Gareth Southgate believes it is an "embarrassment" England is playing next month's Nations League match at home to Italy behind closed doors.

June's Euro 2020 final rematch at the Molineux Stadium will be held without fans in attendance, after UEFA sanctioned the English Football Association for crowd trouble that marred that Wembley loss for Southgate's side.

Fans burst into the stadium without tickets and fought with stewards as England lost in that dramatic penalty shootout, and were given a two-game attendance ban by European football's governing body as a result.

Asked if the FA were given a lenient ruling upon announcing his squad for the upcoming international window, Southgate was blunt on England and English football's reputation.

"Well, we're on a yellow card aren't we, so we are where we are," Southgate said. "We've got the embarrassment now of playing behind closed doors at home.

"Normally when you watch those things having happened abroad, we're all grandstanding about how it's someone else's problem and how this country should be dealt with - and now it's us. That's not a good optic for our country.

"There's clearly a responsibility within football because, when it's in our environment, we've got to do all we can to try to make sure it doesn't happen."

England will play four Nations League fixtures in June, with away trips to Hungary and Germany, before facing Italy and playing out the return fixture with Hungary.

The games come on the back of a recent spate of crowd trouble to mark the end of the English domestic season.

Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp was struck by a fan in their Championship playoff against Nottingham Forest, while Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was involved in a scuffle with a supporter following their loss to Everton. This weekend, Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen was assaulted by a pitch-invading Manchester City supporter.

In response, Southgate has urged for English football to show restraint and avoid changes that can obstruct the matchday experience.  

"We all recognise that, but it's a wider problem," he said. "It's behaviour and a reflection on where we are as a country.

"It's a difficult time for people, we're going to have more difficult times because of the economy and the realities of the situation we're in.

"How do we want to be viewed as a country because that's manifesting itself in football at the moment and that's not a good look. We don't want to go back to fences up and the type of environment that created."

Roberto Mancini suggested the failings of Italy are due to the problems within Serie A where "coaches don't let young players play because they are afraid of making mistakes".   Italy secured their first European Championship since 1968 with a penalty shoot-out win over England last July, but World Cup play-off heartbreak followed in March for the Azzurri against North Macedonia.   The narrow 1-0 defeat meant Italy missed out on a second successive World Cup, having failed to qualify for both Russia in 2018 and Qatar four years later.   Italy's failure was met with widespread criticism of the domestic game in which critics suggest younger players are not offered as many opportunities to develop, with a preference to rely on foreign players.   This was represented by Mancini's reliance on the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne, with the younger players largely remaining on the periphery at Euro 2020.   Mancini, speaking at a forum to discuss Italian football on Friday, acknowledged little has changed in Italy to develop homegrown talent in recent years as he expressed his concern.   "In the last four years, little has happened and in fact in the national team we are always the same," he said, as quoted by CalcioMercato.   "The first thing is to give more confidence to the coaches as Milan did with [Stefano] Pioli: two years ago he seemed to be leaving, today he is winning the championship.   "Many coaches they don't let young players play because they are afraid of making mistakes. Being down to 32 per cent of Italian players [in Serie A] is highly limiting for all national teams.   "[Nicolo] Zaniolo arrived in Coverciano [Italy's training base] for the first time and looked like a child, after two months everything has changed. The boys improve quickly."

Mancini was quick to praise the race for this season's Scudetto, with Milan requiring just a point on the final day at Sassuolo to secure the title ahead of Inter, who have an inferior head-to-head record.

However, he reiterated his desire to see younger players provided with more opportunities.

"First of all we must say that it was a beautiful championship, where many have fought for the Scudetto until recently," he added. 

"I don't know who will win, I think Milan are at a bit of an advantage. But the matches must be played, then whoever wins will deserve it, be it Inter or Milan. Both have had a great championship anyway.

"Honestly I hoped more players could come through, but in recent years the situation hasn't changed: there are many good young people who can't find chances."

As for Italy's failings in World Cup qualification, Mancini is targeting a response from his side, who start their Nations League campaign at home to Germany on June 4.

"We absolutely didn't deserve to go out, but we have to accept defeat and start again," he continued. 

"We know we don't have big choices, but we have to come up with something like what happened four years ago."

