Franck Ribery has apologised for pushing an assistant referee following Fiorentina's Serie A defeat to Lazio on Sunday.

Ribery, who joined the club after leaving Bayern Munich at the end of the 2018-19 campaign, twice shoved the official on the pitch after the Viola's 2-1 defeat to Simone Inzaghi's side.

The former France international – who was substituted with 14 minutes of the game remaining – could now face a potentially lengthy ban.

He took to social media on Monday to issue an apology to the official and everyone associated with Fiorentina.

"I'm really sorry for last night," a post on Twitter read. "I apologise to my team-mates, the coach and the fans. I also apologise to Mr [Matteo] Passeri because at the end of the match I was very agitated and sad, and I hope he can understand my mood.

"I always want to stay on the pitch and help my team-mates because I came all the way to Florence for this city and this club, and I think Fiorentina should get more attention. The same attention given to other clubs, for the great work we're doing every day."

Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso had earlier said the failure of VAR to intervene and disallow Ciro Immobile's winner led to the ugly scenes.

"It's a little bit scandalous what happened to us because it will penalise us for a long time," he said. "Ribery was a bit nervous and he was wrong, even though he had a reason. We'll see how we move forward."

Gianluigi Buffon says it could take another two months before Maurizio Sarri's masterplan for Juventus is fully implemented.

The former Chelsea and Napoli boss is attempting to instil a more attacking approach in the Serie A champions following the departure of Massimiliano Allegri and his more pragmatic style at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Despite sitting atop Serie A after nine games, four teams have scored more goals than them this season – something Buffon expects to change by the start of 2020.

"You are starting to see something different; a constant pursuit of attacking football that we did not have in the last few years," he told TV show Tiki Taka.

"We will see his full system in two months because we could not rely on some important players in the initial part of the season."

Inter are just a point behind Juve at the Serie A summit and look well placed to threaten the Bianconeri's chances of securing a ninth consecutive league title.

Buffon is looking forward to an almighty battle with the Nerazzurri and says he has been particularly impressed with striker Lautaro Martinez, who has six goals in all competitions this season.

"I have great respect for them; they are a great competitor this year," he added. "If Champions League was out of the picture, we would go toe-to-toe up until the end. The continental competition could make you lose some points.

"[Inter coach] Antonio Conte is extraordinary and can pull off some miracles. Lautaro Martinez is in great form. He is very confident and has something more than their other attackers."

After a 1-1 draw with Lecce on Saturday, Juventus will hope to return to winning ways when they host Genoa on Wednesday.

Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso thinks the proper use of VAR in Sunday's loss to Lazio would have prevented ugly scenes after the final whistle, when Franck Ribery shoved an assistant referee.

Ribery, who was named Serie A MVP in September, twice pushed the official in a heated exchange on the pitch after the Viola's controversial 2-1 defeat to Simone Inzaghi's side.

The veteran winger had earlier become frustrated at being substituted 14 minutes before Ciro Immobile's goal sealed a victory for the visitors at the Artemio Franchi.

Ribery could now face a potentially lengthy ban, something Commisso is prepared to accept.

However, the American insists the incident only took place because of Fiorentina's frustrations around Immobile's goal, with an apparent foul by Jordan Lukaku on Riccardo Sottil in the build-up going unpunished and unchecked by VAR.

"We've had replays in the US for years and we have no controversy. Last night, I saw why it's so controversial in Italy," Commisso said to Radio Anch'io Sport.

"It's a little bit scandalous what happened to us because it will penalise us for a long time.

"Ribery was a bit nervous and he was wrong, even though he had a reason. We'll see how we move forward.

"But it all comes from a foul that wasn't given. Why is VAR there if it isn't used? It was the same against Napoli.

"This is an international rule and it seems right to me that he was sent off. But I don't understand why, at international level, it wasn't signalled to go to VAR."

The result saw Lazio climb to sixth in the table after nine games, three points above Fiorentina in ninth.

Rumours linking Paul Pogba to Real Madrid are refusing to go away.

Pogba – nursing an ankle injury which is set to keep him sidelined until December – wanted to leave Manchester United in the previous transfer window but a move did not materialise.

With the January window approaching, Madrid are eyeing the French star again.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID PLOTTING POGBA PURCHASE

Real Madrid are preparing to make a January bid for Manchester United star Paul Pogba, according to OK Diario.

Pogba was wanted by Madrid and former club Juventus in the previous window as he eyed an Old Trafford exit, yet United were unwilling to part with their prized asset.

