Tag Archives: napoli

Barcelona 3-1 Napoli; (4-2 agg) Napoli defeated at Camp nou

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Barcelona are through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League after beating Napoli 3-1 at the Camp Nou.

Goals from Clement Lenglet, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez sealed the win for Quique Setien’s side, with Lorenzo Insigne scoring from the spot for the visitors.

2019/2020 UEFA Champions League
3-1
Lenglet (10′)
Messi (23′)
Suarez (45’+1′ PEN)
Insigne (45’+5′ PEN)


Match Events


3′ CLOSE! Mertens hits the post

4′ Rui’s Iob shot wide out

10′ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Napoli (Lenglet)

15′ Rakitic’s long shot wide out

23′ GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Napoli (Messi)

30′ Handball! messi’s goal disallowed

46′ Penalty Goal! Barcelona 3-0 Napoli (Suarez)

50′ Penalty Goal! Barcelona 3-1 Napoli (Insigne)

52′ Insigne’s header too straight

71′ Lozano’s header over the bar

81′ OFFSIDE! Milik’s goal disallowed

85′ Lozano hits the post

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Line-ups
Barcelona XI: Messi, Suarez, Pique, Rakitic, Alba, Griezmann, Ter Stegen, Roberto, Lenglet, Semedo, De Jong

Subs: Neto, Firpo, Pena, R. Araújo, Jandro Orellana, L. Reis, Monchu, Riqui Puig, Óscar Mingueza, K. De La Fuente, Fati

Napoli XI: Ospina, Mertens, Callejon, Manolas, Insigne, Mario Rui, Koulibaly, Demme, Zielinski, Di Lorenzo, Fabian Ruiz

Subs: Llorente, Karnezis, Maksimovic, Allan, Hysaj, Milik, Lobotka, Politano, Luperto, Meret, Lozano, Elmas.

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Barcelona Vs Napoli lineups confirmed

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Barcelona vs Napoli LINE-UPS: Messi, Griez & Suarez start together at Camp Nou for the important 2nd leg.

Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, De Jong, Sergi Roberto; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann

Subs: Neto, Inaki Pena, Junior Firpo, Ricard Puig, Fati, Ronald Araujo, Monchu, Mingueza, De La Fuente, Reis, Orellana

Napoli XI: Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Demme, Fabian Ruiz, Zielinski; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne.

Subs: Meret, Karnezis, Allan, Llorente, Lozano, Elmas, Luperto, Maksimovic, Politano, Hysaj, Lobotka, Milik.

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To secure Barca stay, Setien needs to defeat Napoli


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To secure Barca stay, Setien needs to defeat Napoli

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It’s been 13 years since Barcelona failed to reach the Champions League quarter-finals. The last time it happened the coach survived. The same thing is unlikely to happen if they are knocked out by Napoli on Saturday night.

Frank Rijkaard’s team was eliminated at the last-16 stage by Liverpool in 2007 but the Dutch coach had delivered the league and Champions League in 2006 and kept his job for one more season. Quique Setien has no credit in the bank and will depart if Barca fail to get past Napoli.

He knows it, although he smiled at the question in Friday’s press conference saying: ‘I knew you were going to ask me that one. At no time has the thought entered my mind that this will be my last game.’

Sergio Busquets was slightly more vague when he said: ‘It’s not a decision the players will take. We have to concentrate on what happens on the pitch and if Setien continues then that is a good sign for everyone because it will mean we have done well and, why not, even have won the tournament.’

There is money at stake too, lots of it, and at a time when Barcelona need every financial injection they can get.

Based on last year’s payments the difference between winning the final and getting knocked out at the round of 16 stage can be as much as 43m (£38.9m) euros. There was a 10.5m (£9.4m) euros prize for reaching last season’s quarter-finals, 12m (£10.8m) for reaching the semis, 15m (£13.5m) for reaching the final, 4m (£3.6m) for winning it, and a further 3.5m (£3.1m) for competing in the subsequent European Super Cup.

