Report: 11 Genoa players have COVID

It’s now reported 11 Genoa players and three members of staff tested positive for COVID-19, perhaps including six who played against Napoli yesterday.

The Grifone already had Mattia Perin test positive on Saturday, so the rest of the squad had swabs that found only Lasse Schone to also be positive on Sunday morning.

The squad then travelled to Naples, where they lost the Serie A match 6-0 at the Stadio San Paolo.

This evening, just 24 hours after that game, Genoa announced that in total 14 between players and staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Sky Sport Italia, the split is 11 players positive and three members of staff.

It’s rumoured this includes six who were on the pitch against Napoli on Sunday.

The report states that there were some symptoms among the team as they returned to Genoa, prompting the new round of swabs.

Now, inevitably, this weekend’s Serie A game against Torino is likely to be postponed.

There is also a knock-on effect for Napoli, who will need to go into isolation and have repeated swabs ahead of their match with Juventus.

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Mancini: ‘Uncertain Scudetto race’

Roberto Mancini believes Juventus face an ‘uncertain’ and open Scudetto race from Inter, Napoli, Milan, Lazio, Roma and Atalanta.

The Italy coach spoke at an awards ceremony and was asked about the 2020-21 title race.

“Juve remain the most complete squad, but I believe it really will be an uncertain campaign and open to far more Scudetto challengers,” said Mancini.

“I am thinking of Inter, Napoli, Milan, Lazio, Roma, but also Atalanta, who could confirm their status among the top teams.”

The Bianconeri have won nine Serie A titles on the trot, but are now under debutant coach Andrea Pirlo.

“Pirlo was praised after the first win and criticised after the draw with Roma, but I doubt it’ll frighten him. He has the necessary experience to know that in football opinions are overturned every three days, especially in Italy.”

There are now 1,000 fans allowed into stadiums in Italy, with plans to open up to 25 per cent capacity next month.

“Football belongs to the people. Athletes might get used to doing without the support of the crowd, but it’s not the same thing in an empty arena with nobody there to entertain.

“The clubs also suffer financially, so I think the time has come to reopen the stadiums.”

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Khedira refusing to quit Juventus

Sami Khedira is reportedly refusing to terminate his Juventus contract early unless he receives the full remaining salary.

According to Sky Sport Italia, the 33-year-old has no intention of leaving Turin before his deal expires, which is in June 2021.

There is also an option to extend for a further season after that, an agreement penned in September 2018.

Juve have been able to cut their losses by releasing Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi early, both going on to join MLS club Inter Miami.

Despite negotiations with his brother and agent, Juventus have not been able to convince Khedira to give up on any of the €6m per year wages.

The German international has been with the Bianconeri since 2015, when he left Real Madrid as a free agent.

He has been linked with a potential move to PSG to work with coach Thomas Tuchel.

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Highlights: Roma 2-2 Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo’s towering header allowed Juventus to snatch a 2-2 draw away to Roma, twice coming back to cancel out Jordan Veretout goals.

The Giallorossi will be ruing their failure to kill off the game, especially after Adrien Rabiot’s nightmare performance resulted in him giving away a penalty and getting a second yellow card.

Despite being down to 10 men, Juve still fought back a second time to grab the point with CR7.

Edin Dzeko will be filled with regret after missing a sitter to put the game beyond the Bianconeri, hitting the outside of the post.

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Pirlo: ‘A step back for Juventus’

Andrea Pirlo admits the 2-2 draw with Roma was ‘a step back’ in terms of performance for Juventus, but ‘we are a work in progress’ and explains what didn’t quite work.

The coach changed one player from the 3-0 win over Sampdoria, Alvaro Morata for Gianluca Frabotta, but that resulted in a transformation of their tactics.

Cristiano Ronaldo twice got them back on level terms after Jordan Veretout goals, even though Adrien Rabiot was sent off for two bookable offences on the hour mark.

“We faced two completely different teams this season, so I knew our approach would be totally different to the one against Sampdoria,” Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia.

“It was a step back in terms of performance, but this is a work in progress and we haven’t had an opportunity to play pre-season friendlies to test these things out.

“It was ultimately a point gained, as we were a goal down twice and then down to 10 men, while we have some players like Arthur who haven’t really played for six months.

“We wanted to make the most of one-on-one situations, as we knew Roma would attack in numbers, but it didn’t go quite the way we hoped. It was always going to be tough against an organised team.

“We tried to keep the midfield lines tight to not allow space for the trequartista. At times it worked, at times it didn’t, but we are having to test all these situations during a match, seeing as we didn’t have pre-season friendlies.”

The way Pirlo sets out his players remains very fluid, with three at the back mutating into four, Aaron Ramsey in more of a free role, but always two in midfield.

“We have midfielders suited to a two-man system, so Bentancur, Arthur and Rabiot all have these characteristics and we have to put them in the condition to give their best.

“Unfortunately, these are all situations you can’t test out in training, it needs to be a match. Arthur needs time to adapt to Serie A and to our style of football, not to mention he’s not fully fit after so long out of action,” continued Pirlo.

“Bentancur played if anything too much last season, he ended the campaign exhausted and has been doing specific training work to get back into shape.

“We’re very glad to have Ronaldo, as he doesn’t just provide goals. He ran more when we went down to 10 men and that was a great help to his teammates.”

Dejan Kulusevski and Juan Cuadrado went wide this time around, but struggled to get genuine scoring opportunities.

“We knew it could be difficult down the wings, as Roma have very aggressive defenders. We should’ve spread them out more, but got the movements wrong and all went in the same direction, so that didn’t create the spaces we were looking for. These are areas where we can certainly improve.”

Pirlo was asked if Inter have more strength in depth than Juventus now they’ve brought in Achraf Hakimi, Arturo Vidal and Aleksandar Kolarov.

“I don’t know if it is better than ours, but it is certainly stronger than last season, as they brought in players of quality. I think it’ll be a battle to the very end. I told the lads substitutions would be important this evening, especially seeing what happened with Inter last night, and that was true.”

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