Pirlo wary of Napoli ‘pace and technique’

Andrea Pirlo warns Napoli ‘pace and technique’ can make the difference in the Supercoppa, but Juventus want to ‘prove we’re not the team we saw’ against Inter.

It kicks off on Wednesday at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia at 20.00 GMT.

“Napoli are a very strong team with a lot of pace and technique in the side, so we must be wary of them,” said the coach in his press conference.

“They have a defence that works very tightly, so we must make the most of the scoring opportunities that we create.”

Merih Demiral is the latest player to miss out, along with Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, Alex Sandro and Matthijs de Ligt, and the Bianconeri are already smarting after a 2-0 defeat to Inter on Sunday evening.

“Gigi Buffon has a few problems, so Wojciech Szczesny will start in goal. It’s an important match, a Final, it comes after a bad defeat in Serie A, so we are eager to get back out there with determination and hunger to bring home the trophy.

“When you lose like that, you wouldn’t repeat anything, so it’s all a learning experience. We’re determined to turn over a new leaf, cancel out Sunday’s game and fortunately we’re back on the field straight away, so we can prove that we’re not the team we saw at San Siro. I didn’t say we were afraid of Inter, just that we were timorous compared to the attitude we should’ve had.

“This is a difficult moment, there are many over the course of a season, especially after losing an important game. It’s an advantage for us that we are immediately back on the pitch challenging to bring home a trophy.

“I am disappointed for the players, especially as some were attacked unfairly. I’d prefer for the critics to attack me rather than them. There’s no turning point, no crossroads, there’s just a Final to win and that’s why we are here.”

With Dybala injured, there are reports Dejan Kulusevski could be chosen rather than Alvaro Morata in the starting XI.

“It depends on how we want to play and approach the game. I have an idea in my head, but we’ll see how the players recover and who will start.”

Pirlo shrugged off questions about Juventus perhaps feeling sated after nine Scudetto titles in a row.

“If a team won nine years in a row, that’s not a coincidence. It was earned with hard work and we have the same ambition, because Juve will always challenge for trophies, and we have the same hunger to win a 10th consecutive title.

“The project is to get the best out of every individual player and for Juventus. There have been a few slip-ups, but that’s inevitable.”


Danilo: ‘Juve prove ourselves in Supercoppa’

Danilo insists the Supercoppa against Napoli is the opportunity for Juventus to ‘prove not what we want to be, but what we are.’

It kicks off on Wednesday at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia at 20.00 GMT.

The match comes just days after the 2-0 defeat to Inter in the Serie A Derby d’Italia.

“We must be different to the performance against Inter. We must be concentrated from the first to the 90th minute, because we need to play these games with courage and playing the ball,” said Danilo in his press conference.

“We’ve already shown this season that we can step up for the big games and have a strong team. It’s a great opportunity to prove not what we want to be, but what we are.

“We are the first to be disappointed by the performance at San Siro. It was not worthy of Juventus, but tomorrow we can show what we can do and that is to win.”

Merih Demiral is the latest absentee due to injury, joining Paulo Dybala, Matthijs de Ligt, Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro in the stands.

“We have a competitive squad with lots of talented players, so we’re not looking for alibis. We have the players who can do well and win the match tomorrow.

“We’ve had to deal with absentees all season. Clearly, we’ll miss Demiral and De Ligt in defence, but we have Giorgio Chiellini back now, and he did really well against Inter, and Leonardo Bonucci too.”


Agent confirms Zaccagni Verona exit

Mattia Zaccagni ‘will certainly find space at one of the big Italian clubs in June, as Hellas Verona cannot keep him,” said his agent.

The 25-year-old creative midfielder is a product of the Verona youth academy and has gone from strength to strength over the last two seasons.

In the current campaign, he scored four goals and provided six assists in 18 Serie A games, earning interest from Napoli, Milan, Inter, Roma and Lazio.

“Mattia really made his mark and Hellas know he’s a player with a lot of interest around him, so I think he will certainly move in June, because Verona are no longer in a position to keep him,” agent Tullio Tinti told RAI Sport.

“He will certainly find space in one of the big Italian clubs.”


Mancini defends Pirlo: ‘It’s normal’

Italy CT Roberto Mancini defends Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo after the derby defeat to Inter. ‘It’s normal to have difficulties at the beginning’.

Inter secured a 2-0 win over the Bianconeri on Sunday and currently sit seven points above the Old Lady, who have a game in hand.

Mancini was pleased to see Italy international Nicolò Barella score and said he enjoyed watching ‘a good game’.

“It was a good game, and I was very pleased to see that goal from Barella,” Mancini told La Domenica Sportiva. “It was a good win for Inter, for Juventus these things can happen.

“Even the Bianconeri can occasionally have a bad night.”

He then defended Pirlo, who has been criticised for the slow progress of the Bianconeri.

“At the beginning it’s normal to have some difficulties, even if you played at a very high level,” Mancini continued. “Being a coach is a completely different thing.

“Then, slowly, you’ll learn and get better. Everything is quite normal, even if you are lucky enough to start at the top level.”


Joy for Barella on and off the pitch

Nicolò Barella had a perfect night on and off the pitch, as the midfielder helped Inter beat Juventus at San Siro and then his wife gave birth to Matilde.

The former Cagliari midfielder’s wife Federica Schievenin posted the news on Instagram: “Welcome to our beloved Matilde”.

