Tag Archives: Italy

Buffon hits out at critics as veteran returns to international squad

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Gianluigi Buffon has hit out at his critics as he arrived in England to add to his 175 record cap tally with Italy.

Buffon, 40, had previously announced his retirement from international football after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup last November but later reversed his decision, and was retained as captain by the caretaker coach Luigi Di Biagio who will lead the side out in friendlies against Argentina in Manchester on Friday and England at Wembley next Tuesday.

The Juventus keeper’s decision has attracted some criticism but the Juventus No 1 insists he is still the best man for the job, saying: “I’ve nothing to add to what has been said. Everyone knows the truth. My role in the squad has always been positive and I’ve always brought people together. I’ve always put us before me.”

“I’m not here to showcase, to show myself off. I can still be useful. I might be 40 but I’m the goalkeeper of Juventus. Italy is a funny country where people enjoy controversy but any controversy about me is just sensationalism. After a while all this controversy will just fall away.”

Buffon had also previously hinted that this season could be his last but he does not appear to have any retirement plans yet.

Speaking at a press conference at the Etihad Stadium, Buffon added: “I don’t know if my last match will be with Juventus or an international but it will be low key and sober, normal. I arrived at my first game on a scooter and the only car I have is the one that Juventus make available for me.”

Di Biagio, who has stepped up from duties with the Under-21 side, hopes the four friendlies in the remainder of the season can help Italy move on from their World Cup nightmare. Russia 2018 will be the first finals to take place without four-time world champions Italy for 60 years.

The games also provide a chance for Di Biagio to stake a claim for the job full-time but he insists that is not his focus. “Everything around the team has changed. We need a new start,” he said.

“We have a small world championship in these four matches. It is a chance to test new players. We need patience and consistency, regardless of who is going to be in the driving seat.”

Former Milan coach Vincenzo Montella set to take reins at Sevilla

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Former Milan coach Vincenzo Montella is set to take charge of Sevilla after reaching an agreement with the La Liga club on Thursday.

Sevilla has officially announced that Montella, 43, would travel to Spain as soon as he had terminated his contract with Milan, where he was fired as coach at the end of last month.

“Sevilla FC and the Italian coach Vincenzo Montella have reached an agreement for him to become coach of the first team until June 2019,” the La Liga giants said in a statement.

Montella will be replacing Eduardo Berizzo — who was sacked last Friday following a run of poor results — only a week after returning to work following an operation to treat prostate cancer.

Berizzo was sacked despite Sevilla currently standing at a respectable fifth place in the table and having qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, after the Argentinian replaced his compatriot Jorge Sampaoli, who left after the end of last season to take charge of their country’s national team.

“Sevilla FC would like to express its gratitude to Berizzo for his professionalism, the work he has delivered and his treatment of all the members of the club since his arrival,” Sevilla said in the statement announcing the dismissal.

As a player, Montella played as a former striker for Genoa, Sampdoria and Roma while making 20 international appearances for Italy. His coaching career has included three seasons with Fiorentina, finishing fourth in Serie A in each, one with Sampdoria and one and a half with Milan.

Once he takes charge at Sevilla, Montella will be the only Italian coach in La Liga after Gianni De Biasi having been fired by Alaves at the end of November.

Juventus suffer shock defeat at Sampdoria after resting Buffon

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Juventus fell to a surprise 3-2 defeat at Sampdoria on Sunday while Internazionale after 13 matches in Serie A after losing against Sassuolo in stoppage time.

Juventus, the defending Serie A champions were resting key players in Andrea Barzagli and Gianluigi Buffon, who were both allowed time to rest from the disappointment of Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup on the bench.

The Turin team also had great chances early on with Gonzalo Higuain having a shot deflected wide and Mario Mandzukic and Juan Cuadrado both forcing saves following Higuain passes.

Duvan Zapata, Lucas Torreira and Gian Marco Ferrari put Sampdoria 3-0 up in the second half before Juventus threatened with an astonishing stoppage-time comeback with a penalty from Higuain and a strike from Paulo Dybala.

Zapata’s opener came after a Federico Bernardeschi mistake, with Torreira then firing home their second from 18 yards and Ferrari tapping into an empty net.

Juve, who take on FC Barcelona in the Champions League this week, are now four points behind leaders Napoli, who beat AC Milan 2-1 on Saturday. Inter Milan was able to leapfrog them with a solid 2-0 win over Atalanta later on Sunday.

Sampdoria, meanwhile, moved five points behind Juventus with a game in hand on most other teams.

Inter Captain Mauro Icardi opened the scoring six minutes into the second half at the San Siro when he powerfully met Antonio Candreva’s right-wing free kick.

Icardi went on to claim his 13th goal of the season nine minutes later with another header, stooping to nod Danilo D’Ambrosio’s in-swinging centre into the bottom left corner as Inter made it 13 games without defeat this season.

Italy sack Gian Piero Ventura after World Cup qualification failure

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The Italian Football Federation has sacked national coach Gian Piero Ventura as manager after the Azzurri suffered a 1-0 aggregate defeat by Sweden in the World Cup qualification play-offs that denied the national team a place in the tournament for the first time in 60 years.

In a statement on Wednesday night the Italian federation announced that the Ventura’s 16-month reign was over.

“At the meeting convened by the chairman, Carlo Tavecchio, which was attended by the presidents of the federal members a discussion was had following the failure of the national team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup,” the statement read. “As a first point on the agenda, Tavecchio communicated a decision of the technical guidance committee, and to date, Gian Piero Ventura is no longer the national team head coach.”

The decision was taken after a heating meeting in which the Footballers’ Association president, Damiano Tommasi, walked out shortly after asking Tavecchio if he intended to resign, which the latter refused.

Despite his monumental failure, Ventura said his record was “one of the best of the last 40 years”.

“I lost only two games in two years,” he added in an interview with Italian television show Le Iene before the Italian Football Federation fired him on Wednesday.

Ventura replaced Antonio Conte as the head coach for Italy in June 2016, and was described then as a “master of football” by Carlo Tavecchio. However, Italy took one point out of a possible six against Spain in qualifying and also drew at home to Macedonia.

A decision is yet to be taken on who will succeed him, with Tavecchio telling reporters after the meeting that the federation have been “thinking of important names” to replace Ventura.