Avoiding the soap opera of looking for the club’s second new coach inside nine months, and missing out on the kind of money that would enable them to buy half of Lautaro Martinez (it’s a start) makes this the biggest game the club has faced for a long time.

They don’t usually fail at home in this competition – they are on a run of 35 games at the Nou Camp without losing. Not since they were beaten 3-0 by Bayern Munich in 2013 have they lost at home in Europe. But there will be no supporters in the Catalan cathedral of football this time and that is not the only thing making them slightly nervous.

Barcelona’s midfield is three men down. Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets are suspended and Arthur Melo, sold to Juventus although still available for Barcelona, will take no part.

Setien will have to patch together a midfield made up of Frenkie De Jong, Ivan Rakitic and 20-year-old Riqui Puig.

That will put the emphasis more than ever on the forward line. Lionel Messi tends to score in the round of 16. He has 19 goals in 14 games and as ever Barcelona will need him to be at his best.

This will be his 142nd game in the competition taking him past Ryan Giggs and level with Raul. He still has three players in front of him but Xavi (151), Cristiano Ronaldo (169) and Iker Casillas (177) are all in his sights.

This is the competition that for two seasons now he has pinpointed as the priority. Barcelona need him to be at his best and for Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann to be 100 per cent alongside him.

Griezmann, whose first leg away goal gives Barcelona the slight edge, knows a big performance will also save his own first campaign at the club.

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He has endured a tough first year with criticism that he has not repaid the 120 million euros (£108m) spent on him last summer. Much of that criticism has been harsh. His goal against Napoli in February was one of 15 he managed in his first campaign and not only does that tally match Neymar’s in his first season at the club but it also leaves Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard in the shade. The forward, signed from Chelsea last summer, has only scored once.

Griezmann may not have hit the heights he reached at Atletico Madrid where he scored 21 goals in his last season under Diego Simeone, 29, 26 and 32 in the three previous campaigns, but he has scored important goals. One on Saturday night would be another in an awkward first season marred by the struggle to get on Messi’s wavelength.

Griezmann’s team-mate Suarez, with whom the Frenchman has developed a friendship off the pitch to the point where Suarez published on social media: ‘Always positive and always looking forward’, in support of Griezmann, will also be a crucial cog.

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Suarez rushed back from knee surgery to compete in the run-in. He hobbled off into a mini-break as soon as Real Madrid were crowned champions. Now the test will be to see if he comes back at his best.

If he doesn’t then with Martin Braithwaite unavailable having only been registered for La Liga it will be the 17-year-old striker Ansu Fati who Setien has to turn to.

Whether it’s the youngest Champions League goalscorer in the competition’s history (17 years and 10 days when he scored against Inter in December), the old fox Suarez, the eternally questioned Griezmann, or Mr. Reliable Messi, coach Setien will not care.

He just needs his team to get over the line (having drawn the first leg 1-1) and into the final eight in Lisbon so he can prolong his spell in charge of Barcelona and keep alive the club’s hopes of boosting the finances and saving the season.

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Who will score the first goal in today’s Barca Napoli clash

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Barcelona will face Napoli in a few hours. Which striker will score the first goal in this clash?

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‘Barca should be focused, Napoli isn’t a Joke’ – Lenglet

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Clement Lenglet has made clear that Barcelona will have to be at their best if they are to advance to the final phase of the Champions League in Lisbon.

Barcelona will take on Napoli on August 8 at the Camp Nou, with the first leg in Italy having been a 1-1 draw.

“It’s about advancing against Napoli, who are a tough team,” Lenglet told Barcelona’s club media.

“In the first leg we drew 1-1 and it’s only a small advantage [with the away goal], but I really think that we will play a great game in Barcelona to reach the next round and get a good result that will allow us to travel to Lisbon.

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“The first thing we have to do is be extremely focused, perform well and try to win to get into the last eight in Lisbon.

“Then we will have to compete 100 percent to get as far as possible in the competition.”

Dries Mertens scored Napoli’s goal in the first leg and caused problems for the Barcelona defenders, with the Frenchman recognising the Belgian’s quality.

