Mazzarri worried by Parma clash

16 September 2012 03:13

Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri says the home match against Parma will be difficult given a lack of preparation after the international break.

The two-time Serie A champions have won their first two games, including a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina prior to the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

But Mazzarri was quick to lament the side’s lack of preparation time compared to their opponents.

“It will not be easy, as I have only had the whole squad available since yesterday while Parma have had 15 days to prepare for the tie,” the Italian said.

Napoli’s preparation is not the only cause of concern with Miguel Britos out of action.

The key defender is sidelined with a muscular injury and Mazzarri is feeling uneasy about the Uruguayan’s absence.

“I am very concerned that there is no Britos. This is my real problem for tomorrow,” he said.

“Last year he suffered with a lot of problems of a physical nature, so we waited, he recovered and now he is back to top form.

“It’s a shame, because he’s important to us in the air and in set-pieces.”

However, Napoli will see the return from suspension of Goran Pandev, who is expected to lead the line alongside Edison Cavani against Parma.

“Pandev has proved from the first game this season that he is a major player,” Mazzarri said.

The manager is on the eve of his 300th game in charge and Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis spoke glowingly about the future when speaking to reporters.

“My hope is that he can be manager for 1000 games, and maybe all of them with me,” he said.

Brazil Serie A wrap: Atletico stun leaders Fluminense

16 September 2012 03:05

League leaders Fluminense suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at home to cellar-dwellers Atletico GO, while Sao Paulo returned to the winners’ list.

Fluminense went into Saturday’s match with a two-point advantage ahead of Atletico Mineiro on the Brazil Serie A table but the second-placed outfit could jump into top position with two games in hand.

The hosts were without key trio Fred, Deco and Wager and it showed as Abel Braga’s side suffered their first loss in 12 league fixtures.

Defender Diego Giaretta opened the scoring for Atletico GO in the 18th minute before Renie doubled the visitors’ lead with half-time fast approaching.

Substitute Michael pulled a goal back for Fluminense just past the hour mark but it proved nothing more than a consolation.

Despite claiming their first win since August 20, Atletico GO remains at the foot of the table on 20 points, seven adrift of safety.

Meanwhile, Sao Paulo ended a four-game winless run with a 3-1 victory over Portuguesa.

Paris Saint Germain-bound midfielder Lucas Moura played an influential role in the triumph, setting up two goals in the second half.

Osvaldo broke the deadlock for the hosts inside six minutes but Portuguesa’s Bruno Mineiro levelled proceedings on 37 minutes.

However, Sao Paulo defender Cortez restored their lead on 57 minutes before ex-Sevilla striker Luis Fabiano, who has been named in Brazil’s squad to face Argentina on September 19, capped his national team recall with a 78th-minute strike to seal the win.

Vilanova hails Fabregas influence

16 September 2012 02:58

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has praised the role midfield lynchpin Cesc Fabregas played in his side’s 4-1 demolition of Getafe.

The 25-year-old has reportedly has been at odds over his stance regarding remarks made towards the tactics employed by former boss Pep Guardiola, with sources claiming an exit from Camp Nou was a possibility.

Based on the playmaker’s recent efforts, however, everything is well with the former Arsenal star after his displays in the centre wore his opponents thin, according to his coach.

“We came out very well from the beginning, and controlled the game at all times. We might even have scored one more,” Vilanova said.

“Fabregas showed great gusto and played very well.

“It’s really not surprising though, given how well he has trained recently. He enjoyed a really great match alongside Xavi.”

David Villa, who came off the bench to score, lent his voice in unison to his coach.

“Fabregas was euphoric after the game. I suppose that’s why he had that grin on his face,” the Spain international told Radio Catalunya.

Gerard Pique told Canal Plus: “We have a very versatile tactical set-up, with players who can feature in many positions. We may employ different schemes, but always with the same philosophy, to dominate.”

The latest La Liga success ensures Barcelona head off to begin their Champions League campaign on the right note.

“We face the Champions League with high hopes and eagerness. We’ll be leaving for Russia with the intention to win,” veteran midfielder Xavi said.

Puyol’s injury proved to be the only sour note on the night, with the Barcelona captain joining a lengthy injury list including Andres Iniesta, Alexis Sanchez and Jordi Alba.

“We’ll see how bad it is when we conduct more tests tomorrow,” Vilanova added. “He is an important player, and hope he can be back soon.”

The 34-year-old is believed to have strained knee ligaments with an initial prognosis suggesting the recovery could be as long as six weeks.

Stramaccioni wants consistency from Inter

16 September 2012 02:47

Inter Milan manager Andrea Stramaccioni believes his side need to redeem themselves in their match against Torino on Sunday.

Inter have had an inconsistent start to the Serie A season, losing 3-1 to Roma at home in their last match after opening their campaign with a 3-0 win at newly promoted Pescara.

Stramaccioni’s men have also endured mix fortunes in the Europa League, taking a win, a loss and a draw from their opening three matches.

And Stramaccioni, who was initially named caretaker coach following Claudio Ranieri’s sacking in March, is calling for an improvement.

“I believe the most disappointing result has been last Sunday’s result (against Roma),” the 36-year-old said.

“In the other matches we haven’t won, but have made a better performance. The common denominator is that all three matches have started with difficulties: both against Roma and Hajduk we have conceded a goal almost at the beginning of the match.

“And in the match against Vaslui there has been the episode of the penalty kick and the sending off, and this has surely had an impact on the match.

“In any case we are aware that we should make a better performance and we want to redeem ourselves in front of our supporters.”

The former youth team coach pinpointed the players’ lacklustre performances for their recent results.

“When playing at high levels we can’t concede goals due to inattention, such as the second goal in the match against Roma,” Stramaccioni said.

“This is something we should improve. One thing for which I got really angry and which I don’t want to see anymore is that Inter Milan hasn’t reacted when the result was 2-1. This has never happened.

“It was the first time that I saw the team suffering from the blow from a psychological point of view. This is something that a big team, such as our team, can’t do.”

Inter Milan face Torino at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday and Stramaccioni is expecting a difficult encounter.

“I believe that Torino and Roma have a common denominator: their managers have a deep impact on the teams,” he said.

“Torino is very precise and we have great respect of this team.

“Of course we’ll go to Turin with the aim of winning, as we’ve have done in all matches we have played.”

Allegri unfazed by Milan form slump

16 September 2012 02:31

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has shrugged off criticism in the wake of overseeing the club’s worst home start to the season since 1930.

Milan fell 1-0 to Atalanta in Serie A on Saturday thanks to Luca Cigarini’s goal, leaving Allegri with the unenviable record of having only collected three points from as many fixtures.

Speculation continues to mount over the security of his position as coach, but Allegri claims fans need to be patient.

“We only had one more point at this stage last season,” argued the 45-year-old. “The team has certainly changed a great deal.

“I admit to being a little bit worried, because it’s not good enough to be playing like this. We need to be more positive and carefree. The lads have to grow up and realise playing with nervousness will not allow us to progress.

“We definitely have to get back on track, but more on a psychological level rather than a technical one. There are some young lads here and they need to grow up quickly.”

The last time Milan slumped to consecutive defeats at home in opening fixtures occurred over 80 years ago, with the consecutive San Siro losses to Sampdoria and Stefano Colantuono’s Orobici condemning their only win of the season, against Bologna, to distant memory.

Allegri’s men will have the opportunity to redeem themselves on Tuesday, when they host Anderlecht in Champions League action.