September 30, 2019 / 8:13 AM / 24 days ago

Soccer-Five talking points from the Serie A weekend

MILAN, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Five talking points from Serie A where AC Milan’s crisis continued with a 3-1 home defeat to Fiorentina, piling the pressure on coach Marco Giampaolo.

MILAN SAY GIAMPAOLO SAFE, MEDIA SPECULATE ON REPLACEMENT

Crisis-hit AC Milan insisted that beleaguered coach Marco Giampaolo’s job was safe after their 3-1 home defeat by Fiorentina - their fourth defeat in the opening six Serie A games - but that did not stop the local media from speculating on a replacement.

Gazzetta dello Sport listed former AS Roma, Lille and Olympique Marseille coach Rudi Garcia and veteran Claudio Ranieri - both currently without a club - as the leading candidates.

The names of former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and ex-Roma and Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti were also mentioned and another report suggested Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko, a former Milan player, as an option.

“We knew it was going to be risky with a team as young as this, maybe at San Siro the shirt weighs too much,” said Paolo Maldini, the club’s sporting director.

“The coach was our choice and is one we made together and we will defend it all the time. Four defeats in six games are too many, we expected better but it’s fair to give him time.”

He also said that Giampaolo needed to consider changes to his 4-3-1-2 scheme.

“You must be ready to understand situations because there are so many variables and this applies to him as well as to the players.”

RIBERY FLOURISHING AT FIORENTINA

Fiorentina’s veteran winger Franck Ribery was given a standing ovation by the San Siro crowd after scoring the club’s third goal.

The 36-year-old Frenchman, who joined Fiorentina at the start of the season after 12 years at Bayern Munich, said he is enjoying his football as much as ever.

“Yes, I’m getting old but I’m young on the pitch,” he said. “Football is my life, I’m always hungry and it’s really great to play in a team with young players. It’s always special to play here, but we gave a really good performance and we are happy.

“I came to help Fiorentina, the players and the fans. I am happy, but I need to work every day, every week to play the way I did tonight.”

TREND-SETTING CONTE

Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte, whose team are the only one to have won their opening six games, believes he could be setting a trend with his three-man defence.

“It’s becoming fashionable,” said the former Chelsea and Juventus coach. “In Italy, more and more coaches are using it. When I went to England, nobody was using it and now lots of them are, even the national side.”

NAPOLI AGAIN MAKE LIFE DIFFICULT FOR THEMSELVES

Beaten 1-0 at home by Cagliari in midweek, Napoli again made life difficult for themselves as they had to cling on for a 2-1 win at home to promoted Brescia after leading 2-0 at halftime.

“We cannot concede a goal the way we did and always make it complicated for ourselves,” said forward Dries Mertens. “We can’t keep doing that and suffering like this, even if we managed to get the win.”

LAZIO FINALLY FIND SCORING TOUCH

After losing three of their previous four games in all competitions, Lazio finally found their scoring touch with a 4-0 drubbing of Genoa - much to the relief of coach Simone Inzaghi.

“We were clinical in our finishing and could even have scored more in the first half,” he said.

“We needed to turn the tide. We still don’t have as many points in the table as we deserve, considering the performances throughout the season. It’s all good and well to play well, but we must be clinical too.” (Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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