Fiorentina sealed their place in the Coppa Italia final after a 0-0 draw against Cremonese on Thursday at Stadio Artemio Franchi, securing a 2-0 aggregate win.

A frantic start to the game did not lead to any goals, with few clear-cut chances for either team despite the pace of the play in the first half.

It took until the 73rd minute for Cremonese to have anything that could be called a chance, with Charles Pickel seeing a close-range header closed down by Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano.

Nicolas Gonzalez curled a shot wide at the other end moments later, but on the whole, it was a match devoid of any serious opportunities.

The hosts hit the target just once from 13 attempts, while Cremonese could only muster two shots at all as Vincenzo Italiano's men comfortably kept them at bay.

Fiorentina will be hoping to rediscover the form that recently saw them win 10 games in a row, having not claimed victory in four, but have almost a month to prepare for Inter, when they will look to lift their seventh Coppa Italia.

La Viola will face the Nerazzurri in the final on May 24 after Simone Inzaghi's men dumped out Juventus in the other semi-final on Wednesday.

Fiorentina have one foot in the Coppa Italia final after a dominant away performance saw them record a 2-0 win against ten-men Cremonese in the first leg of the semi-final. 

Arthur Cabral's header and Nicolas Gonzalez's penalty wrapped up a comfortable victory for La Viola, who are now unbeaten in their last 11 games in all competitions. 

Fiorentina were much the better team in the first half and took a deserved lead when Cabral rose highest to head home Cristiano Biraghi's cross in the 20th minute. 

Gonzalez should have doubled his side's lead before the break, but the winger saw his close-range header expertly saved by Mouhamadou Sarr's save.

Half-time substitute Cyriel Dessers forced a good save from Pietro Terracciano but Fiorentina found their second when Gonzalez slotted home from the spot after Cabral's effort was blocked by Emanuel Aiwu's hand, with the centre-back sent off after a VAR check. 

Vincenzo Italiano's side take their two-goal advantage into the second leg, with the fixture taking place on April 27 at the Artemio Franchi Stadium.

Simone Inzaghi did not hide his frustration at Romelu Lukaku's struggles in front of goal after Inter lost 1-0 to Fiorentina on Saturday.

Inter's losing streak in Serie A was extended to their worst in six years as Giacomo Bonaventura's second-half header proved decisive at San Siro.

The Nerazzurri have now lost three straight top flight matches, with Bonaventura's winner coming shortly after a woeful miss from Lukaku.

Having rediscovered his goalscoring touch while on international duty with Belgium, Lukaku was unable to transfer that form across to his club side as he failed to hit the target from close range with the goal gaping.

No Inter player had more shots than his three, with Lukaku not managing to get any of them on target, despite accumulating 1.2 expected goals.

While not pinning the blame entirely on Lukaku – who is reported to have confronted Inzaghi about a lack of opportunities while he has been fit this season – Inter's coach was quick to point out the importance of those misses.

Speaking to DAZN, Inzaghi said: "If he had scored those chances, Lukaku's performance would be judged in a very different way.

"His role is to create the opportunities, make the movements that the team needs.

"He wasn't the only one who had chances today, so I wouldn't focus only on Romelu."

Inzaghi also stressed he is ultimately responsible for turning Inter's fortunes around. 

"There is great disappointment, we lost two consecutive home matches," he said. "We need to work more, starting with me.

"At the moment, we need to be more determined, because we had so many chances to score and we should have done.

"I cannot ask for more in terms of effort, as the players did everything I asked of them."

Inzaghi is not wrong. While Fiorentina had more shots (19 to 16) and got the same number of attempts on target (three each), Inter finished with a 2.8 xG compared to the visitors' 1.2, suggesting the quality of opportunities that went their way was far greater.

Lukaku's glaring miss came from by far the best opportunity of the match, with Opta's model estimating the chance would be converted 92 per cent of the time (0.92 xG).

The 29-year-old's future is uncertain. He is on loan at Inter, but due to return to parent club Chelsea at the end of the season.