“He’s very fast in the first three metres, can move around well and likes to run behind defenders and is lethal near goal,” Lenglet said.

“He scored a good goal in the first leg.”

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Just in time, Griezmann and Lenglet set for Napoli’s Clash

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Just in time, Clement Lenglet and Antoine Griezmann are back in action and could be fit to face Napoli on Saturday at the Camp Nou.

The two Frenchmen missed the end of the LaLiga Santander campaign due to injury, but they have now recovered and are only waiting for the medical green light, which they should receive in the next few days.

It comes at the perfect time as the Barcelona squad has taken advantage of the break to recover and rest after fatigue began to become noticeable due to the intense fixture list at the end of the domestic season.

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Following a week off and a few recovery sessions, Barcelona will have a real boost to have these two key men available for selection.

Lenglet’s return is particularly important for Quique Setien, who does not have either Samuel Umtiti or Ronald Araujo available due to injuries of their own.

Gerard Pique has played alongside Lenglet more than any other player this season as he has become a regular in defence, and a contract extension is already being considered for the Frenchman.

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Griezmann’s role


It’s a different situation for Griezmann as the former Atletico Madrid forward was just finding form when he picked up the injury, with Setien replacing him with Ansu Fati.

The youngster didn’t waste his opportunity and proved what he is capable of, which gives Setien a selection headache ahead of the tie.

Whatever he chooses, it’s sure that Setien will be criticised as he remains under the microscope with his future heavily dependent upon performances in Europe.

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Napoli might be in Danger as Griezmann and Dembele returns

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Barcelona have been handed an injury boost ahead of their Champions League clash with Napoli as Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele returned to training.

Dembele underwent surgery on his hamstring in February and has not played a competitive game since November while Griezmann missed the end of the LaLiga season with a thigh problem.

But both players completed a full session with the rest of their team-mates after having to train separately due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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Super eagle’s Osimhen signs contract with Napoli

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Italian side, Napoli have signed Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen, the club confirmed in a statement on Friday.

“Welcome to Napoli, Victor, ” the club said on their Twitter handle while confirming the arrival of the Nigerian from French side, Lille.

“Can’t wait to put on this iconic jersey, thank you for the warm welcome @sscnapoli #forzanapolisempre,” the player tweeted following the confirmation of his switch.

Although no official fee was announced for the signing of the 21-year-old striker, several sources claim the deal is worth over $96 million (81.3m Euros) which makes the forward the most expensive African player of all time.

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Osimhen’s move to the Gli Azzurri trumps the prize Arsenal paid for Ivory Coast forward, Nicolas Pepe last year.

Last term, the former Charleroi (from where he moved to France) man scored 18 goals in all games for Lille and has been linked with a move to Naples in recent times.

His stellar showing for the French side saw him winning the Lille Player of the Season just as he made it to Ligue 1’s team for the 2019/2020 campaign.

The Edo-born footballer came into limelight after he helped the Nigerian U-17 team win the 2015 World Cup in Chile, scooping the Golden Boot and Silver Ball awards.

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During the competition, he struck 10 times after which he bagged Africa’s Youth Player of the Year for 2015.

He immediately joined German side, Wolfsburg following his exploits in the cadet competition, turning down Arsenal of England.

Thereafter, he teamed up with Charleroi in Belgium, initially on loan, after a barren spell with the Bundesliga outfit.

Since his debut for the senior national team in June 2017, he has played 10 matches and bagged four goals.


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Scared of Camp nou? Napoli owner wants UCL return game not to be played at Camp nou

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Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said on Thursday that the Italian club’s Champions League last 16, second leg game against Barcelona should be moved from Spain where there is a new wave of coronavirus cases.

“I hear a lot of perplexity and fear coming from Spain and they acting as if nothing is wrong. What does it take to say, ‘Don’t go to Barcelona but rather go to Portugal, Germany or Geneva’?” De Laurentiis told journalists.