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested Italy are falling behind in international football due to an inability to find a new generation of footballers and a failing Serie A system.

Italy lifted the Euro 2020 title last July with a penalty shoot-out victory over England in the final, the Azzurri's first European Championship since 1968, but followed that up with failure to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.

A play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March condemned Italy to a second successive absence from the global competition, having also missed out on qualification for Russia 2018.

Roberto Mancini and the Italian football system were met with widespread criticism for their reluctance to utilise younger players, instead relying on the experience of the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Ciro Immobile.

There were also suggestions the problems were more deep-rooted in the Italian game, with a lack of opportunities granted for homegrown talents in Serie A that failed to establish a clear path to the national team.

Ancelotti, who featured for Italy as a player and has managed five Italian clubs, echoed those sentiments as he reflected on the improvements needed in his home country.

"I believe that Italian football must seek an improvement in the spectacle it offers," Ancelotti said at a forum to discuss Italian football, as quoted by Tuttomercatoweb. "It is not attractive for several reasons.

"There is the technical aspect, in the sense that there is a lack of figures to look up to in a generation of footballers that has had difficulty producing great champions after the 2006 World Cup, where there were the likes of [Francesco] Totti, [Alessandro] Del Piero, [Andrea] Pirlo, [Gennaro] Gattuso.

"Italy struggled to find a generation of new talents. It is true that the unexpected success at the European Championships arrived, but the individual quality of Italian players at the moment is not that of 15 years ago."

As for how Italy can improve, Ancelotti pointed towards the development opportunities in Serie A as a vital factor.

"In my opinion, right now young people are struggling to find chances in Serie A," he added. "Especially with the new rules, which benefit foreign players and do not allow Italians the time they need.

"In 2019 there was a youth final between Italy and Portugal: the Portuguese players included the likes of [Rafael] Leao, now they play in the top Portuguese or English leagues.

"If you look at the squad, the Italian players are much less active."

Italy will look to get back on track when they face South American champions Argentina in a match billed 'Finalissima' at Wembley on June 1.

Germany coach Hansi Flick has named a 26-man squad for the upcoming Nations League fixtures at the end of the 2021-22 season.

Flick's team face four matches in the space of 11 days between June 4 and 14, playing against Italy both home and away, either side of hosting England and travelling to Hungary.

There are no new faces in Germany's squad, with Flick sticking with the tried-and-tested players who will almost certainly form the bulk of his selection for the 2022 World Cup, which starts in November.

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a notable absentee, but he had previously confirmed he asked Flick for permission to skip the matches and recuperate.

It means uncapped Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann has received his first call-up since September 2020, with Kevin Trapp – who saved a penalty to ensure a shoot-out success for Eintracht Frankfurt over Rangers in the Europa League final on Wednesday – second-choice behind Manuel Neuer.

Niklas Sule and Nico Schlotterbeck will be playing together at Borussia Dortmund next season and are both in the squad, while RB Leipzig defender Lukas Klostermann has earned his first call since October last year.

Antonio Rudiger, seemingly Real Madrid bound, is the oldest player in a relatively youthful defence, at 29. Matthias Ginter has missed out, however.

Bayern Munich star Joshua Kimmich returns after an absence, as does Leon Goretzka. 

Karim Adeyemi – who Dortmund have signed to replace Erling Haaland – also features, as does Bayern youngster Jamal Musiala alongside his club-mates Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane, Chelsea duo Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, and Wolfsburg forward Lukas Nmecha, who has featured in Flick's two previous squads.

Germany squad in full:

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Oliver Baumann (Hoffenheim), Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt); Benjamin Henrichs (RB Leipzig), Thilo Kehrer (Paris Saint-Germain), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), David Raum (Hoffenheim), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Nico Schlotterbeck (Freiburg), Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen); Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Jonas Hofmann (Borussia Monchengladbach), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich), Anton Stach (Mainz); Karim Adeyemi (Salzburg), Kai Havertz (Chelsea), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Lukas Nmecha (Wolfsburg), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Timo Werner (Chelsea).

Giorgio Chiellini asserted it was the right time to end his Juventus career after making his final home appearance for the club, revealing Italy's failure to reach the Qatar World Cup influenced his decision.