Before the match, Inter chief Giuseppe Marotta told DAZN: "[Lukaku's] love for the Inter jersey is 10 out of 10, we'll evaluate the prospects with Chelsea."

Inter's losing streak extended to their worst in Serie A in six years with a 1-0 defeat to Fiorentina at San Siro on Saturday.

Giacomo Bonaventura's second-half header was enough to down Simone Inzaghi's side, inflicting a third consecutive defeat upon the Nerazzurri.

The game's only goal came shortly after a woeful miss from Romelu Lukaku, failing to hit the target with the goal gaping from inside the six-yard box.

Inter came closest to an equaliser when Nicolo Barella struck the crossbar from long range but failed to restore parity and suffered their 10th league defeat of the season.

Andre Onana was called into action with a diving save to keep out Gaetano Castrovilli's bouncing volley, the goalkeeper then staying alert to the danger to quickly punch away the loose ball before Arthur Cabral could pounce on the rebound.

Fiorentina's Jonathan Ikone had the best chance of the half seven minutes before the interval with the goal at his mercy but failed to connect with the ball after Riccardo Saponara's scuffed shot fell into his path.

After the break, it was Inter's turn to spurn a glorious opportunity, Lukaku just yards from goal with Pietro Terracciano out of the picture but only able to slice a poor effort wide of the mark after Alessandro Bastoni put the ball on a plate for the striker.

Inter were made to pay for that missed chance, Cabral flicking on a corner at the near post that Onana palmed away, only for Bonaventura to nod in the rebound and give the visitors the lead.

Barella led Inter's search for an equaliser, firing a ferocious effort at goal that had Terracciano beaten but cannoned back off the crossbar, with later appeals for a penalty for a foul on Lautaro Martinez waved away and the referee's decision upheld after a VAR check.

Chelsea have underwhelmed this season and may look to offload players to ensure they meet financial fair play requirements, but could Reece James really leave Stamford Bridge?

The Blues have spent big money over the past 10 months since Todd Boehly took over ownership from Roman Abramovich.

Enzo Fernandez, Wesley Fofana, Mykhailo Mudryk, Marc Cucurella, Raheem Sterling, Benoit Badiashile, Kalidou Koulibaly, Noni Madueke and Malo Gusto were all signed in lucrative moves.

TOP STORY – MADRID CONSIDER SHOCK MOVE FOR CHELSEA'S JAMES

Real Madrid are plotting a shock swoop to sign Chelsea full-back Reece James as the Blues plan a clean-out, claims AS.

James, 23, is contracted with the Blues until 2028, making any deal complicated, but Los Blancos are reportedly hoping Chelsea's need to balance the books can work in their favour.

Madrid previously landed Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard from Chelsea, albeit in different circumstances with both only having shorter terms remaining on their contracts.

AS claims Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham remains Real's priority signing.

ROUND-UP

– The Evening Standard claims Arsenal are making West Ham midfielder Declan Rice a transfer priority, amid plenty of interest from Premier League clubs. Rice is expected to leave the Hammers at the end of this season, with ChelseaManchester City and Manchester United also reportedly in the hunt.

– Manchester United are keeping an eye on Eintracht Frankfurt's Randal Kolo Muani and Atalanta's Rasmus Hojlund should their advances for Tottenham's Harry Kane fail, claims the Manchester Evening News.

– Fiorentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat is eager for a move to Barcelona, claims Footmercato. The Blaugrana had interest in the Moroccan during the last transfer window.

– Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have lodged initial bids for 16-year-old Hajduk Split defender Luka Vuskovic, according to 90min.

– Footmercato reports Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is set to sign a new five-year contract with Napoli, having been linked with PSG recently.

– El Chiringuito claims Manchester City are eyeing a move for ex-Spain boss Luis Enrique amid talk Pep Guardiola could opt for a sabbatical at the end of the season.

Top Premier League clubs Manchester United, Newcastle United and Chelsea are said to be monitoring Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele ahead of his release clause activating.

Dembele is in his sixth season with Barcelona, having racked up a total of 40 goals in his 178 appearances.