But with Pogba reportedly set to make it clear he will not renew his United contract beyond 2021, Madrid are lining up a €150million (£129.5m) offer.

 

ROUND-UP

- Another Frenchman is also reportedly high on Madrid's radar. AS reports the Spanish powerhouse are hoping to take advantage of a tense relationship between Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe and head coach Thomas Tuchel. Madrid are determined to lure Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season.

- Linked with Madrid and LaLiga champions Barcelona, in-demand Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz is also wanted by Premier League holders Manchester City. Gazzetta dello Sport claims City are set to make an approach for the Spain international.

- According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona are interested in Inter forward Lautaro Martinez. The Argentina international has been linked with Barca after his agent previously revealed the club's interest in Martinez. Now, Ernesto Valverde's side are eyeing the in-form marksman – who has also reportedly attracted the attention of Manchester United – as Inter pursue Barca pair Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal.

United are prepared to meet Borussia Dortmund's demands for England sensation Jadon Sancho, reports the Mirror. Sancho has also been linked to Liverpool and Madrid.

Stefano Sensi's exploits at Inter have not gone unnoticed. On loan from Sassuolo with the option to buy, Sport says there is already contact between Barca, Inter and the player's agent.

Stefano Pioli acknowledged he expected more from AC Milan after taking just one point from his opening two Serie A matches in charge of the Rossoneri.

Having drawn 2-2 against Lecce in Pioli's first match, Milan went down 2-1 to Roma on Sunday as Davide Calabria's error gifted Nicolo Zaniolo a winner.

Calabria's introduction in place of the struggling Andrea Conti had looked a masterstroke by former Inter boss Pioli three minutes earlier, when the full-back crossed for Theo Hernandez to cancel out Edin Dzeko's opener.

Although Pioli already seems to have imprinted an improved attacking philosophy on the Rossoneri since replacing Marco Giampaolo, the results are yet to follow, and Milan's coach did not hide his frustration.

"I expected more, yes. Over the two games, we frankly gave our contribution to the failed victories," Pioli told Sky Sports Italia.

"We made mistakes that were too obvious for a club of our status. We had done well enough in the first half and ran few risks, but the game would've been more in our favour had we not given away that goal.

"There's no point denying it, the situation is negative right now and we keep making clear errors. The most evident errors were on the two goals, but they weren't the only ones.

"I saw the performance as a step backwards compared to the Lecce game last week. If the ball moves slowly from the back, it becomes difficult to create any spaces.

"With a little more focus and concentration, we could've kept the match in the balance for longer. We were imprecise and paid the price for that."

Despite being annoyed by Milan's sloppiness, Pioli added he has no questions over the squad's attitude.

"I don't think we lacked determination, but we made too many wrong decisions and that is costly against a side on the same level as you," he said.

"We needed to play better on a technical level, with more precise passing, and we just didn't do that.

"I believe we have the quality to be more dangerous in attack than we were and to be more solid than we were. At this level, the games are in the balance and the slightest detail can make the difference.

"I don't believe we were negative or lacking in courage, but we conceded goals in avoidable situations."

Stefano Pioli's wait for his first win as AC Milan coach continues after Davide Calabria's error gifted Roma a 2-1 victory in Sunday's Serie A encounter.

Having come on shortly after half-time, right-back Calabria made an immediate impact when he teed up Theo Hernandez's equaliser in the 55th minute at Stadio Olimpico.

Hernandez's effort cancelled out Edin Dzeko's first-half opener, but Calabria ruined his good work when his loose ball enabled Nicolo Zaniolo to restore Roma's lead.

Gianluca Mancini's poor miss kept Milan's hopes alive but their new coach failed to inspire a comeback as the Rossoneri remain entrenched in the mid-table.

Milan had the better of the opening stages, Franck Kessie's slide-rule pass splitting Roma's defence in the 16th minute, but Lucas Paqueta strayed offside before drilling under Pau Lopez.

Javier Pastore failed to capitalise on a Kessie error soon after, though Dzeko made no such mistake in the 38th minute, heading home unmarked at the far post after a corner was flicked on.

Pastore would have doubled Roma's lead before the break if not for Gianluigi Donnarumma's fantastic save, and Milan's goalkeeper was left rooted to the spot when Chris Smalling sent a close-range header wide.

Smalling's frustration was compounded when he deflected Hernandez's volley beyond Lopez after Milan's left-back connected with Calabria's cross.

Parity lasted just three minutes, however - Dzeko pouncing on Calabria's slack pass to turn provider for Zaniolo, who coolly whipped a low finish into the left corner.