Chiellini played the first 17 minutes of a Serie A clash with Lazio on Monday, in which Juve threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.

First-half goals from Dusan Vlahovic and Alvaro Morata looked set to ensure the Bianconeri marked the Allianz Stadium swansong of Chiellini – and Paulo Dybala – with a win, only for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to equalise with the final kick of the game after Alex Sandro put through his own net.

The 37-year-old defender, who has won 20 trophies during his incredible career with the Turin giants, has made 392 top-flight appearances for the club, a tally bettered only by Gianluigi Buffon (489) and Alessandro Del Piero (467).

With Juventus guaranteed to finish fourth in Serie A after enduring a frustrating season, which also saw them lose the Coppa Italia final to Inter, Chiellini said the time had come for the Bianconeri's young players to take centre stage.

"The decision came in months, weeks, not days," he told Sky Sports Italia. "I have always said that I would like to leave at a high level, and I succeeded. 

"It was a difficult year, for Juventus and for me, but in the matches I managed, I played at my level. 

"All this led me to leave now, to leave room for young people. Juve need to restart, and young people have to take responsibility and mature. I helped to clip some people's wings, now it's right for them to fly alone. 

"I will cheer for them from near or far, and I made this decision with joy and serenity."

The legendary Chiellini has made 25 appearances for Juventus in all competitions this season, 17 of them starts.

Chiellini will end his Italy career after facing Argentina at Wembley Stadium on June 1, having won 116 caps to date during a glittering career with the Azzurri.

Having helped Italy to Euro 2020 glory last year, he revealed March's shock World Cup qualification play-off defeat to North Macedonia had influenced his desire to step away from both Serie A and international football.

"Of course, I wanted to get to the World Cup. It was the obsession I had after the European Championship," he added. "It is inevitable that I cannot play every match, but I wanted to be part of the national group. 

"It didn't go the way we wanted, which accelerated my choice. [But] I leave a national team and a Juve in good hands."

Chiellini is not planning on retiring, however, and has been linked with a potential move to Major League Soccer.

Although he said he had not yet made a final decision regarding his future, Chiellini hinted that a move abroad would interest him. 

"I don't know. It has attracted me, but for 10 years, I have to decide at home," he added. 

"An experience abroad enriches you, I think I need to see a little outside my life and Juve. I have to understand together with the family, I have to take a look outside, also for my future."

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini has declared Giorgio Chiellini's decision to leave Juventus and retire from international football as a "pity for everyone".

Juve great Chiellini confirmed after the 4-2 Coppa Italia final loss to Inter last week that he will depart Turin at the end of the season, ending a 17-year spell with the Bianconeri that has seen him lift 20 trophies.

The centre-back has also already revealed he will retire from international duty with Italy after the Azzurri play Argentina at Wembley Stadium on June 1.

Chiellini opted to play in the Finalissima, a new final pitting the winners of the Copa America and European Championship against each other, as a fitting conclusion after Italy lifted Euro 2020 at Wembley in July.

Reports suggest 37-year-old Chiellini may accept an offer to play in MLS before taking his sizeable experience into management or a coaching role.

Mancini, speaking at the Prisco Prize in Chieti where he received a Special Jury Prize, was quick to heap praise on the veteran Chiellini as he reflected on the influence he has had on Italian football.

"It is a pity for everyone because he was a great player for the national team and for Juve," Mancini said, as quoted by Corriere dello Sport.

"Unfortunately, time passes for everyone. He made this decision but leaving after winning the European Championship in a race like the one at Wembley is still important."

Napoli talisman Lorenzo Insigne has also announced he will leave Serie A to move to Toronto FC at the end of the season.

The 30-year-old scored on his final home appearance for Napoli on Sunday, becoming the second-highest goalscorer in the club's history as he moved clear of Marek Hamsik's tally of 121.

Only team-mate Dries Mertens, with 148, has managed more goals for Napoli, and Mancini spoke glowingly of Insigne after his efforts in Naples and with the national side.

"He will go on to have an important experience anyway. He gave a lot to the national team and I hope he can do it again," the Azzurri boss added.

With those two experienced campaigners leaving Serie A, Mancini believes it is time for the Italian top flight to provide more young talent to fill the void Chiellini and Insigne will leave.