He remained a first-team regular to start this campaign, with 14 starts from his 18 LaLiga appearances, before suffering a serious hamstring injury in late January.

The France international is yet to return nearly two months later, but despite his troubling physical problems, England's elite believe he could represent terrific value due to his contract situation.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA'S DEMBELE AVAILABLE AT A DISCOUNT

Dembele was purchased from Borussia Dortmund for €105million plus add-ons back in 2017, but according to Calciomercato he will be available for just €50m (£44m) in the upcoming transfer window.

His contract is set to expire after one more season, and if the club do not secure a long-term extension, Dembele will have his release clause activated.

The €50m figure is said to be more than enticing to England's wealthy clubs, as it is considered a bargain compared to the going rate for other world-class wingers.

Serie A giants Juventus and Inter are also said to be fans of Dembele's, but the price tag is too rich for their current financial situation unless they sell some players to raise funds.

 

ROUND-UP

– Foot Mercato is reporting Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi is considering a move back to Barcelona next season, with his father said to be in regular communication with the club.

Real Madrid are monitoring 29-year-old Tottenham striker Harry Kane as a potential successor to Karim Benzema, per the Daily Mail.

– According to Calciomercato, Barcelona and Tottenham are both fans of 26-year-old Fiorentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, who is expected to leave the club in the upcoming transfer window.

– Goal is reporting Brighton and Hove Albion are prepared to make 25-year-old winger Kaoru Mitoma the highest earner in club history, in order to fend off interest from Real Madrid, Manchester City and Arsenal.

– Former player Jose Enrique revealed on his live stream that Liverpool have agreed to terms for 20-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch, who Enrique shares an agent with.

West Ham will face Gent in the Europa Conference League quarter-finals as they bid to reach a European semi-final for the second straight year.

The Hammers made it to the Europa League final four last season, suffering a heartbreaking 3-1 aggregate defeat to eventual champions Eintracht Frankfurt.

But they thumped Cypriot side AEK Larnaca 4-0 at home on Thursday to seal a 6-0 aggregate win, before being matched with Belgian club Gent in Friday's quarter-final draw.

If they can get past Gent, David Moyes' men will face either AZ or Anderlecht to reach the final on June 7 after those two were pitted against each other in the last eight.

AZ have avoided defeat in seven of their last eight European clashes with Belgian opponents, with Anderlecht looking to win their first game against the Eredivisie side in three attempts having lost their previous two meetings.

On the other side of the draw, Lech Poznan stand between Fiorentina and their first European semi-final since the 2014-15 season.

History does not bode well for Poznan, with Fiorentina winning four of their six encounters with Polish clubs in European competitions.

The winner of that tie will play either Basel or Nice to see who will take their place in the showpiece match in Prague's Fortuna Arena.

The first legs of the quarter-finals will be played on April 13 before the return fixtures on April 20.

Stefano Pioli insisted Milan did not already have their eyes on their Champions League clash with Tottenham after a deserved defeat at Fiorentina.

Milan saw a three-game winning run in Serie A come to an abrupt end after Nicolas Gonzalez and Luka Jovic inflicted a 2-1 defeat, despite Theo Hernandez's well-taken late strike on Saturday.

That left the Rossoneri's top-four hopes in danger with fifth-placed Roma able to move level on points with victory at home to Juventus on Sunday.

Milan visit Tottenham with a slender 1-0 lead ahead of the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on Wednesday, though Pioli refused suggestions that match impacted the Rossoneri at Fiorentina.

When asked by Sky Sport Italia if Milan were already thinking about Tottenham, Pioli said: "No no no, that was absolutely not the case.

"Fiorentina played better than us, but not because we were thinking of Tottenham.

"We never thought of Tottenham. We had to do things better. It was a defeat that we didn't want."

Milan had reeled off four straight wins across all competitions without conceding, aiming for just a fifth instance in their history of winning five in a row without their defence being breached.

That never came to fruition after Fiorentina were in the ascendancy from the start at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, where Pioli acknowledged Milan were slow to get going.