Barcelona are due to host Napoli on 8 August in the Camp Nou with both sides 1-1 after the first leg in Naples in February, with the winner going on to the quarterfinals in Lisbon, Portugal.

“It they have decided that the Champions League is in Portugal and the Europa League in Germany, I think we can go to Portugal or Germany for the round of 16, I don’t understand why we should stay in a city that presents major problems.”

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Final score: Inter 2-0 Napoli


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Final score: Inter 2-0 Napoli

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Goalscorers

D’Ambrosio11

Martinez75

Match report

Inter were clinical in their finishing, unlike Napoli, as Danilo D’Ambrosio and a spectacular Lautaro Martinez solo effort secured a 2-0 victory.

Samir Handanovic kept his third consecutive clean sheet, although it wasn’t easy, as Lorenzo Insigne, Eljif Elmas and Piotr Zielinski all had good scoring opportunities for the Partenopei.

D’Ambrosio met the inspired Cristiano Biraghi pull-back to open the scoring, then substitute Lautaro Martinez turned on the style with his scorching run from midfield and long-range finish into the far bottom corner.

Lazio, in fourth, will play Brescia on Wednesday, with Simone Inzaghi’s side also still in with a chance of finishing second, with their final game against Napoli at the weekend.

Danilo D’Ambrosio put Inter ahead after 11 minutes at the San Siro with Lautaro Martinez adding a second with 15 minutes to go against seventh-placed Napoli.

Gennaro Gattuso admitted Napoli would need to find goal-scoring solutions before they face Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 on 8 August.

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Ter Stegen doubts to play against Napoli

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Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is reportedly in doubt to feature in the Champions League Round of 16 with Napoli on August 8.

According to Spanish newspaper Diario AS, as reported by Football Espana, the German international is struggling with a persistent knee problem.

He already missed Barcelona’s last Liga game of the season at Alaves and is bound to require surgery to resolve the issue.

As that would keep him out for up to three months, it’ll probably only be done after the Champions League is completed.

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If Ter Stegen can’t make it, then former Fiorentina and Juventus goalkeeper Norberto Neto will go in goal.

Barcelona drew the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie with Napoli, 1-1 in February, and are due to play the second leg on August 8.

The Blaugrana are missing several key players already, as Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets are suspended.

Jean-Clair Todibo, Samuel Umtiti, Ousmane Dembele and even Antoine Griezmann are also carrying injuries.

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Barca Vs Napoli to go head to head in UCL

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In two weeks’ time, Barcelona and Napoli will go head to head for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The Catalans have the edge after the first leg, with an away goal in the 1-1 draw, and the pair meet again at the Camp Nou on August 8.

While Quique Setien’s side struggled in the final weeks of the LaLiga Santander season, Napoli are also finding it difficult to pick up some form in Serie A.

“Playing like this, in this way and with this attitude, we’re not even going to bother Barcelona in the Champions League,” Gennaro Gattuso said following Napoli’s recent defeat to Parma.

Gattuso’s side restarted their season with a trophy in June, beating Juventus in the Coppa Italia, but they’ve won just one of their last four matches in Serie A.

Napoli still have to play Lazio and Inter before the Italian domestic season finishes on August 2 – less than a week before their visit to the Camp Nou.

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It’s a different story for Setien, though, who will have had almost three weeks to prepare for the game.

The Spanish coach, Lionel Messi and the rest of the Blaugrana squad have put their differences behind them for now, focused on having a successful Champions League campaign, first against Napoli and then in Lisbon.

Antoine Griezmann and Clement Lenglet will be fit for the last 16 second leg, but Barcelona will be without the suspended Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal, leaving them short in midfield.

Riqui Puig could keep his place in the starting line-up, but the Champions League is a different prospect to playing Alaves, especially when the more experienced Sergi Roberto is available.

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Napoli sets bid for Madrid’s Jovic

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Napoli are reportedly interested in signing Luka Jovic from Real Madrid on a permanent basis.

The striker joined Los Blancos from Eintracht Frankfurt for 70 million euros last summer but hasn’t lived up to expectations this season.