Mancini should have doubled Roma's advantage with a free header, but Milan could not make their hosts pay for the midfielder's profligacy, with Hakan Calhanoglu missing a pair of late attempts to draw level.

 

What does it mean? Pioli's tenure yet to lift off

Marco Giampaolo oversaw a 2-1 comeback victory over Genoa in his final outing as Milan coach, as it appeared the former Sampdoria boss had finally found a winning formula.

But Milan elected to cut his spell short over the international break and take a punt on Pioli. Although the Rossoneri's football has been more incisive, their soft defence has left the ex-Inter coach with just one point from his first two matches.

Clinical Dzeko shows Milan what they are missing

Roma's number nine had failed to score in his three previous outings in all competitions but was in the right place at the right time to nose Paulo Fonseca's side ahead on Sunday.

With Krzysztof Piatek failing to recapture last season's form in 2019-20 and Rafael Leao still learning his trade, what Milan would give to have a striker of Dzeko's pedigree leading their line.

Calabria suffers a swift fall from grace

Pioli's call to replace the struggling Andrea Conti quickly paid dividends when Calabria provided an exceptional cross into Hernandez. However, he went from super-sub to a dud when he tried a risky pass which was easily cut out by Dzeko ahead of Zaniolo's strike.

What's next?

Roma visit Udinese on Wednesday, while Milan are in action against struggling SPAL a day later.

Atalanta defeated Udinese 7-1 on Sunday to equal their biggest ever Serie A victory and move within three points of champions and leaders Juventus.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side collapsed from 3-0 up at Lazio last week, missing the chance to briefly top the table, and then let an early lead slip in a humbling Champions League defeat to Manchester City.

But it was Atalanta's turn to come from behind after Stefano Okaka's 11th-minute opener.

Luis Muriel netted a hat-trick to become just the second player to score at least eight times in the first nine matches of a Serie A season for Atalanta.

Josip Ilicic struck twice in a first half in which Nicholas Opoku was sent off for Udinese, while Mario Pasalic and 17-year-old debutant Amad Traore were also on target.

The Bergamo outfit matched the six-goal margin of victory from their previous record top-flight win - a 7-1 triumph over Triestina in June 1952 - and have now scored 28 goals in the league, the most at this stage of a season since AC Milan in 1992-93.

Take your pick: Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester City?

Napoli star Fabian Ruiz is in demand following his exploits in Serie A since leaving Real Betis in 2018.

LaLiga giants Madrid are keen to bring Spanish midfielder Fabian to the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STEPPING UP FABIAN INTEREST

Real Madrid are prepared to offer €20million and Isco for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz, according to Mundo Deportivo.

In-demand Napoli star Fabian is wanted by Madrid, LaLiga champions Barcelona and Premier League holders Manchester City.

Fabian swapped Real Betis for Napoli in 2018 and Madrid are determined to bring the Spain international to the Santiago Bernabeu, though Napoli are reportedly uninterested in an exchange and wanted a bigger transfer fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- According the Mirror, Manchester United have been given the green light for a £125million double swoop to sign Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz and Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller. Havertz is wanted by Europe's elite, while Muller is searching for more game time.

United have been put off signing Real Madrid's Gareth Bale due to his injury record, reports the Daily Mail. Bale's name continues to be mentioned amid Madrid's interest in United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Inter are ready to make January bids for Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal and Manchester United's Nemanja Matic, according to Corriere della Sera. Sport also claims Inter are in talks with Barca for Ivan Rakitic.

- AS claims Barcelona want Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman to replace head coach Ernesto Valverde, who is out of contract at season's end. PSV's Mark van Bommel is also on the list of alternatives.

Manchester City are set to offer Wayne Rooney's son Kai the chance to join their academy, says the Mirror. Kai joined City in 2016 during Wayne's time at Premier League rivals Manchester United.

- Soccer Link reports Lyon are open to selling Manchester United target and star striker Moussa Dembele.

AC Milan director Paolo Maldini believes "fear" could hold Zlatan Ibrahimovic back from returning to Serie A.

LA Galaxy superstar Ibrahimovic's contract is set to expire and the former Milan, Inter and Juventus striker has been linked with a move back to Italy.

Ibrahimovic, whose side were eliminated from the MLS play-offs by Los Angeles FC, claimed he would score 20 goals a season in Serie A amid growing links to Napoli, Bologna and Inter.

The possibility of Ibrahimovic returning to Milan has also been mentioned as the Rossoneri struggle for goals, however, Maldini cast doubt over the 38-year-old's Italy comeback.

