March 11, 2019 / 9:53 AM / 7 months ago

Talking points from the Serie A weekend

MILAN (Reuters) - Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic's motivational work paid off, the Mauro Icardi saga dragged on at Inter Milan and Torino striker Andrea Belotti was back to his best in Serie A at the weekend.

File photo: Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

Here are the talking points from the weekend in Serie A:

MIHAJLOVIC’S CINEMA SESSIONS DO THE TRICK

Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic made his players watch some films, including the 2004 production “Alexander”, during the week as part of his efforts to motivate his relegation-threatened side.

Mihajlovic said he wanted to get his players away from their smart phones and give them something to talk about.

“It is what we have been lacking - we don’t talk enough on the field and communication in football is fundamental. The characters in those films reacted to difficulties, became a team and become stronger,” he said.

“When I was a player, we used to sit around a table playing cards. Now, they sit around table with their phones and don’t speak.”

His methods paid off as Bologna beat Cagliari 2-0 in a key relegation battle. Although they stayed in the bottom three, they are now only one point behind Empoli, the lowest-placed team outside the drop zone, and two behind SPAL.

“It’s a sign that the work we did this week paid off,” he said. “We won every header and every second ball. I was glad to see that confidence flowing.”

CARROT-AND-STICK APPROACH FOR ICARDI

Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi wants to stay at the club, his wife and agent Wanda Nara said, as the saga concerning the renewal of his contract dragged on.

Icardi, who was not at the San Siro for Sunday's 2-0 win over SPAL, was stripped of the captaincy one month ago and has not played for the club since, saying he has a knee injury.

“Mauro wants to continue his career at Inter. We hope everything will be resolved as soon as possible,” said Nara. “Mauro has not invented the knee story - he is concentrating on curing it because he doesn’t feel important.”

Before the game, Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said he was optimistic the case would be resolved.

“We have to stay calm and use a carrot-and-stick approach,” he said. “These things get sorted out with intelligence and common sense.”

ANOTHER NERVOUS INTER PERFORMANCE

Inter’s 2-0 win over SPAL looked comfortable enough in the end but their nervous display in the first-half frustrated coach Luciano Spalletti.

“We struggled a bit with the emotions at the start and this must not happen,” he said. “We were a bit timid and insecure during the first half.

“The lads had a different conviction after our second goal and we were back in possession of our characteristics. In the second half I could see what we were really about.”

INSIGNE TIRED OF BEING THE SCAPEGOAT

Despite scoring a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw at home to Sassuolo, Napoli striker Lorenzo Insigne was still upset at the criticism he received for missing late penalty in last week's 2-1 home defeat by Juventus.

“Like the rest of the team, I always want to win,” he said. “I’m the one who gets criticised. I don’t want to cause trouble but I’m the only one who is targeted when I don’t score or don’t play well.

“It upsets me, but I’m working hard to improve.”

Soccer Football - Europa League - Round of 32 Second Leg - Inter Milan v SK Rapid Wien - San Siro, Milan, Italy - February 21, 2019 Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi with his wife Wanda Nara REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

MAZZARRI DELIGHTED TO SEE THE ‘OLD’ BELOTTI

Torino forward Andrea Belotti scored both goals in the 2-1 win at Frosinone, earning some rare praise from coach Walter Mazzarri.

“We’ve been working on his technique in training, his first touch and control,” said the notoriously hard-to-please coach. “He’d been playing very well in recent weeks and it just wasn’t going into the net, but I knew it had to sooner or later.

“I think he deserves to be in the Italy squad... I believe he has discovered the form of old.”

Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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