Parma's game against SPAL proceeded on Sunday despite confusion before kick-off, when it appeared Serie A could be suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Players from both teams were in the tunnel at the Ennio Tardini but were ordered back into the changing rooms to await a final decision over whether the match would go ahead.

Kick-off was initially delayed by half an hour before being rescheduled for 13:45 local time (12:45 GMT), over an hour after the intended start time.

The incident came about as Italian authorities apparently considered whether all Serie A matches should be cancelled amid the ongoing spread of the virus in the country.

Speaking on Sunday, Italy's minister for sport Vincenzo Spadafora confirmed he was recommending an immediate halt to the top-flight season.

He said: "It makes no sense right now, as we ask citizens to make huge sacrifices to prevent the spread of the disease, to put at risk the health of players, referees, coaches and fans, who will surely gather together to watch the games, just to protect the interests that revolve around the sport.

"Other federations have wisely decided to suspend football for the next few days. I think it is the duty of the FIGC [the Italian Football Federation] president, Gabriele Gravina, to reflect again, without waiting for the first case of a Serie A player to be infected, before taking on this very serious responsibility."

Authorities had already ordered all sporting events to be played behind closed doors until at least the start of April to limit the risk of infection.

On Saturday, the Italian government locked down the northern region of Lombardy in an attempt to contain the proliferation of COVID-19, which has infected 5,883 people in the country and claimed 234 lives.

People face fines if they are caught entering or leaving the region unless they have a serious reason to do so. All public events, including weddings and funerals, have been banned.

Valencia's Champions League last-16 second leg at home to Atalanta is due to be played on Tuesday without fans present at Mestalla, while traditional pre-match media duties have been cancelled.

Speaking last week, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin insisted it is not the right time to consider "dark scenarios" such as postponing domestic and European competitions or the Euro 2020 finals this year.

"We are dealing with it and we are confident we can deal with it," Ceferin said. "You don't know how many big concerns we have: we have security concerns, political instability and one is also the virus.

"Let's try to be optimistic, not think about dark scenarios – there's time for that later."

Lazio went top of Serie A for the first time in a decade on Saturday, leapfrogging Juventus with a 2-0 victory over Bologna.

Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa scored within three first-half minutes as Lazio's unbeaten run was extended to 21 league matches.

Bologna had two goals disallowed by VAR but Lazio would not be denied as they moved top of the table for the first time since 2010-11, when they led after 10 games.

Simone Inzaghi's men will end the weekend at the summit too after Juventus' clash with Inter, which was due to take place on Sunday, was postponed amid ongoing fears over the spread of the coronavirus in Italy.

Lazio have not won the league title in two decades and the last time anyone other than Juve lifted the Scudetto was in 2010-11 when Milan finished top.

Italy prime minister Giuseppe Conte revealed all of Serie A's Week 26 fixtures, including the blockbuster showdown between Juventus and Inter, could be postponed due to coronavirus fears.

The outbreak of coronavirus in Italy forced four top-flight matches to be postponed over the weekend, including Sunday's clash between Scudetto hopefuls Inter and Sampdoria.

Italy's move came as part of preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19 which originated in China, after two people died and dozens more reportedly tested positive.

Now, upcoming fixtures across Italy's leagues are in doubt, with Serie A leaders Juve scheduled to host Inter in Turin on March 1.

"I don't think that in just one week we'd be able to slow down the contagion so much that we could resume sporting events," Conte told Rai.

"We are constantly monitoring the situation and will evaluate. We'll see the evolution of the contagion and evaluate postponing all next week's matches."

Juve are a point clear atop the table following Saturday's 2-1 victory away at bottom side SPAL.

Cristiano Ronaldo marked his 1,000th career appearance with a goal, scoring in an 11th consecutive top-flight match – matching a feat previously achieved by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.

In-form Lazio were also in action on Saturday and edged Genoa 3-2 to extend their unbeaten streak to 20 games, while Inter are six points off the pace with a game in hand.

Riccardo Orsolini is worth at least €70million amid reported interest from Juventus, according to Bologna sporting director Walter Sabatini.

Orsolini, 23, joined Bologna on loan from Juve in January 2018 before that move was made permanent ahead of this season.