Mancini and the Italian system came into criticism for not trusting younger players after Italy failed to qualify for a second successive World Cup following play-off defeat to North Macedonia in late March.

"The important thing when things didn't go well is to get up," he continued. "We will have games in the summer and then the Nations League restarts. 

"There are several interesting youngsters in the championship but we would like more."

Marcos Senesi appears certain to be involved in June's Finalissima, and Argentina hope he will turn out in the Albiceleste.

The Feyenoord defender was born in Argentina but also holds an Italian passport.

Senesi remains uncapped and is said to be a target for Italy ahead of the June international break, in which they will play Argentina as part of the Finalissima between the European Championship winners and Copa America champions.

Lionel Scaloni has moved first by including Senesi in his preliminary squad, however, named on Friday.

And Senesi could get his opportunity as Cristian Romero, also called up by Scaloni, has been ruled out for the rest of the club season with Tottenham.

"We understood in the last few days that Romero had a serious injury and has finished this season," Spurs coach Antonio Conte said. "There are only two games to go and he has no time to recover for these two games."

After playing Italy at Wembley on June 1, Argentina also have a friendly on June 11 against Brazil, whom they must play again in a replayed World Cup qualifier.

Argentina squad in full:

Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Juan Musso (Atalanta), Geronimo Rulli (Villarreal), Franco Armani (River Plate); Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Nahuel Molina (Udinese), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Lucas Martinez Quarta (Fiorentina), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Marcos Senesi (Feyenoord), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Ajax), Nehuen Perez (Udinese), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla); Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Leandro Paredes (Paris Saint-Germain), Nicolas Dominguez (Bologna), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton and Hove Albion), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Giovani Lo Celso (Villarreal), Papu Gomez (Sevilla), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Lucas Ocampos (Sevilla), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa); Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Joaquin Correa (Inter), Julian Alvarez (River Plate), Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen), Lautaro Martinez (Inter).

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin labelled the crowd trouble at the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy as unacceptable and warned it must never happen again.

Italy secured their first European Championship since 1968 with a penalty shoot-out victory over England at Wembley Stadium in July, but the game was marred by clashes before the final.

Hundreds of supporters without tickets attempted to gain entry prior to kick-off, with an independent review later concluding it was "clear we were close to fatalities and/or life-changing injuries for some, potentially many" of the fans in attendance after 17 mass breaches of Wembley's gates.

UEFA punished the Football Association (FA) with a two-game stadium ban, one of which is suspended for two years, and an £84,560 fine.

The FA subsequently apologised and said it was appalled at the disorder that saw ticketless fans fight with stewards and police officers in an attempt to force their way into the stadium.

Ceferin, who was in attendance at the final, reinforced his disappointment with the failures of football as he spoke to a UEFA congress in Vienna on Wednesday.

"We still have many problems to solve to make our sport a role model and greater source of inspiration than it is today," Ceferin said.

"The images of violence at Wembley Stadium at last year's Euro final are unacceptable.

"When a family goes to see a match of any competition, it should be a time for fun, celebration and enjoyment. People should feel safe in and around a stadium.

"They should never feel in danger. With the authorities' help, this cannot happen again. Ever."

 

Giorgio Chiellini is plotting a career in management after the Juventus and Italy captain's playing days come to an end.

Chiellini will retire from international football after the Azzurri's Finalissima showdown with Argentina at Wembley next month.

The 37-year-old centre-back's future has been the subject of speculation, as his Juve contract is due to expire at the end of next season.

Chiellini has been linked with a move to the MLS before hanging up his boots.

The veteran defender plans to use his vast experience to forge a career in management, but will not take up a role until he is ready.

He told La Stampa: "As long as you are a footballer, you are focused only on that. And until today in my head I have always been a 100 per cent footballer, when you do this job it can only be like that. 

"Certainly in the future I would like to have a managerial path, in which to enhance the wealth of experience I have gained over the years and make it available in a new context."

He added: “I would like to take care of what surrounds the pitch, but it goes beyond that, but first I would have a lot to study. I know the sport well, but it is not enough to do well as a manager. 