"We prepared the match as if it were very important. Fiorentina did better than us in the first half in terms of quality and energy," he added.

"We did better in the second half but the first half was not played well and we were punished."

Only Cremonese, Sampdoria and Salernitana (all six) have lost more Serie A matches than Milan's four in 2023, though Pioli expects the Rossoneri to respond when they travel to Tottenham.

"It will be a different match because tonight's match doesn't count," he continued. "It will be two teams that will play at their best; Milan will certainly be ready."

Milan saw their Serie A top-four hopes dealt a blow after Nicolas Gonzalez and Luka Jovic proved the difference in a 2-1 win for Fiorentina on Saturday.

Stefano Pioli's side had reeled off three straight league wins but came unstuck at Stadio Artemio Franchi with an underwhelming display.

Gonzalez's 49th-minute penalty was no less than Vincenzo Italiano's hosts deserved before substitute Jovic put the game beyond Milan, despite Theo Hernandez's stoppage-time strike.

Defeat left Pioli's men 18 points adrift of runaway leaders Napoli and looking over their shoulders at fifth-placed Roma, who could move level with victory against Juventus on Sunday.

Fiorentina were unable to reap the rewards of their first-half dominance against a Milan defence that had not conceded since February 5.

Giacomo Bonaventura was a constant threat against his former side, with Mike Maignan pushing away his free-kick and Fikayo Tomori clearing the midfielder's bobbling close-range finish off the line.

Milan offered little in response yet Pietro Terracciano still had to be alert to thwart Olivier Giroud's inventive left-footed volley.

Fiorentina's pressure told after the interval, though. Tomori dragged down Jonathan Ikone inside the area and Gonzalez rolled into the bottom-right corner from 12 yards.

An apparent Arthur Cabral handball seemed to offer Milan late hope, but the referee overturned his original penalty decision.

Jovic then headed in from Dodo's right-wing cross soon after, rendering Hernandez's subsequent thumping left-footed effort a mere consolation in a disappointing Milan defeat.

Stefano Pioli credited Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his influence on Milan's squad as he suggested the fit-again striker will soon be able to make his first start of the season.

Having undergone anterior cruciate ligament surgery shortly after helping Milan end an 11-year wait to win the Scudetto last May, Ibrahimovic made his first appearance of the campaign last week.

Ibrahimovic entered the fray as a substitute as Milan beat fellow top-four contenders Atalanta 2-0 at San Siro, recording their fourth consecutive victory without conceding across all competitions.

Asked what kind of involvement Ibrahimovic may have when Milan visit Fiorentina on Saturday, Pioli said: "Not full playing time, but he will soon be able to start. 

"Zlatan is Zlatan, it's his strength, his return is important. In training with him or without him, there's definitely a difference."

 

Milan are looking to win five successive games without conceding for just the fifth time in their history on Saturday, having last done so in 2018 under Gennaro Gattuso.

The Rossoneri's run represents a remarkable turnaround after they went seven matches without winning shortly after the World Cup, a downturn which saw them drop out of Serie A's top four and exit the Coppa Italia.

The more positive mood emerging at San Siro has been helped by the returns of Ibrahimovic and goalkeeper Mike Maignan, but Pioli puts their recent improvement down to others stepping up.

"There's more to it [than the returns of Ibrahimovic and Maignan]" Pioli said. "There's the work and the quality of the players. Then we're talking about players who raise the level of the team.

"It's time to give continuity. We are the ones who can influence our performances to achieve positive results, we must play with great attention and great determination. 

"With more players we are stronger, tomorrow [Ismael] Bennacer, [Davide] Calabria and [Alessandro] Florenzi will return."

Chelsea have continued to struggle in recent weeks despite their busy transfer activity during the January window.

The Blues have failed to score in their past three games, all defeats, and won only once in their past 11 games in all competitions.

Chelsea have only scored four goals in those 11 games this calendar year, with the situation putting pressure on new manager Graham Potter.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO TURN TO TAMMY

Chelsea could turn to former striker Tammy Abraham from Roma in the off-season, according to Football Insider.