According to reports in Italy, Napoli have met with the player’s agent, Fali Ramadani, and relayed their desire to bring his client to Serie A.

Napoli would be interested in either a loan or permanent move for Jovic, but any transfer fee would be low because of the financial restrictions on clubs this summer.

Real Madrid are listening to offers for the 22-year-old this summer, with Hertha Berlin also linked with a move for him.

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‘Barcelona will lose to Napoli’ – Messi

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Lionel Messi warns Barcelona they ‘will lose to Napoli’ in the Champions League if they don’t make radical changes after handing the Liga title to Real Madrid.

The Blaugrana were beaten by Osasuna on Thursday evening, the same day that Real Madrid mathematically clinched the title.

“This game is a microcosm of how our season has gone,” complained a visibly irritated Messi on Movistar.

“We were inconsistent, weak, beaten by a team that had more intensity and hunger. I think if we continue like this, it’s going to be difficult to win the Champions League.

“This wasn’t enough in La Liga. If we don’t change, we will lose to Napoli too.”

The first leg in the Champions League Round of 16 ended 1-1 at the Stadio San Paolo and the second leg is at Camp Nou on August 8.

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Final score: Napoli 2-2 AC Milan

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Game is over and the final score is Napoli 2-2 Milan. Here is the match report.

2019/2020 Serie A
2-2
Di Lorenzo (34′)
Mertens (60′)
Theo (20′)
Kessie (73′ PEN)


Match Events


0′ Players are warming up before the game

1′ The match is about to start!

9′ Yellow Card! Di Lorenzo booked

14′ CLOSE! Mertens’ shot stopped by Donnarumma

18′ CHANCE! Insigne hits the post

20′ GOAL! Napoli 0-1 Milan (Theo)

23′ Zielinski’s long shot wide out

34′ GOAL! Napoli 1-1 Milan (Di Lorenzo)

42′ What a save from Donnarumma

60′ GOAL! Napoli 2-1 Milan (Mertens)

73′ Penalty Goal! Napoli 2-2 Milan (Kessie)

87′ Second Yellow Card! Saelemaekers sent off

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Line-ups


Napoli XI: Ospina, Mertens, Callejon, Maksimovic, Insigne, Mario Rui, Koulibaly, Zielinski, Di Lorenzo, Lobotka, Fabian Ruiz

Subs: Manolas, Allan, Demme, Hysaj, Ghoulam, Younes, Milik, Politano, Luperto, Meret, Lozano, Elmas

Milan XI: Ibrahimovic, Kjaer, Calhanoglu, Conti, Rebic, Romagnoli, Kessie, Bennacer, Theo, Donnarumma, Paqueta

Subs: Biglia, A. Begović, Bonaventura, Laxalt, Krunic, Calabria, Gabbia, Soncin, Leao, A. Saelemaekers, Brescianini, Maldini.

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Napoli Vs Ac Milan starting Xi’s revealed

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The line-ups of Napoli vs Milan have been announced.

Napoli XI: Ospina, Mertens, Callejon, Maksimovic, Insigne, Mario Rui, Koulibaly, Zielinski, Di Lorenzo, Lobotka, Fabian Ruiz

Subs: Manolas, Allan, Demme, Hysaj, Ghoulam, Younes, Milik, Politano, Luperto, Meret, Lozano, Elmas

Milan XI: Ibrahimovic, Kjaer, Calhanoglu, Conti, Rebic, Romagnoli, Kessie, Bennacer, Theo, Donnarumma, Paqueta

Subs: Biglia, A. Begović, Bonaventura, Laxalt, Krunic, Calabria, Gabbia, Soncin, Leao, A. Saelemaekers, Brescianini, Maldini.

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Napoli crowned Copa Italia Champions after 4 – 2 penalty win over Juventus

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Napoli lifted the Coppa Italia with a 4-2 penalty shootout triumph over Ronaldo and former coach Maurizio Sarri on Wednesday following a dire goalless draw.