The attacker has scored seven goals and provided four assists in 23 Serie A games this season, leading to reports Juve may be interested in bringing him back to Turin.

Amid talk Orsolini could return to Juve for €25m, Sabatini insisted there was no buy-back clause and said the one-time Italy international was worth almost triple that.

"I give Orsolini a value of not less than €70m," he told Etv on Monday.

"I repeat that he will not leave. He is followed by the national team like so many others and I think good news is coming to Coverciano [Italy's headquarters].

"I hope he can go to the European Championship, but [Italy coach Roberto] Mancini doesn't need my advice."

Bologna are seventh in Serie A and host Genoa on Saturday.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will bring a winning mentality back to Milan, according to Sampdoria coach Claudio Ranieri.

Ibrahimovic has returned to Milan for a second spell with the Serie A club after leaving Los Angeles Galaxy.

The 38-year-old spent 18 months with the Galaxy, scoring 53 Major League Soccer goals, and was linked to numerous clubs before settling on a return to San Siro, with Milan languishing in 11th place.

Having signed a deal until the end of the season, with an option for 2020-21, Ibrahimovic is likely to make his second Milan debut when the Rossoneri take on struggling Sampdoria on Monday, and Ranieri has no doubt the veteran forward will be a fantastic addition.

"I hope to start 2020 with a great performance and some points, although facing Ibrahimovic is never a good start to a year!" Ranieri said during a news conference on Saturday.

"Milan have a lot of quality players, so their current position in the table is inexplicable. They'll feel enthusiastic and Ibrahimovic brings a winning mentality.

"I am absolutely certain Ibra will play, probably from the start. San Siro will be fired up, so we require cool heads."

Bologna were one of the other Serie A sides interested in Ibrahimovic and their coach Sinisa Mihajlovic believes his club would have been a better fit for the former Sweden international.

"It is disappointing, because I think he’d have had more fun here," Bologna coach Mihajlovic told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine Sportweek.

"It would've been good for him, for the city and the club, with the team playing to help set him up for goals. I have no complaints, because he had said that if he'd chosen Bologna, it would've been for me. I realise there are other factors at stake, including family commitments.

"Ibra did call me before making his decision, so he kept his word and remains a dear friend. It just means I'll have to beat him on the pitch now."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be joining Bologna, according to the club's director Walter Sabatini.

Ibrahimovic had been linked with a return to Serie A via Bologna after leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy at the end of his contract.

But the 38-year-old striker will not be moving to Bologna amid speculation over a switch to either Napoli or former club Milan.

"Ibrahimovic will not be coming to Bologna. He has made other choices," Sabatini told Tuttomercatoweb.

A return to Milan has been mooted for Ibrahimovic, who won the 2011 Scudetto during his two years at San Siro.

Italian rivals Napoli, however, have reportedly offered the ex-Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain star an 18-month contract.

Asked about Ibrahimovic on the eve of Napoli's Champions League clash with Genk, head coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters on Monday: "I haven't spoken to Ibra today but I did yesterday [Sunday] evening."

"He told me he is in Los Angeles at the moment," added Ancelotti. "He feels really good and weather conditions are just perfect there."

Milan coach Stefano Pioli said he was so overcome with emotion following Sinisa Mihajlovic's return to the Bologna bench on Sunday that he just wanted to hug his opposite number.

Mihajlovic was back on the touchline for the first time since a bone marrow transplant last month, having been diagnosed with leukaemia earlier in the year.

Bologna were unable to make Mihajlovic's return a victorious one, however, as Milan claimed a slender 3-2 win despite Nicola Sansone's late penalty leading to a tense finish.

But Pioli spoke with more enthusiasm about Mihajlovic than he did Milan's performance.

"It was a real pleasure to see him," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. "I wanted to hug him, but he said it was better not to [due to his condition]. But it was still exciting, a nice moment.

"I hope he is on the way to full recovery now. Having that moment together touched me, it really did."

Krzysztof Piatek wore an expression of relief after he ended a goal drought that stretched back almost two months, opening the scoring with an early penalty after he had been tripped, and Pioli hopes that will help the Poland international's state of mind.

"He was a fundamental point of reference for us today," Pioli said of Piatek. "He won many duels and made an important impact for the team.

"We predicted Bologna would press high up the pitch, so we thought we'd have to play direct and he held the play up very well. He too will come out of this with more confidence."