Barella scored and assisted during the 2-0 win against Juventus in the Derby d’Italia on Sunday, before he became father for the third time.


Inter name change saga takes new twist

According to La Repubblica, Inter’s business name will remain ‘FC Internazionale Milano’, with ‘Inter Milano’ that will only be used to launch the new crest.

La Gazzetta dello Sport and Il Corriere della Sera reported this morning Inter would change their name and their badge in March.

According to La Repubblica, however, the business name won’t be change and will remain “FC Internazionale Milano”.

“Neither the Chinese ownership of Inter, nor the management, has any intention of changing the historical name of the company,” the report reads.

“The club’s name will remain FC Internazionale Milano, this has never been put into question.”

It is confirmed Inter will launch their badge with a “long-planned marketing campaign”, although it may happen later than March. Click here to find out the evolution of the Inter crest over the years.


Liveblog: Serie A Wk18 Super Sunday

Join us for all the build-up and action as it happens from today’s Serie A games, as Napoli face Fiorentina, Atalanta take on Genoa and there’s a huge Derby d’Italia between Inter and Juventus.

If you are on a mobile device or tablet, then follow the Liveblog HERE.

We begin at 11.30 GMT at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, where Jose Callejon returns to face his former teammates for the first time and Napoli try to end their poor recent run of results against Fiorentina.

At 14.00 GMT, Sassuolo and Parma go head-to-head in the Emilia Derby, while Crotone have been on a very different path since promotion to their opponents Benevento.

Atalanta aim to continue their remarkable 2021 at 17.00 GMT against Genoa, who are revitalised under coach Davide Ballardini.

The weekend concludes in style at 19.45 GMT, as San Siro lights up for the Derby d’Italia, a Scudetto showdown, bitter rivalry and star-packed encounter, as the pupil Andrea Pirlo takes on his master Antonio Conte.


HT: Vidal strikes back at Juventus

Arturo Vidal has given Inter the half-time lead against his former teammates, but Lautaro Martinez wasted several chances to further punish Juventus.

Follow all the action as it happens and give your views on the LIVEBLOG.

This wasn’t just a Derby d’Italia, but also a battle to see who would be the main Scudetto contenders to chase down leaders Milan. The Nerazzurri had practically a full squad to choose from, with ex-Juve midfielder Arturo Vidal, but Matthijs de Ligt, Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado had COVID-19 with Paulo Dybala injured. Both teams had to play extra time in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday.

There were fireworks let off outside the stadium by the Curva Nord, Inter ultras, creating quite a lot of smoke in the arena for the first few minutes.

Juve had the first chance, Adrien Rabiot stinging Samir Handanovic’s gloves, but Federico Chiesa was offside when he set up Cristiano Ronaldo to score on the rebound.

However, Inter took the lead when Nicolò Barella’s cross with his left foot sailed over Lautaro Martinez for a Vidal header, getting in front of Danilo from six yards. It was the Chilean’s first Serie A goal for the Nerazzurri and he did it against his former club.

Wojciech Szczesny then flew to palm away a Romelu Lukaku counter, with Lautaro Martinez ballooning the rebound over the bar.

Romelu Lukaku turned Giorgio Chiellini brilliantly, but the veteran got back for a second tackle and Lautaro again fired off target.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a couple of long-range efforts, but the Bianconeri were far too predictable. Instead, Barella was dominant in midfield and set up another big chance that Lukaku scuffed into the arms of Szczesny.

The Juventus goalkeeper had to be at full stretch to punch a cross off Lukaku’s head.

Inter 1-0 Juventus (Half-Time)

Vidal 12 (I)

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

Juventus: Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Frabotta; Chiesa, Rabiot, Bentancur, Ramsey; Morata, Ronaldo

Ref: Doveri


Video: did Vidal kiss the Juve badge?

Inter fans are furious with Arturo Vidal as the Chilean midfielder seems to have kissed the Juventus badge ahead of Inter-Juventus.

The Bianconeri and the Nerazzurri meet at the Stadio Meazza in a key Serie A clash on Sunday.

You can follow the game as it happens on the LIVEBLOG.

Vidal spent four seasons in Turin, winning just as many Scudetto titles.

He then moved to Bayern Munich and Barcelona before joining Inter as a free agent last summer.

Prior to this evening’s clash against Juventus, Vidal seemed to have kissed the Juventus badge while greeting Giorgio Chiellini on the pitch.

Vidal may have only kissed the chest of his former teammate, but many Inter fans on social media are already complaining about their midfielder’s behaviour.

The 33-year-old made up for it scoring the opener after 10 minutes in the first half, but failed to celebrate.


Inter Hakimi payment mystery explained

La Repubblica claim Inter have agreed with Real Madrid to delay the first payment for Achraf Hakimi by three months.

The Nerazzurri signed the wing-back for €40m to be paid in a series of €10m instalments.

The first was expected in December, but reports in Spain pointed out the money had not been handed over on time.

However, La Repubblica newspaper published a copy of an agreement Real Madrid signed with Inter a few weeks ago, which allows them to delay the €10m payment from December 2020 to the end of March 2021.

Inter are having serious financial problems at the moment following the effects of the pandemic and Chinese blocks on their companies investing in foreign football clubs.

They are also negotiating with players to delay the payment of their salaries in order to find liquidity.

Suning are currently in talks with investment fund BC Partners to sell up to 40 per cent of the club’s shares.