Match Reports
The Partenopei deserved their sixth cup triumph after passing up some big chances in the 90 minutes as Juve’s star attackers failed to show at the Stadio Olimpico.

Gianluigi Buffon made a succession of vital stops and the stage appeared set for the veteran to lead the Bianconeri to glory in the shootout, yet two team-mates failed from the spot as Napoli kept their nerve.

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Match Events
6′ Meret denies Ronaldo’s shot

Meret denies Ronaldo with a fine stop. Callejon gives the ball away on the edge of his own box to Dybala and the Argentine tees up Ronaldo for the strike. The Portuguese connects well with his effort, but the Napoli keeper gets down to make the save.

24′ Buffon denies Insigne’s free-kick

Insigne bends his effort over the wall towards the top-left corner. Buffon scrambles to get across, only for the ball to strike the post and bounce to safety.

40′ CLOSE! Buffon parries Demme’s shot

Demme charges through the Juve defence after a spell of Napoli pressure. The midfielder goes for a low drive from the right inside channel, but Buffon makes a fine stop with his legs to divert it behind for a corner.

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41′ AGAIN! Buffon makes decent save to stop Insigne

Juve clear the resulting corner as far as Insigne 25 yards from goal. He strikes a curling effort towards the top-left corner that Buffon has to turn behind for another set-piece.

54′ Bentancur’s shot flies into the sky

Ronaldo picks up steam down the left wing and he runs at the Napoli defence with menace. He cuts back on to his right foot on the edge of the box to tee up Bentancur. However, the Uruguayan scoops a harmless strike over the bar on his left foot.

83′ Yellow Card! Dybala booked

Dybala lunges in on Demme and goes into the book.

Penalty shootouts round 1 (Napoli 1-0 Juventus)

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SAVE! Meret denies Dybala with a fine stop, diving to his left to palm his strike away. 0-0.

Calm as you like from Insigne as he places his effort into the bottom-right corner. 0-1.

Round 2 (Napoli 2-0 Juventus)

OVER! Danilo blasts his effort well over the bar. He takes an age to line up his attempt and it’s not worth it, putting his team in huge trouble. 0-1.

Politano goes for power and he hammers his effort through the hands of the diving Buffon. 0-2.

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Round 3 (Napoli 3-1 Juventus)

Bonucci stems the tide for Juve as he clips the underside of the bar with his strike. 1-2.

Maksimovic goes for power and he rifles his effort into the back of the net. 1-3.

Round 4 (Napoli 4-2 Juventus)

Ramsey keeps the shootout alive as he outfoxes Meret to place his effort down the middle. 2-3.

It’s all on Milik to win the Coppa Italia for Napoli. The Pole does it as he holds his composure, stroking his effort into the bottom-right corner. 2-4.

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Mertens officially Renews his Napoli contract till 2022

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Dries Merens has finally put pen to paper on a new Napoli contract, keeping him at the club for at least two more years.

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Mertens’ signature came on Wednesday afternoon, just hours before Napoli are due to contest the Coppa Italia Final.

“Happy to be together for a long time. Long live Dries!” tweeted President Aurelio De Laurentiis.

He has extended his deal until 2022, with the option of a third season at the San Paolo, after declining moves to Chelsea and Inter.

Despite just turning 33, he is a true fans’ favourite for the Partenopei and – in netting the goal against Inter that booked their place in the Coppa Final – became their all-time top scorer.

Since joining from PSV in 2013, Mertens has scored 122 goals and assisted 73 in 310 appearances for Napoli.

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Mertens goal sends Inter outta Copa italia

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Dries Mertens set a club record by scoring the decisive goal as Napoli advanced to the Italian Cup final after drawing with Inter Milan 1-1 on Saturday.

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In both sides’ first match in more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Inter took an early lead when Christian Eriksen scored directly from a corner kick, with David Ospina conceding a howler as the ball bounced underneath him.

Mertens equalised before the break by finishing off a splendid counterattack, and eclipsed Marek Hamsik as Napoli’s leading scorer with his 122nd in all competitions.