"Ibra would be a dream return for many reasons, but I think within his mind there is a little fear that he won't be the dominant Ibra of old," Maldini told Sky Sport Italia.

"I remember when [former Milan head coach] Carlo Ancelotti put me on the bench for a derby and that's when I realised, I could not accept a season like that. I don't know if Ibra could accept that either.

"Krzysztof Piatek is a good striker. He needs to think more about playing with the team, but his strength is scoring goals."

Ibrahimovic has flourished since moving to Los Angeles from Manchester United in 2018 – scoring 53 goals across two seasons for the Galaxy.

 

 

Antonio Conte said he is worried about injuries affecting his Inter squad in the coming weeks after his side were held to a 2-2 draw by Parma.

Kwadwo Asamoah and Stefan de Vrij were left out of Conte's starting line-up at San Siro, where goals in either half from Antonio Candreva and Romelu Lukaku helped to earn the Nerazzurri a point.

The result leaves Inter a point behind Serie A leaders Juventus, who drew 1-1 with Lecce earlier in the day, and Conte expressed his concerns in the midst of a busy fixture schedule.

Inter play their next three games away at Brescia, Bologna and Borussia Dortmund in the space of eight days, and Conte told Sky Sports: "This was our third game in six days. We play more or less the same again and we will have difficulties.

"We are not calm about this. We have four other games in a short time.

"De Vrij had a problem with his adductor and Asamoah with his knee. It becomes difficult to play in two competitions with a squad reduced to the minimum."

Conte is without Alexis Sanchez until after Christmas due to a foot tendon problem and he will monitor the fitness of Danilo D'Ambrosio and Stefano Sensi as they recover from injuries over the coming weeks.

The Inter boss picked out 20-year-old defender Alessandro Bastoni, who started against Parma, and 17-year-old forward Sebastiano Esposito as focal points of Inter's future plans, but indicated that he would consult with the club's board to establish a plan for his squad given the growing list of absentees.

"We must make assessments with the club and understand where we can do better," said Conte.

"I understand that it is part of a growth project, and we are also focusing on young people like Bastoni and Esposito and we need to be patient, but I am worried anyway."

Parma forward Yann Karamoh scored one and set up another on his San Siro return to help his side earn a 2-2 draw and deny Inter top spot in Serie A.

Juventus dropped points for just the second time this season in their 1-1 draw with Lecce earlier on Saturday but Inter, despite taking the lead, could not take full advantage.

Karamoh, whose loan to Parma from the Nerazzurri is set to become permanent at the end of the season, cancelled out Antonio Candreva's fortuitous opener and set up Gervinho to put Parma ahead in the 30th minute. 

Romelu Lukaku equalised early in the second half despite being in an offside position in the build-up - his sixth Serie A goal awarded after a lengthy VAR check - but Inter could not find a winner and remain a point adrift of leaders Juve.

No Serie A side had scored more first-half goals this season than Inter prior to kick-off and they were ahead inside 23 minutes - Candreva's half-volley from the edge of the box deflecting off Kastriot Dermaku to leave Luigi Sepe wrong-footed.

The visitors responded in style as Karamoh pounced on a loose pass from Marcelo Brozovic, carried the ball forward and picked out the top-left corner with a stunning strike.

Gervinho put Parma in front four minutes later following another sloppy ball from Brozovic, which Karamoh again profited from by surging forward and picking out his team-mate for a low finish from 10 yards.

Inter were back on level terms six minutes into the second half through Lukaku's close-range finish, the goal allowed to stand despite the Belgian standing in an illegal position when Brozovic played in Candreva to tee him up.

Gervinho was denied by Samir Handanovic and Karamoh also had an effort kept out as Parma refused to give up, but the match finished all square

 

Maurizio Sarri confirmed Gonzalo Higuain was conscious and lucid after a blow to the head left the Juventus striker needing a stretcher at full-time in a 1-1 draw with Lecce.

Higuain came off worse in an aerial collision with goalkeeper Gabriel late in Saturday's entertaining Serie A match at Stadio Via del Mare.

Medical staff applied bandages to the Argentinian's bloodied head and he completed the match as normal, unleashing multiple shots as the visitors attempted to reclaim the lead.

His condition reportedly worsened after the final whistle and he had to be carried from the pitch.

"Gonzalo is having stitches, then they will decide whether to take him to the hospital," Sarri said in a post-match interview with Sky Sport Italia.

"He is conscious and responding clearly. I think he will come back with us [to Turin]."

Juve earlier lost Miralem Pjanic to a muscle problem on a costly day.

