champion’.

Benevento host Juventus in Serie A on Saturday and the two ex-Milan and former Italy internationals teammates clash for the first time as coaches in the top flight.

Pirlo replaced Maurizio Sarri ahead of the new season and the Bianconeri are still unbeaten in Serie A under the new coach.

Inzaghi said they still have always had a ‘great relationship’ and recalled how they ‘did great things at Milan’.

“I’m not surprised he has this job,” Inzaghi said at a press conference. “We are talking about a champion who, as a player, has won everything.

“There has always been a great relationship between us, as we arrived at Milan together.

“I remember we had the same agent, Tullio Tinti, who offered him to the Rossoneri the day I signed.

“He didn’t find space at Inter and we eventually did great things at Milan together.”

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Inter: Nainggolan out against Sassuolo

Inter have announced Radja Nainggolan has suffered an injury in his left leg and will not be available against Sassuolo.

The Belgian has struggled after his return to Inter and the club confirmed in a statement that the midfielder has suffered a muscle injury in the left foot.

Since his return from loan at Cagliari, the midfielder has struggled to reclaim a place in the Nerazzurri squad.

Nainggolan has partly been struggling due to several setbacks, but the reports in Italy also claim it’s somewhat related to his relationship with coach Antonio Conte.

Inter confirmed another muscle injury forces the player to miss out against Sassuolo, but Nainggolan has yet to start in Serie A this term.

He has appeared four times and completed 42 minutes in the League since his return to San Siro, whilst he came on to play the last three minutes of the 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid in Spain on November 3.

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Inter to rest Lukaku against Sassuolo?

Sky Sport Italia reports Romelu Lukaku could be rested when Inter play Sassuolo in Serie A on Saturday.

As Juventus have revealed Cristiano Ronaldo will not play against Benevento, the broadcaster reveals Inter could rest the Belgian centre-forward against the Neroverdi.

The Belgium international returned from an injury that kept him out of the matches against Parma and Real Madrid ahead of the international break.

To avoid overloading the former Manchester United forward, Alexis Sanchez could get the go ahead against Sassuolo this weekend.

Sky writes he will be paired with Lautaro Martinez in the starting line-up, as coach Antonio Conte has one eye on the important match against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Champions League.

The report claims Matteo Darmian and Ivan Perisic could replace Achraf Hakimi and Ashley Young out wide, but Stefano Sensi doesn’t seem ready to return from the first minute in the middle.

Marcelo Brozovic fights to return in time after having tested negative for coronavirus this week, but Nicolò Barella, Arturo Vidal and Roberto Gagliardini are still expected to start.

Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni seem set to continue at the back.

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Conte: ‘If I don’t last until Christmas…’

Antonio Conte admits if he is sacked at Inter before Christmas, it’ll be ‘because I didn’t deserve’ to stay, but denies the squad is working against him.

The coach is under fire after another Champions League defeat, this time 2-0 at home to Real Madrid, leaving them with just two points from four rounds.

Conte was given the infamous Tapiro d’Oro trophy – the Golden Tapir – by satirical television show Striscia La Notizia today.

He was asked if he will ‘eat the panettone’ – a common phrase meaning he might not be around to enjoy the traditional Christmas delicacy at the club party.

“There is a lot of work to be done, but if I don’t eat the panettone, it’ll be because I didn’t deserve to,” replied Conte.

However, when asked if the team was working against him, his mood became more irritable.

“That’s a stupid question.”

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Inter: Brozovic negative for COVID

Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic has tested negative for coronavirus and hopes to be ready in time to face Sassuolo in Serie A this weekend.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Croatian has recovered from COVID-19 and will now carry out the necessary fitness tests before he can re-join the group at Pinetina.

Brozovic could be available for the match against Sassuolo at the Mapei Stadium on Saturday, if he gets the required procedures done in time.

The negative test comes less than two weeks after his positive result on November 13 during international duty with Croatia.

There are still two players positive for COVID-19 in coach Antonio Conte’s squad, as goalkeeper Daniele Padelli and defender Aleksandar Kolarov are still out with the virus.

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Modric: ‘Real deserved win’

Luka Modric said Real Madrid ‘deserved to win’ against Inter in the Champions League on Wednesday. ‘We played together and for each other’.

Real Madrid came out on top as 2-0 winners at the Giuseppe Meazza last night, when Inter played 57 minutes with 10 men due to Arturo Vidal’s sending off in the first half.

Modric was pleased to get away with the three points and said Los Merengues played exactly how he wanted.

“I said it would be a Final for us, we played a great game,” Modric told UEFA.com. “We did what I asked for: playing together for each other.

“We deserved to win. Having lost key players, we had to play as a group and give something more individually.

“We have shown team spirit and the character that we have always shown in this competition. We are happy with our performance.”

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HT: Inter see red with Real Madrid

Inter are 1-0 and a man down at home to Real Madrid, as Eden Hazard converted a penalty and Arturo Vidal saw red for dissent after his appeal.

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The group was extremely tight going in, as the Nerazzurri had just two points, Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk four, but Borussia Monchengladbach beat the Ukrainians 4-0 in an earlier kick-off to reach eight points.

Marcelo Brozovic and Aleksandar Kolarov were still out with COVID, but Madrid made the trip to San Siro without Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, Federico Valverde, Eder Militao, Luka Jovic and Alvaro Odriozola. They moved tactics to 4-2-3-1 with Lucas Vazquez, Martin Odegaard and Eden Hazard supporting Mariano Diaz.

It was a bad start for Inter, as Nicolò Barella ran into the back of Nacho and clipped his heels for an avoidable and naïve penalty. Eden Hazard converted with power, despite Samir Handanovic guessing the right side.

Lucas Vazquez almost made it 2-0 soon after, his sudden snapshot bouncing off the base of the upright with Handanovic nowhere near it.

Arturo Vidal gave the ball away cheaply and was lucky Real Madrid failed to make the most of it, but Romelu Lukaku fired a free kick over from the edge of the area.

Hazard stung Handanovic’s gloves at the near post, but things went from bad to worse when Vidal went down in the box under pressure from two Real Madrid players. Not only did the referee not view it again on VAR, he booked Vidal for dissent, swiftly followed by another card to reduce Inter to 10 men.

The Nerazzurri struggled to keep their heads and Luka Modric scuffed his finish just wide.

Inter 0-1 Real Madrid (Half-Time)

E Hazard pen 7 (R)

Inter: Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Gagliardini, Young; Vidal; Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez

Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Kroos; Lucas Vazquez, Odegaard, E Hazard; Mariano Diaz

Ref: Taylor (ENG)

Sent off: Vidal 33 (I)

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