Theo Hernandez endured a mixed match, becoming the first player since Opta records began to score a goal, an own goal and concede a penalty in the same Serie A game, with Giacomo Bonaventura's strike ultimately proving crucial as Milan took home the points.

Despite there being more negatives than positives about the defender's display, Pioli was mostly pleased.

"Especially in the offensive phase, Theo is very strong," Pioli remarked. "He has great timing of his forward runs, is strong physically and has a great left foot.

"He is the sort of player that can disrupt defensive balance in the opposition if he's got space to run into ahead of him."

Milan secured successive Serie A wins for only the second time this season as they won 3-2 away to Bologna, who had coach Sinisa Mihajlovic back on the bench for the first time since his bone marrow transplant last month.

Mihajlovic, who was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier in the year, received a huge ovation as he walked out pre-match, though his presence was not enough to inspire Bologna to a first league win over Milan since January 2016.

Milan's opening goal will have come as a relief to Krzysztof Piatek as the Poland international scored his first club goal for almost two months from the spot, before Theo Hernandez netted one at either end to put Bologna back in contention.

They were soon trailing by two once again in the second half thanks to Giacomo Bonaventura's sumptuous strike and that proved decisive, giving Bologna too much to do despite Nicola Sansone's late penalty restoring a modicum of hope.

Piatek ended his goal drought from the spot in the 15th minute, converting after being sent tumbling by Bologna defender Mattia Bani.

The hosts failed to mount much of a response and found their task made even trickier just past the half-hour mark, Hernandez beating the goalkeeper from close range after collecting Suso's wonderful disguised pass.

Hernandez found the wrong net late in the half, however, directing a corner past Gianluigi Donnarumma after Stefano Denswil had ducked under the ball.

But any hope of a Bologna comeback was effectively ended within a minute of the second half starting, as Bonaventura curled a fine effort into the left side of the goal from 20 yards.

Sansone's penalty – given after a VAR review – in the 84th minute following Hernandez' clumsy foul on Riccardo Orsolini ensured it was a nervous ending for Milan, but the visitors held on.

Rumoured Milan, Napoli and Bologna target Zlatan Ibrahimovic would "increase the appeal" of Serie A, according to Mino Raiola, though his agent insisted a return to Italy is not a foregone conclusion.

Ibrahimovic is a free agent after leaving LA Galaxy following two seasons in MLS, and the former Juventus, Inter and Milan striker hinted he was heading back to Serie A when he said "see you soon in Italy" earlier this week.

However, Ibrahimovic's agent stressed his client could still join a club in another country

"It's not been said that he will necessarily return to Italy," Raiola told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Which of the three interested clubs will he choose? Who knows, we're all free men.

"Could he retire? I'm not going to exclude anything but it is very unlikely. Ibra is still very well."

I came, I saw, I conquered. Thank you @lagalaxy for making me feel alive again. To the Galaxy fans - you wanted Zlatan, I gave you Zlatan. You are welcome. The story continues...Now go back to watch baseball pic.twitter.com/kkL6B6dJBr

— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) November 13, 2019

The 38-year-old Swede certainly helped enhance MLS during his two years Stateside, and Raiola feels he would have a similar impact in Italy, should that be his chosen destination.

"Certainly if he returned, the appeal of Serie A would increase, both technically and on television," Raiola added.

"How many countries would turn on the TV every weekend?"

Ibrahimovic spent two seasons with Juventus, three campaigns with Inter and two years with Milan, scoring a combined 122 goals across 219 appearances.

He was part of title-winning teams with all three clubs, though Juventus' two championships in that time were later revoked due to the Calciopoli scandal.

Out-of-sorts striker Krzysztof Piatek is not the root of Milan's problems, according to head coach Stefano Pioli.

Piatek joined Milan 11 months ago from Genoa and made an instant impression, scoring seven times in his first six games.

The Polish star finished the 2018-19 campaign with 22 Serie A goals, but he has struggled to hit those heights this season, finding the net just three times and failing to score in six successive matches.

Milan, down in 11th in the table, have struggled as a result, but Pioli feels their issues are collective, rather than individual.

"There is no Piatek problem," he said at a news conference to preview Sunday's game against Bologna.