Sarri's decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo from the matchday squad backfired badly as the Bianconeri wasted numerous chances either side of Paulo Dybala's 50th-minute penalty.

Matthijs de Ligt's inadvertent handball allowed Marco Mancosu to equalise from the spot six minutes later and Lecce held firm under pressure to register their first home point of the season.

Sarri said: "Ronaldo was tired physically and mentally. Bringing him here would not have allowed him to recover.

"When a player becomes fatigued, then it's right to let him rest. It was something he also felt. The fact remains we produced 10 scoring opportunities and didn't finish them."

The draw marked the second time Juve have dropped points under Sarri in Serie A, the champions having settled for a stalemate against Fiorentina in September.

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has defended out-of-form forward Suso and urged his players to ignore the "hysteria" surrounding their draw with Lecce last time out.

Marco Calderoni scored a stunning late equaliser for strugglers Lecce to earn a 2-2 draw and deny Pioli victory in his first match at San Siro since succeeding Marco Giampaolo.

Suso has one goal and no assists from eight league starts this term and has come in for criticism during Milan's disappointing run, but Pioli has offered support to the Spain international.

"We won't be part of any social or media pillory of our players. We are united, the objective is to be a team and fight for the results together," Pioli said at Saturday's news conference.

"If you hit one player, you hit us all, you hit me and you hit Milan. We have to be positive and not let ourselves get caught up in hysteria.

"We've got to prove ourselves in every match and learn from the Lecce game where we should have been more concentrated. It's not just about players being young or inexperienced, but the way we interpret the matches."

Milan have won just one of their last five matches and are in the bottom half of Serie A, three points adrift of Sunday's opponents Roma.

Pioli is anticipating a difficult match at Stadio Olimpico and acknowledged his other attacking players will have to step things up.

"We are up against a Roma side that have lost only one game this season," he said. "I expect them to be determined and we need to match them on that level.

"I expect Lucas Paqueta to be more enterprising on the ball and create more danger going forward. I liked the way [Hakan] Calhanoglu approached last week's game, not just the goal he scored."

Asked if Suso will retain his place in the starting line-up, Pioli said: "The best possible team for the game will play tomorrow. That is all I can tell you. You can read the XI when the time comes."

Maurizio Sarri's decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo backfired as Juventus were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at promoted Lecce.

Matthijs de Ligt's handball enabled Marco Mancosu to score from the spot in the 56th minute and earn the hosts their first home point of the Serie A season at Stadio Via del Mare.

Paulo Dybala, the hero of Juve's midweek Champions League win over Lokomotiv Moscow, had not long earlier opened the scoring with a spot kick of his own.

But there was no late saviour for Sarri's men on this occasion, the loss of Miralem Pjanic to a muscle problem compounding a result that will force them back into second place if Inter beat Parma later on Saturday.

Juve felt aggrieved not to be awarded an early penalty for Panagiotis Tachtsidis' trip on Emre Can.

Further appeals were waved away when Danilo went down under close attention from Marco Calderoni.

Gonzalo Higuain did turn home Alex Sandro's angled drive in the 15th minute, but the goal was disallowed for offside following a VAR review.

The striker then guided a low shot across the face before Lecce goalkeeper Gabriel denied Dybala amid sustained Juve pressure.

There was no stopping the Argentina international from 12 yards five minutes after the interval, referee Paolo Valeri having finally pointed to the spot after replays confirmed Jacopo Petriccione's challenge on Pjanic took place in the box.

A second spot-kick quickly followed as Calderoni's cross from the left fizzed against De Ligt's arm.

Lecce captain Mancosu made no mistake and the Bianconeri's problems soon grew greater, with Federico Bernardeschi's failure to score after rounding Gabriel preceding Pjanic's forced withdrawal.

An injury issue for Mancosu effectively left Lecce, who had used up their substitutes, to defend with 10 men for the final 15 minutes.

But Leonardo Bonucci's errant volley was the closest Juve came to capitalising, the point ultimately edging them two ahead of second-placed Inter.

 

Miralem Pjanic limped off midway through Juventus' Serie A game at Lecce on Saturday with a suspected hamstring injury.

The playmaker pulled up sharply before requiring medical attention and left the field very gingerly 67 minutes in.

Serie A champions had been pegged back to 1-1 after Marco Mancosu's 56th-minute penalty cancelled out Paulo Dybala's own successful conversion from 12 yards.

Pjanic has featured in every competitive game for Juventus this season, proving himself to be pivotal during the early stages of Maurizio Sarri's reign.

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