"About Continassa [the Juventus training complex] I know everything, even where there are cobwebs, but what happens in the office I have a superficial idea. 

"The experience I'm having with Sport Horizon helps me, but you can't improvise it."

Giorgio Chiellini says his "love affair" with Juventus will never come to an end, but admits he is unsure on his next steps after confirming his international retirement.

The Italy captain announced that June's Finalissima encounter with Argentina at Wembley will be his last game for the Azzurri, a year on from success at Euro 2020.

The veteran centre-back oversaw a second successive failure by the national team to qualify for the World Cup earlier this year, ensuring their absence at Qatar 2022.

While his future on the global stage will come to a close, Chiellini says he will take time to consider his club career – but added he will always carry a torch for the Bianconeri.

"My love affair with Juventus is not ending," he stated after Juventus' win over Sassuolo on Monday in Serie A. "It will never end.

"The love is so strong that as far as I am concerned, but also I think it will never end.

"Of course, from now to the end of the season I do have to evaluate everything, talk to my family about what is best.

"Let’s reach fourth place first and win the Coppa Italia, then we’ll sit down with my two families – at home and Juventus – to figure out what is best for everyone.

"It was the same last summer. I took time and didn’t sign the new contract until after the Euros. At my age, you can’t look too far into the long-term, but that’s only natural, it’s all fine.

"I hope you can see that I am happy, relaxed and want to keep enjoying myself with my team-mates, then we'll see."

Since joining the Bianconeri in 2004, Chiellini has established himself as a central figure in Italian football, and helped the club to nine successive Scudetto titles between 2011 and 2020.

But it will likely be his efforts at Euro 2020 last year, when he steered Italy to a penalty shoot-out triumph over England at Wembley, that will stand as his defining achievement.

The joint-fourth most-capped player in Azzurri history, Chiellini added that he hopes to be available for the game with South American champions Argentina – and that it will be a fitting occasion for his farewell.

"If I'm fine, I'll play and say goodbye to the national team at Wembley, where I reached the peak of my career," he added.

"It would be great to say goodbye to the Azzurri shirt with a celebratory match like the one with Argentina. For the national team, it will be the last time."

Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon was surprised by the club's decision not to renew the contract of attacker Paulo Dybala.

However, the 44-year-old, now at Serie B side Parma, does not believe the Bianconeri have made a mistake in letting Dybala leave, noting the improvement Juventus have made under Massimiliano Allegri.

The club confirmed last month Dybala would be allowed to leave at the end of his contract in June, despite the Argentina international recording 13 goal involvements (eight goals, five assists) in 23 Serie A appearances this season.

Among Juve players, only Alvaro Morata (also eight goals and five assists), can match the 28-year-old's output this term.

"I didn't expect it," Buffon told La Stampa of Dybala's departure. "But the club was direct and honest. 

"They didn't renew his contract because they consider him not functional to the project, not because he is poor. 

"He will do great things, but it does not mean that Juve made a mistake. The camp says the group is improving."

Juventus have played their way into title contention after picking up more points in the second half of the Serie A season than any other side (28), while their six-point gap to leaders Milan is the closest the Old Lady have been to the summit since August.

Their quest for a 10th title in 11 years sees them face Bologna on Saturday, against whom Dybala, who is being strongly linked with rivals Inter, has seven goals and one assist in 11 Serie A matches.

 

Buffon was also asked about the fortunes of the Italy national team after Roberto Mancini's European champions failed to qualify for a second consecutive World Cup, falling to a humiliating play-off loss to North Macedonia in qualifying last month.

Buffon, who won 176 caps for the Azzurri and starred as they won the 2006 World Cup, said Mancini must carry responsibility for their struggles despite leading Italy to Euro 2020 glory.

"He was the architect of the Azzurri renaissance, but he has some responsibility," Buffon said of Mancini. 

"There is a way and a way... if you lose on penalties to Portugal, it is one thing, North Macedonia is tougher [to justify]. 

"Already in 2010 I realised that things were changing, that we should have celebrated the qualifications. We lack quality and nastiness. If motivated, we give our best; otherwise, we can lose to anyone."

Gianluigi Donnarumma "still has a lot to give", says former Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, despite the Italy shot-stopper's recent spate of high-profile errors on the biggest stages.