"There is a Milan that is playing well, that is working hard to climb out of this slump, a team that knows we need to do more."

Pioli feels he has no like-for-like replacements for Piatek in his squad as he considers talented 20-year-old Rafael Leao a different type of forward.

"If Piatek plays tomorrow that is because I've decided he is important for our team," Pioli added.

"If he plays like he did against Parma [in last week's 1-0 away win], it means he will have had a good game, like the rest of the team.

"Each player brings their own characteristics; Piatek is a striker, a poacher, Leao is a movement striker. There are many ways to play but the important thing is the characteristics on the field match up.

"The individual isn't important; we don't have anyone like [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo - that means we have to work as a team."

With Piatek unable to replicate last season's form, Milan have been linked with a reunion with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is available on a free as he leaves MLS side LA Galaxy.

Asked if he wanted Ibrahimovic to sign as an early Christmas present, Pioli replied: "Christmas comes on December 25 but you've been talking about these things from November.

"If I was to think about a present for now, I'd want the three points for tomorrow."

Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti denied his squad have turned against him after the club's winless streak extended to eight matches.

Sunday's shock 2-1 Serie A loss at home to Bologna left Napoli without a victory in all competitions since October 23.

The pressure is mounting on Ancelotti as Napoli – runners-up last term – languish seventh in Serie A, 17 points behind leaders Inter and eight adrift of the Champions League places.

Napoli's woes come amid internal problems, with owner Aurelio De Laurentiis looking to impose fines on players who deserted a recent training retreat.

Speaking after Bologna attacker Nicola Sansone's 80th-minute goal condemned Napoli to defeat, Ancelotti – who has been linked to Arsenal – told reporters: "The team is against the coach, they say. But it isn't so.

"I have an excellent relationship with the squad. No one has ever failed to respect me. I don't see any friction between the players and us.

"We exchange ideas every day, the situation must be resolved quickly, because we are failing badly."

Napoli, who claimed a 1-1 draw against Champions League holders Liverpool on Wednesday, have lost two and drawn six of their past eight games.

"It's not a problem of tactics, more of an attitude problem," Ancelotti said. "Three days ago we showed great solidity against Liverpool, and we played with three midfielders.

"We have conceded many goals, it's true, we need solidity, but it is the mental aspect that must be improved by taking even a smidgen of responsibility.

"The fans are disappointed and I can only agree with them. I must be more lucid in order to resolve this situation."

The battle for Jadon Sancho's signature looks set to begin.

Four high-profile clubs in England and Spain are reportedly monitoring the teenager, one of Europe's brightest prospects.

Aggrieved with recent events at Borussia Dortmund, Sancho could now seek a new home for next season.

 

TOP STORY – CLUBS QUEUE UP FOR 'SCAPEGOAT' SANCHO

Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid are the "leading quartet" of suitors for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to The Athletic.

Former club Manchester City have also asked to be "kept informed" following a string of events that have upset the 19-year-old England winger, notably his first-half substitution in the 4-0 Klassiker loss to Bayern Munich earlier this month.

Sancho's representatives are said to have deemed that move "disgraceful", paving the way for his Dortmund departure at the end of the Bundesliga season.

 

ROUND-UP

Paul Pogba's prolonged absence for Manchester United is part of a concerted effort to force through a January transfer to LaLiga giants Madrid, claims Spanish journalist Paco Gonzalez. Pogba, not sighted since September, is recovering from an ankle injury.

- According to Calciomercato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is weighing up a move to AC Milan. The 38-year-old is available on a free transfer after leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy. Ibrahimovic has been linked to Bologna, Tottenham, Napoli and Perth Glory.

West Ham are considering replacing Manuel Pellegrini with Chris Wilder, reports The Mirror. The Hammers are languishing 16th in the Premier League after 13 games, while Wilder's Sheffield United are riding high in sixth. Chris HughtonDavid Moyes and Rafael Benitez are reportedly among the other candidates should West Ham lose patience with Pellegrini.

- Wolves defender Owen Otasowie is wanted by Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Bundesliga team Schalke, reports The Sun. 18-year-old centre-back has also been watched by Liverpool and Arsenal.