Napoli advanced 2-1 on aggregate inside an empty San Paolo Stadium, having won the first leg 1-0 in February.

‘We wanted to reach the final at all costs,’ Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne said.

In the final on Wednesday in Rome, Napoli will face Juventus, which eliminated AC Milan on away goals on Friday in the first match of Italian soccer’s restart.

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No games had been played since the country since March 9.

Before kickoff, a minute of silence was observed to mourn the more than 34,000 people who have died from the virus in Italy. Three medical workers wearing white lab coats stood at midfield surrounded by the teams on the centre circle.

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‘Hopefully we brought them some joy tonight,’ Insigne said of the medical workers and others who have been affected the most during the pandemic.

After the minute, Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso looked to the sky – likely remembering his younger sister, Francesca, who died last week from diabetes.

‘We dedicate this win to him,’ Insigne said of Gattuso.

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During the warmup, Inter players wore armbands that read ‘#NoToDiscrimination’.

Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina was caught off guard when Eriksen’s corner found its way through traffic and went through his legs two minutes in.

But Ospina redeemed himself with difficult saves and set up Mertens’ goal with a splendid long ball to Insigne.

Insigne smartly attracted two defenders before leaving the ball for a wide open Mertens to calmly finish.

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It was such a swift counterattack that referee Gianluca Rocchi had to be treated with a spray on the sideline for an apparent muscular problem.

‘We try this play often in training,’ Insigne said.

On Napoli’s all-time scoring list, Mertens moved seven goals ahead of Diego Maradona, who is third.

Mertens is also due for a contract extension, Napoli sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli confirmed before kickoff.

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Napoli is attempting to win its sixth Italian Cup and first since 2014. The title would also provide Napoli with direct entry into the Europa League group phase – a welcome prospect amid a difficult Serie A season that saw Gennaro Gattuso replace the fired Carlo Ancelotti as coach in December.

Napoli is also still to play the return leg of the Champions League round of 16 against Barcelona, following a 1-1 first leg.

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PSG ends talks with Koulibaly leaving Man utd without Rival


Manchester United have been given a clear path to sign Kalidou Koulibaly after PSG reportedly gave up on their pursuit of the centre back.

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The Senegalese defender has been in huge demand recently and he is expected to leave the Stadio San Paolo this summer after impressing consistently through the years at Napoli.

Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Liverpool and Co have all been linked with Koulibaly but both United and PSG were always front-runners for his signature.

But according to French newspaper Le Parisien, PSG have now pulled out of the race for Koulibaly this summer as they believe Napoli’s asking price of £63million is too excessive.

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This therefore has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a free run at signing Koulibaly in the upcoming market.

Koulibaly has become one of the most sought after defenders in world football in recent years after shining in Serie A.

Since joining in 2014 from Belgian outfit Genk, he has been a virtual ever-present in the Naples outfit’s backline.

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His arrival saw Napoli finish fifth in Serie A during the 2014-15 season but since then they’ve finished runners-up three times (2015-16, 2017-18 and 2018-19) and third once (2016-17).

Koulibaly, who has played 233 times overall for Napoli, has it all – he allies his physical dominance and speed with his composure on the ball.


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Inter focuses on Cavani as Mertens chooses Napoli stay


Inter are now concentrating their efforts on Edinson Cavani after Dries Mertens opted to stay at Napoli.

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Cavani is also available on a free transfer but, unlike Mertens, Paris Saint-Germain have not opened talks to renew the striker’s contract.

However, given his different profile to the Belgian, sources explains he would form part of a new-look Nerazzurri attack.

That is because Lautaro Martinez could join Barcelona, Alexis Sanchez will return to Manchester United and Sebastiano Esposito is set to be loaned out.

The 33-year-old, for his part, has been replaced in PSG’s front line by Mauro Icardi this season, and the Inter loanee looks like making his stay permanent.

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For a deal to happen, Il Corriere warns Inter must see off competition from Atletico Madrid.

It is thought Atletico could offer him closer to his current €18m salary, but the Beneamata are almost certain to be able to offer Champions League football.


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