The 23-year-old ended last season on the high of a Euro 2020 triumph with the Azzurri, shortly before a move to Paris Saint-Germain alongside fellow new recruits Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos.

But fast-forward nine months, and he has struggled with costly performances for club and country, resulting in Italy's failure to reach the World Cup and PSG's Champions League exit.

Ex-Selecao goalkeeper Julio Cesar feels Donnarumma has possibly struggled with expectations since his arrival at the Parc des Princes.

"Being a keeper is tough," he told Stats Perform courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. "Donnarumma made his debut at AC Milan when he was 16, then he joined the national team.

"He has already won a European Championship at such a young age, and then to join one of the strongest teams in the world, which is full of champions.

"Many positive things happened to this young man, sometimes it is not easy to have that personality you need to get on the pitch after all the things he has been through down the years.

"From being the strongest keeper of the world, to become the player making the mistake that kicked PSG out of the Champions League.

"Everybody was expecting PSG to reach the final simply because the club brought [Sergio] Ramos, [Achraf] Hakimi, [Lionel] Messi and him [Donnarumma]."

Donnarumma may not have been solely at fault for Italy's World Cup play-off exit to North Macedonia or PSG's elimination at the hands of Real Madrid, but Julio Cesar believes the ex-Milan star needs to learn to maintain his level amid the peaks and troughs of the game to become one of the best in the business.

"In football there are ups and downs, but you need to be consistent if you want to become a great keeper," he added. "If you make a mistake during a match, you cannot miss the next 10 or 20 balls.

"Otherwise, you are out. This is what I think, however, the team did not help. I am talking about both club and national team.

"PSG did not do a nice game against Real Madrid, same for Italy when they had the chance to qualify for the World Cup.

"He is a lad who still has a lot to give to football, he can offer a lot to this sport. He is very young, and fans will be happy to watch him playing, because he is a young talent."

Julio Cesar believes his former club Inter have "all the possibilities" to retain their Serie A title after a productive weekend for the Nerazzurri in the Scudetto race.

Simone Inzaghi's side beat Hellas Verona on Saturday before seeing title rivals Napoli lose at home to Fiorentina and league leaders Milan draw 0-0 at Torino.

Inter now sit second, ahead of Napoli on goal difference and two points behind Milan, but with a game in hand on both and a superior goal difference.

Speaking with Stats Perform courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Cesar compared the current Inter team to the one he played in, which won a treble in the 2009-10 season. 

"Since Inter won the title [last season], Juventus' streak has been interrupted," he said. "When I was at Inter, Juventus was the team to beat. Now, after the title, responsibility always increases.

"Today, the club has a wonderful structure at La Pinetina. I had the opportunity to visit the place. Everything has changed. Having said that, I think that the football played on the pitch makes the difference.

"This championship is very balanced. Inter is in second place behind Milan, the season is still open.

"We have Milan, Inter and Napoli, which are all in contention for the title. There are six games left and Inter have all the possibilities to win the Scudetto. Inter is a strong team, although they had peaks and valleys, but I guess this is normal during a season."

 

Cesar also had words of praise for current Inter stopper Samir Handanovic, believing that a lack of Champions League football during his time at the club has led to people underestimating the Slovenian.

"I think Samir has shown his value since he joined Inter," he said. "However, his quality was not always recognised because Inter was out of the Champions League for many years.

"Playing in the Champions League allows you to step up your game. Samir has brought the right confidence, he has become the captain and the leader of the team. Inter must be ready to give credit to the work that Samir has done."

Inter have been linked with a move for Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana at the end of the season, but Cesar is unsure if the Cameroonian would displace Handanovic.

He added: "Even if a younger keeper will join the club – I am not sure about Onana's age [26] but I imagine he is a young talent – Samir is still a keeper who knows the club's environment very well.

"Even if Onana will join Inter, Handanovic will be the first choice. Winning the title could also give him the confidence in persuading the club to be their first choice also for next year. He is talented and he keeps himself physically fit, so he could be the first goalkeeper for the next two years."

Former Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro says the Bianconeri can still win the Scudetto this season, insisting Massimiliano Allegri's men have a chance in a "four-man race" for the title.

