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Serie A

5 talking points as Napoli seal win in Coppa Italia semifinals first-leg against Inter Milan



Coppa Italia is the biggest cup competition in Italy which is now edging towards the final stages. In the first leg of the first semi-final of the mega-event, it was a rather surprising result where Napoli got the better of favourites Inter Milan with a 1-0 scoreline, that too while playing at the San Siro.

Here we are bringing you five talking points which we gathered from an intense battle where it was the home side who were on the receiving end.

Fabian Ruiz—the special one

Fabian Ruiz is a special player who has many admirers in the world of football and on Wednesday, he just reminded everyone of his qualities once again. The Spain international scored a winner in the 57th minute out of nothing, that too with a strike with his weakest left-foot which ended in the top corner and gave Inter’s goalkeeper Daniele Padelli absolutely no chance. That individual display of brilliance is a testament that the 23-year-old is amongst the best young midfielders in the world and there should be no surprise to see the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester City making a move for the former Real Betis midfielder in the upcoming transfer window.

Inter’s big night syndrome

Another big night, another failure for Inter is the story which should concern manager Antonio Conte going in the final part of the season. The Milan-based club suffered another heartbreaking defeat on their home ground—just like they did in the match against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. That night, Inter just needed to match Borussia Dortmund’s result against a weakened Barcelona side but they couldn’t and on Wednesday, the Milan-based outfit followed the same pattern once again as they lost against a team while playing at home who were coming in the match on the back of suffering a home defeat against Lecce which was their fifth in last 10 matches.

Lifeline for Gennaro Gattuso

Gennaro Gattuso’s career with Napoli started on a very uneasy note and it will be an understatement to say that if there was one man who wanted a win on Wednesday at any cost, it was surely him. Ever since taking charge of the Naples-based club on December 11 in place of Carlo Ancelotti, Gattuso’s men suffered five defeats in just 10 outings before yesterday’s win—a record which is surely not good enough to keep the job at a big club like Napoli. However, an away win against a team who is competing for the league title can very well prove to be a lifeline the 42-year-old was looking for as he is already fighting to keep his new job just months after starting it.

Serie A or nothing for Inter

When the season started, Inter’s manager Conte—just like any other manager—had the vision to have a longer run in the Champions League and compete for the league title. Coming to the very end of the season, it seems like it is either Serie A or nothing for the Milan-based outfit, especially after suffering defeat in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals on Wednesday. Even though the Nerazzurri are still present in the UEFA Europa League but it was reported in the Italian media that the club are not eager to go all the way in the second-tier club competition in Europe as their priority is now more focused towards other projects. Therefore, going into the last 15 matchdays in the Serie A, there will be extreme pressure on Conte and his men as they just cannot afford to falter on another front.

There is life without Koulibaly for Napoli

Kalidou Koulibaly is perhaps the most famous Napoli player from the current squad and for many, he is simply irreplaceable at the club. However, on Wednesday, Napoli produced a pretty decent defensive performance in the match against Inter without the Senegal international and managed to keep a clean sheet. There were reports in the media recently that Napoli are looking to sell the 28-year-old in the summer and the performance in the Coppa Italia semifinals will give some hope for the Napoli fans that there can be a decent life after the departure of their prized asset.

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Serie A

Real Madrid, Inter Milan to compete for signing of Serie A star in summer transfer window



Spanish La Liga giants Real Madrid will compete with the Italian Serie A outfit Inter Milan for the signing of Napoli’s star midfielder Fabian Ruiz in the summer transfer window. The Spain international has been a real sensation ever since joining the Naples-based outfit and has been attracting interest from a number of top clubs in Europe.

Both Real and City have been in the market to sign players in order to strengthen their squad for future campaigns.

Therefore, as per Daily Express, Real and City are ready to compete in the transfer market as well where they are both making a move to sign Ruiz in the summer transfer window.

However, it will be interesting to see if either club will be able to convince Napoli’s hierarchy in selling their prized asset in the upcoming transfer window.

Ruiz has been with Napoli since the summer of 2018 when he moved from Spanish La Liga club Real Betis for a reported transfer fee of €30 million.

Since then, the versatile midfielder has represented his current club in 70 matches in all competitions where he has managed to score 10 times and provided five assists as well.

In the ongoing campaign, the 23-year-old has three goals and two assists to his name in 30 appearances for Napoli in all competitions.

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Serie A

Chelsea eye move for PSG star in the summer transfer window, Inter Milan, Mauro Icardi



English Premier League club Chelsea are eyeing a move for French Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint Germain (PSG)’s on-loan star striker Mauro Icadi in the summer transfer window. The Argentina international is currently spending a season-long loan with the Paris-based club who also have an option to make the deal permanent by paying €70 million.

In the recent past, reports have circulated in the Italian and French media which suggested that PSG are not looking to make Icardi’s move permanent and he is likely to return to San Siro after the end of the ongoing campaign.

Therefore, as per FC Inter News, Chelsea are ready to take advantage of the situation and sign Icardi in the summer transfer window in order to bolster their attacking unit for the future campaigns.

Chelsea have been in the market for quite some time in order to enhance the competition in the attacking department where there is too much reliance on young striker Tammy Abraham.

That is not the only problem Blues are facing in the competition as two other strikers, Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud are likely to leave the club in the summer as well.

In the ongoing campaign, Icardi has represented his current club in 28 matches in all competitions where he has managed to score 19 times and provided four assists.

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Serie A

Juventus vs Inter in doubt with Italian PM considering postponing Week 26 Serie A fixtures due to coronavirus



Upcoming fixtures across Italy’s leagues are in doubt, with Serie A leaders Juventus scheduled to host Inter in Turin on March 1.

Italy prime minister Giuseppe Conte revealed all of Serie A’s Week 26 fixtures, including the blockbuster showdown between Juventus and Inter, could be postponed due to coronavirus fears.

The outbreak of coronavirus in Italy forced four top-flight matches to be postponed over the weekend, including Sunday’s clash between Scudetto hopefuls Inter and Sampdoria.

Italy’s move came as part of preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19 which originated in China, after two people died and dozens more reportedly tested positive.

Now, upcoming fixtures across Italy’s leagues are in doubt, with Serie A leaders Juve scheduled to host Inter in Turin on March 1.

“I don’t think that in just one week we’d be able to slow down the contagion so much that we could resume sporting events,” Conte told Rai.

“We are constantly monitoring the situation and will evaluate. We’ll see the evolution of the contagion and evaluate postponing all next week’s matches.”

Juve are a point clear atop the table following Saturday’s 2-1 victory away at bottom side SPAL.

Cristiano Ronaldo marked his 1,000th career appearance with a goal, scoring in an 11th consecutive top-flight match – matching a feat previously achieved by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.

In-form Lazio were also in action on Saturday and edged Genoa 3-2 to extend their unbeaten streak to 20 games, while Inter are six points off the pace with a game in hand.

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