Napoli docked two points, players banned

18 December 2012 10:59

Napoli have copped a two-point penalty as part of the match-fixing investigations, while two players have been banned for six months.

The penalties derived from a Serie A match against Sampdoria in 2010, which former Napoli goalkeeper Matteo Gianello has confessed he tried to fix leading to a suspension of 39 months.

The Italian Football Federation’s (FIGC) disciplinary commission confirmed on Tuesday they have suspended Paolo Cannavaro, the younger brother of former Real Madrid defender Fabio, and Gianluca Grava from playing for six months for failing to report Gianello’s plans.

The FIGC have punished Napoli for being ‘objectively responsible’ due to Gianello playing with the club at the time.

The FIGC determined Cannavaro and Grava were approached by Gianello to help fix the game and despite refusing to be involved, the two defenders failed to report the incident.

Both Cannavaro and Grava have denied they knew anything and will appeal their penalties, as will Napoli.

Sampdoria won the game 1-0, which was in Serie A’s final round of the 2009/10 campaign, claiming a spot in the following season’s UEFA Champions League.

Napoli have dropped to two spots to fifth on the Serie A table with 31 points for the season, 10 behind leaders Juventus.

Lampard eyes return to winning ways

18 December 2012 10:35

Frank Lampard has called on Chelsea to pull off an undefeated run over the busy festive period in order to save their season.

The Blues returned to England empty-handed after their Club World Cup exploits, losing 1-0 to Corinthians in Sunday’s final, to find themselves 13 points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester United.

But, vice-captain Lampard has issued a rallying call to his exhausted team-mates in an attempt to lift them ahead of the last-16 Capital One Cup clash against Leeds at Elland Road.

“We have to pick it up for Leeds and then get our form back at home,” Lampard told The Sun.

“We got a result against Sunderland before we went out to Japan and it’s very important that we do our stuff, not just with Leeds but the Premier League games over Christmas.

“If we win at Leeds we’ll be in the semi-final and with the possibility of a decent draw, but we’ve got to win the games. It’s tough to go to Elland Road. There’s a rivalry.

“We’re aware of it and we have to play with passion and do the physical side of things because they’re going to be right at it.

“We can’t expect to go up there and tap it around and get a result. We have to do both sides.”

Chelsea and Leeds share a chequered history dating back to the 1970s, and Juan Mata revealed that Lampard has warned his team-mates that Neil Warnock’s side will be no easy pushovers.

“We know the history of Chelsea and Leeds,” Mata added.

“They are always difficult games, competitive between supporters. Lampard told me about the rivalry. He told me it started in the 70s.”

Puyol talks up Busquets

18 December 2012 10:24

Carles Puyol believes his Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets is the best midfielder in the world.

Busquets capped off a fine performance in the Catalans’ 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid with a strike of his own at the weekend, which has led Puyol to laud the holding midfielder’s importance to the side.

“Busquets is the best midfielder in the world. He’s a vital part of our team,” Puyol was quoted as saying on the official Barcelona website.

“He might not always seem that way, but he really is very important. He’s very intelligent both in attack and in defence.”

The Spain international has made 21 official appearances for Barcelona so far this term, netting once in the process.

PSG confirm interest in Mourinho, Ronaldo

18 December 2012 10:11

Sheikh Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has revealed PSG are interested in luring Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho away from Real Madrid.

President Nasser Al-Khelaifi had previously denied reports that the Ligue 1 giants are interested in signing the Madrid coach and the Portugal international, but his right-hand man has now admitted that the Parisians would like to sign the duo.

“Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho are objectives for Paris Saint-Germain, of course,” Al-Thani told Canal Football.

“PSG are one of the best clubs in the world. Ever since day one, our goal has been to win the Champions League.

“We are already one of the best teams in France, and it’s our goal to become one of the best in Europe and the world, too.”

PSG climbed to joint first in the table at the weekend following their 1-0 win over Olympique Lyonnais.

AC Milan ponder De Rossi swoop

18 December 2012 10:20

Daniele De Rossi could be on his way out of Roma in January as AC Milan are considering making a move according to Goal.com.

Silvio Berlusconi recently indicated that Milan’s new policy on transfers is to focus on promising youngsters, while aiming to make one marquee signing per season too, and they are keen to make De Rossi their big-name arrival this winter.

The 29-year-old signed a new five-year deal with Roma in February 2012, but the Giallorossi have since admitted that they could cash in on the midfielder if a good offer comes in.

Milan have already been in contact with De Rossi to discuss a potential transfer, but the San Siro side realise that it will not be easy to get their man.

The Rossoneri are pondering a 15 million Euros offer, while also including defenders Francesco Acerbi and Ignazio Abate in the deal.

Even if Milan agree terms with Roma, a transfer is by no means a certainty just yet, though, as De Rossi’s heavy wage demands could prove to be an obstacle for the 2011 Serie A champions.

Meanwhile, Milan also remain interested in signing Mario Balotelli as the striker’s situation at Manchester City is getting more complicated after he took his club to a Premier League tribunal following their decision to fine him two weeks’ wages for his poor disciplinary record in the 2011-12 season.

Furthermore, the Rossoneri are also keeping tabs on Kevin Strootman, Angelo Ogbonna and Marco Verratti as long-term reinforcements.