Cannavaro noted the slip-ups of Juventus' rivals as a reason for his belief in his former club's chances, claiming "it seems that nobody wants to win" Serie A.

The legendary centre-back also demanded far-reaching changes across Italian football in response to the Azzurri's recent failure to reach this year's Qatar World Cup, but would not be drawn on talk he could replace Roberto Mancini as the national team's coach.

Juventus are six points behind leaders Milan with six games remaining, and narrowed the gap on their rivals over the weekend, beating Cagliari 2-1 before Milan drew 0-0 with Torino and Napoli lost 3-2 to Fiorentina.

Juventus have now won three consecutive away league games for the first time this season, and the 48-year-old, who left the club for Real Madrid after captaining Italy to World Cup glory in 2006, believes Allegri's men remain in the hunt.

"It seems that nobody wants to win it," the 2006 Ballon D'or winner said at an event in Tuscany. "The feeling is that when there is the chance to make a difference, something always happens.

"The championship is always open, anything can happen. Seeing the results of those ahead [of Juventus], it's a four-man race.

"We know Juventus, they never give up, it is certainly a championship that can give us surprises.

"It's a strange championship, when you have the chance to knock the others off [the top], nobody does. It's a championship that anyone can win, all four of them. If the results are [to continue like] these, it will be an interesting ending ".

If Juventus were to win the title, it would represent their 10th Scudetto in 11 years, and their sixth under the tutelage of Allegri.

Cannavaro was also asked about his country's second consecutive failure to qualify for the World Cup after Italy suffered a shock play-off defeat to North Macedonia last month.

"It hurts," he said of the failure to reach Qatar. "After 2006, we are no longer able to [have our] say at the World Cup, which has always seen us as protagonists.

"Beyond this, this resignation to the fact that it has to be like this saddens me. It is a shame, there are generations [of Italians] that have not seen a final phase [of a World Cup].

"We need to change quickly. I don't have the cure, I don't have the recipe, it's not up to me.

"It [the Italian Football Federation] is an organisation that doesn't work. Before, the [Italian] teams went to Europe and commanded, we went to Champions League finals, now we haven't reached it for years.

"It [talk of Cannavaro succeeding Mancini] is normal. You can't focus on one man, but on a system that has failed for too many years. I haven't heard from anyone."

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti prefers the day-to-day running of club management amid questions about whether he would take up an international role.

Ancelotti has guided Madrid to the summit of LaLiga, 12 points clear of a resurgent Barcelona, who do have a game in hand.

Madrid are also in contention to go all the way in the Champions League. Los Blancos are 3-1 up in their quarter-final against reigning European champions Chelsea heading into Tuesday's second leg.

While Ancelotti has Madrid on course for success this season, speculation swirls as to whether president Florentino Perez will stick with the 62-year-old for next season.

The failure of Italy to qualify for two straight World Cups has also brought Roberto Mancini's position into question, but Ancelotti – a reported option to take over as Azzurri coach in 2018 – prefers club football.

"I have thought about it, to train a national team," he told a news conference when asked about the Italy job. 

"To be honest I must say that I like the day-to-day of club football. The matches give you emotion and happiness.

"But there is of course the worry and the day-to-day stress – when I lose the desire for the daily work, I will stop."

The former Bayern Munich and Chelsea boss opted to leave Everton for Madrid at the start of this season, after guiding the Toffees to an underwhelming 10th in his only full Premier League campaign with them following a 12th-placed finish in 2019-20.

Everton were looking good to mount a challenge for Champions League qualification as late as March, yet only managed three wins from their final 12 top-flight games.

The Merseyside club are now fighting relegation, but Ancelotti said Madrid, who he coached previously between 2013 and 2015, were the only suitors capable of turning his head.

"With Everton, I was having a good time," he said. "Then Madrid called me and I can understand why [Everton] got angry, but it was difficult to say 'no'.

"It was the only team I couldn't say no to. To the rest, I could say no."

Asked whether he would be in charge in 2022-23, Ancelotti replied: "I hope so, but I'm not thinking about that.

"I'm not thinking about the contract. If the club is happy, I'm still happy. If not, I'll appreciate it, period. I trust at the end of the season, it will be good."

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