There is a £70.5million (€80m) clause in Abraham's Roma contract that would allow the Blues to bring him back to Stamford Bridge which they intend to trigger, according to the report.

Chelsea have struggled for goals lately and view Abraham as a cheaper alternative to Napoli's Victor Osimhen.

 

ROUND-UP

– L'Equipe reports Kylian Mbappe will still leave Paris Saint-Germain in the near future even if he extends his contract. Mbappe's deal expires next year, but there is talk that PSG are looking to seal an extension for financial purposes.

Arsenal have submitted a £35m (€40m) bid to sign Sergej Milinkovic-Savic from Lazio, claims Calciomercato. Fichajes says the Gunners are also interested in West Ham's Lucas Paqueta as another midfield option.

Real Madrid will rival Barcelona and Chelsea in the pursuit to sign Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, reports Corriere dello Sport.

Barcelona are interested in signing Julian Alvarez from Manchester City on loan, claims Mundo Deportivo, while the English champions have offered him a one-year contract extension until 2028 on improved terms, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Liverpool's plans to overhaul their midfield next season mean they have Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham, Fiorentina's Sofyan Amrabat and Brighton and Hove Albion's Moises Caicedo in their sights, per Fichajes.

– Football Insider reports Liverpool are also monitoring N'Golo Kante's situation at Chelsea with talks ongoing over a contract extension.

Sivasspor coach Riza Calimbay acknowledged it will be tough for Super Lig teams to return to football as his side drew Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League.

Turkey's top flight was suspended in the wake of the February 6 earthquakes that devastated the country and neighbouring Syria, leaving over 50,000 dead.

Having topped Group G in the Europa Conference League last year, Sivasspor bypassed the competition's knockout round play-off phase this month.

But as they prepare for domestic competition to restart this weekend ahead of their return to Europe, Calimbay noted it would be a very different game that emerges.

"It is very difficult to talk after the earthquake," he told the club's website. "Talking about football is very difficult. I think our problems are not over yet.

"We need to start playing football [but] the league will be chaotic, everything will be chaotic. Some matches will not be played. It will be a different league, it will be a sad league.

"Every time we play a match, everyone will have tears. No one can give themselves fully to the game. But our teams that go to Europe, we have to do whatever is necessary to bring points to Turkey."

Sivasspor's fellow Super Lig side Istanbul Basaksehir will also return to Europa Conference League action, having drawn Gent in the last-16 stage.

Elsewhere, Premier League outfit West Ham face off with AEK Larnaca, while Serie A team Lazio will take on AZ after edging out CFR Cluj.

Villarreal take on Anderlecht, with Nice set to square off with Sheriff.

Basel face Slovan Bratislava and Lech Poznan encounter Djurgarden in the remaining ties, with home and away legs set to be played over March 9 and 16.

Europa League last-16 draw in full:

AEK Larnaca v West Ham
Anderlecht v Villarreal
Basel v Slovan Bratislava
Fiorentina v Sivasspor
Gent v Istanbul Basaksehir
Lazio v AZ
Lech Poznan v Djurgarden
Sheriff v Nice

Massimiliano Allegri has defended his Juventus players amid their turbulent Serie A season, arguing they deserve greater respect for their performances.

The Bianconeri edged Fiorentina in a 1-0 win on Sunday, with Adrien Rabiot's first-half finish enough to seal the victory in Turin.

The result comes amid a campaign that has seen Juve's top-four hopes torpedoed by a 15-point sanction handed down for financial mismanagement off the field.

Allegri, who was seen rowing with a fan during the closing stages, feels his players have shouldered unfair blame for a decision outside of their control, and backed them afterwards.

"I am disappointed, because while most of the crowd is helping the team, there are a few who decide a player is poor and jeer [us]," he told DAZN.

"Players like Moise Kean, Mattia De Sciglio, Leandro Paredes. They are Juventus players, and we need all of them.

"I don't like people coming to the stadium ready to jeer. That is disrespectful. By all means jeer when we do badly, but not ahead of time."