- The Mirror reports Aston Villa are leading the race to sign Rhian Brewster on loan in January. Brewster, 19, has been unable to break his way into Liverpool's Premier League plans this term. The report states Villa face competition from Crystal PalaceLeeds United and Swansea City.

Are we about to see a Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic reunion?

Mourinho and Ibrahimovic worked together at Inter, before the Portuguese manager brought the Swedish star to Manchester United in 2016.

Now, new Tottenham boss Mourinho is reportedly eyeing the 38-year-old striker.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO TARGETING IBRA

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho is poised to make a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to the Telegraph.

Ibrahimovic is on the lookout for a new club after opting to leave MLS outfit LA Galaxy following two seasons in the United States.

The 38-year-old has been linked to AC Milan, Bologna, Napoli, Manchester United and Australian team Perth Glory; however, Mourinho reportedly wants to reunite with Ibrahimovic at Tottenham.

 

ROUND-UP

- Spanish newspaper Sport reports a close friend of Flamengo coach Jorge Jesus predicting he will get the Barcelona job if his side win Saturday's Copa Libertadores final against River Plate, who are led by another reputed Catalan target in Marcelo Gallardo. Ernesto Valverde is under pressure at the LaLiga champions.

Real Madrid are set to open talks with star striker Karim Benzema over a new contract, Marca reports. The 31-year-old's current deal expires in 2021.

- Out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic is wanted by LaLiga's Atletico Madrid, according to ESPN FC. Matic has struggled for game time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with AC Milan and Inter also interested.

- With Tottenham reportedly looking to hijack AC Milan's pursuit of Ibrahimovic, Sky Sport Italia says the Rossoneri are rivalling Inter and Borussia Dortmund for Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud.

- The Daily Mail reports that Leicester City have opened talks with James Maddison over a new contract. The 22-year-old England international has been heavily linked to Manchester United.

- Partizan Belgrade sensation Strahinja Pavlovic is on the verge of joining Ligue 1 outfit Monaco. Sportski Zurnal says the 18-year-old defender has undergone a medical ahead of a €10million transfer plus add-ons.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has informed Bologna of his willingness to consider joining them in January, according to the Serie A side's sporting director Riccardo Bigon.

Ibrahimovic this week confirmed his departure from LA Galaxy after two seasons in MLS.

The 38-year-old intends to see out his career in Italy, Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto claimed, and will not be short on options given his free agent status.

AC Milan, Fiorentina and Napoli are among those to have been linked but Bologna could have the inside running thanks to Ibrahimovic's rapport with Rossoblu boss Sinisa Mihajlovic, who crossed paths with the Swede at Inter.

"There is a month and a half to go until to the transfer window opens," Bigon told Sky Sport Italia.

"As has been said, Ibrahimovic and the coach have a strong personal relationship.

"He expressed an openness to the idea of ​​coming to Bologna but now he will take time, after announcing the farewell to MLS, to evaluate all the possibilities for his future.

"We are very fascinated by this situation but it is clear that we do not control it 100 per cent.

"The choice is exclusively down to the player. We will wait in case [Ibrahimovic confirms his interest], then we will be ready and more than positive."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic wants to see out his career in Italy, according to LA Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

Ibrahimovic revealed on Wednesday that he will not be renewing his contract with MLS side the Galaxy, where the 38-year-old arrived from Manchester United in 2018.

The ex-Paris Saint-Germain striker has been strongly linked with a return to Europe, with MLS commissioner Don Garber last week suggesting former club AC Milan are the frontrunners to re-sign the soon-to-be free agent.

Napoli, Bologna and Roma have also been touted as possible options for the former Sweden international should he return to Serie A, while A-League team Perth Glory have confirmed their interest in bringing Ibrahimovic to Australia on a guest deal.

Asked about Ibrahimovic's future, Galaxy boss Schelotto told Radio Kiss Kiss: "He does not know what he will do now.

"He is a wonderful player, but I don't know what his next step will be - perhaps he'll finish his career in Naples or with Milan. 

"I don't know where he will go but he deserves and wants to finish his career in Italy."

Ibrahimovic spent two seasons with Milan – winning the Serie A and Supercoppa Italiana – before leaving in 2012 for French giants PSG, where he worked under current Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti.

"They know each other well," Schelotto said. "Zlatan evidently has the characteristics that Napoli needs."

Page 1 of 3
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.