The sanction handed down against Juve has left them with a limited shot at both silverware and a place in European competition next year.

Allegri however is not giving up on either front, adding: "The Europa League and the Coppa Italia are objectives, along with climbing back up the table.

"We have to take it one game at a time. It is a new experience, it is interesting to go through, and we're sticking together."

Two goals were chalked off throughout the encounter for marginal offside calls by VAR, against Dusan Vlahovic and Gaetano Castrovilli.

In both instances, the pair saw their efforts denied by a matter of millimetres, to which Allegri called for further alterations to the system.

"I think that is the right way to go," he added to Sky Sport Italia. "We can't have goals disallowed for hair being offside. We'd all have to get the same haircut as me!"

Adrien Rabiot's header was enough to earn Juventus a 1-0 win over Fiorentina that lifted them into the top half of the Serie A table despite some late controversy.

Rabiot scored the winner in the first half of a typically feisty affair between two long-standing rivals at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday, moving the beleaguered Bianconeri up to ninth.

Juve's former Fiorentina pair Dusan Vlahovic and Federico Chiesa started alongside Angel Di Maria for the first time, and the World Cup winner outshone them by teeing up Rabiot's goal in a bright display.

Vlahovic saw an effort chalked off for offside following a VAR review, but Juve will feel that decision was evened out when Gaetano Castrovilli saw a stunning late volley disallowed following a similar intervention.

Chances were at a premium during a heated start, before Filip Kostic squandered a couple of decent openings.

Juve made their superiority count after 34 minutes, however.

A teasing ball from Di Maria was met with a firm header by Rabiot, which Pietro Terracciano could not claw away as goal-line technology confirmed it crept in. 

Vlahovic thought he had scored against Fiorentina for the first time since his acrimonious departure last year when he lobbed Terracciano from Kostic's pass, only to be called offside by the tightest of margins.

Vlahovic's replacement Moise Kean was then thwarted by Terracciano soon after entering the fray, before Luka Jovic almost levelled with a glancing header.

Fiorentina were then denied in contentious circumstances one minute from time, a VAR review deeming Luca Ranieri to have been offside before Castrovilli found the bottom-left corner with a thumping volley from range.

Massimiliano Allegri believes Paul Pogba may be ready to make his long-awaited second Juventus debut in three weeks' time as he builds up his fitness levels.

The France international has yet to feature for the Bianconeri since rejoining the club from Manchester United at the start of the season due to a succession of injury setbacks.

Pogba underwent surgery after sustaining a knee injury during pre-season, forcing him to miss the entire campaign to date as well as the World Cup in Qatar.

Despite returning to the bench for the Serie A defeat by Monza at the end of January, Allegri revealed the midfielder is enduring yet another spell on the sidelines to increase his match fitness.

Speaking ahead of Juve's clash with Fiorentina on Sunday, the head coach said: "Pogba cannot be called up. At the moment, he is in the pits. 

"It's not a new injury he's picked up, but a case of finding his feet and fitness again. He's working hard to get to the point where he's ready to play.

"He is working to be available again. At this moment, I cannot tell you when he will return. Maybe in 20 days, I don't know.

"A normal path, coming from [this sort of injury], is very boring because, until the knee settles, it bothers every now and then. He is working, and he is putting all the effort possible. But at the moment, he is not available."

Meanwhile, Allegri revealed Adrien Rabiot will feature against Fiorentina, but the clash at Allianz Stadium comes too soon for Leonardo Bonucci, who will be available for Thursday's Europa League showdown with Nantes.

The Bianconeri head into the match only two points ahead of Fiorentina due to a 15-point deduction following an investigation into past transfer dealings.

That means they have a mammoth 14 to make up on the top four to qualify for the Champions League through their league position, but the head coach is pleased with the mood within the camp. 

"We need to improve the plays on the verticals, on the diagonals, we have these plays in our feet," Allegri added. "In this, the team is doing well, but we are far from what we can do.

"There is a good harmony knowing that to make results you have to struggle and respect the opponent a lot."

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