Stefano Sensi scored the winner as Inter required extra-time to edge past Empoli 3-2 in the Coppa Italia last 16 on Wednesday.

Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring after just 12 minutes at the San Siro, but Empoli turned things around as substitute Nedim Bajrami equalised before the visitors fortuitously took the lead when Ionut Radu deflected into his own net.

Andrea Ranocchia produced an acrobatic stoppage-time equaliser to send the tie to extra-time and substitute Sensi delivered the decisive strike after 104 minutes. 

Victory meant Simone Inzaghi's Serie A leaders squirmed through to the quarter-finals for the 18th time in 19 seasons.

Inter deservedly took the lead when Sanchez nodded Denzel Dumfries' cross into the bottom-left corner - the forward's second goal in the competition, 4,291 days after his first for Udinese in 2010.

The same pair combined eight minutes later, but Dumfries saw his effort kept out by Jacopo Furlan before a fantastic double save from the Empoli goalkeeper denied Lautaro Martinez.

Ranocchia should have doubled the lead immediately after the interval but wastefully headed over.

Bajrami punished Ranocchia's miss as he placed a left-footed effort into the bottom-right corner after Kristjan Asllani's offload before VAR overturned a penalty decision for a Dumfries handball. 

Empoli went ahead when Radu inadvertently turned into his own net after Patrick Cutrone nodded against the woodwork, though Ranocchia equalised with an audacious volley past Furlan.

Sanchez saw a tap-in ruled out for offside at the end of normal time, but Sensi blasted the winner into the top-left corner from the edge of the area in extra time.

 

What does it mean? Familiar story as Inter need extra-time

Inter enjoyed last-minute success against Juventus in the Supercoppa final last week and required more last-gasp heroics from Ranocchia to keep them in the tie.

The centre-back's equaliser meant four of the Nerazzurri's previous eight last-16 meetings in the competition have gone to extra-time.

Sensi's late strike ensured Inter remain unbeaten against Empoli in 11 games in this competition, the club's longest run against an opponent in the cup without losing, and Inzaghi's side will be among the early favourites to lift the trophy in May.

Brilliant Bajrami

Bajrami almost single-handedly changed Empoli's fortunes after his half-time introduction, scoring the equaliser in a classy attacking display, but his efforts ultimately proved to be in vain.

The substitute created a game-leading four chances despite only playing the second half and extra-time.

Poor Pinamonti

Loanee Andrea Pinamonti was offered the unusual opportunity of starting up top against his parent club Inter but did little to impress.

The striker managed just 13 touches and won none of his five duels before his half-time removal in a timid performance.

What's next?

Inter return to league action on Saturday at home to Venezia, while Empoli host Jose Mourinho's Roma the following day.

Real Betis will be unable to play their next two home games at Estadio Benito Villamarin following the suspension of their Copa del Rey clash with local rivals Sevilla. 

The last-16 match was halted on Saturday after Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordan was hit on the head by a projectile thrown from the stands while Betis celebrated Nabil Fekir cancelling out Alejandro Gomez's opener in the 39th minute. 

Betis emerged as 2-1 winners when the game resumed behind closed doors the following day. 

However, their next two home fixtures will have to take place at a different venue after the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) ordered the closure of their stadium as punishment. It was deemed Betis, who have 10 days to appeal, had taken "insufficient" measures to prevent the event from occurring. 

The official statement released by the RFEF read: "The sanction application to the disciplinary infraction … would be the total or partial closure of the venue for up to three games, or for two months. 

"In this sense, this body considers the imposition of the sanction of total closure in its medium degree to be adequate and proportionate." 

Manuel Pellegrini's side are scheduled to host Villarreal on February 5 and Real Mallorca two weeks later. However, if they are drawn at home in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey they may not be able to play that match at their usual ground. 

Algeria could become the second major casualty of the Africa Cup of Nations as the group stages are concluded on Thursday.

The defending champions head into their final – and arguably toughest – Group E match in a desperate position after failing to impress in their first two outings.

Thursday will also bring an end to Group F, where Algeria's neighbours Tunisia have plenty of work to do as well.

Ivory Coast v Algeria (16:00 GMT)

With one point from two matches, Algeria head into matchday three bottom of Group E and staring into the abyss of elimination.

Only a victory against group leaders Ivory Coast will be enough to take them into the knockouts, otherwise they will fall at the first hurdle for the third time in five AFCON tournaments.

Ivory Coast will be hoping to gain a measure of revenge for their 2019 quarter-final penalty shoot-out defeat to the Fennec Foxes, with the Elephants heading into the game unbeaten in five AFCON games.

They too have something to play for, with top spot still up for grabs.

One to watch: Youcef Belaili (Algeria)

You certainly cannot fault the effort of winger Belaili, given his eight shots is three more than any of his team-mates and he has also tallied the most touches in the opposition's box (11), but there is little getting away from the fact Algeria in general need to sharpen up in front of goal if they are to avoid following Ghana into shock elimination.

 

Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea (16:00 GMT)

Before the tournament started, few would have given this pair much hope of finishing in the top two, yet either could grasp that opportunity on Thursday.

Equatorial Guinea are second and hold a one-point advantage, meaning a draw may well be enough to get them through at least as one of the best third-placed teams.

But Sierra Leone drew 2-2 with Ivory Coast last time out following a goalless stalemate with Algeria – the results showed they are not to be taken lightly.

Equatorial Guinea will be favourites, however, and they have only ever lost two of their eight AFCON group games.

One to watch: Mohamed Nbalie Kamara (Sierra Leone)

Kamara has been one of the standout goalkeepers at the tournament so far. His 12 saves are the most of anyone, and those stops have seen him record a 'goals prevented' record of 2.1, the second-best record among keepers at the AFCON.

 

Gambia v Tunisia (19:00 GMT)

Although Tunisia could potentially sneak through as one of the best third-place teams with their current haul of three points, it would be a disappointing group stage total for a side that came into the tournament with high expectations.

Yet the Carthage Eagles' situation is slightly complicated by the fact they recorded seven new positive COVID-19 cases in the build-up, with key players Wahbi Khazri and Ali Maaloul among them.

That will be a boost to Gambia, however, with the Scorpions aiming to become only the third AFCON debutants this century to go unbeaten in the group stage.

But Tunisia have not lost to an AFCON debutant since the 1996 final.

One to watch: Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)

Manchester United youngster Hannibal has been used sparingly in this tournament, playing just 45 minutes so far. Yet, his tally of two chances created is only bettered by Khazri and Maaloul (both on three), and given Tunisia's COVID-19 issues, a first start may be on the cards.

 

Mali v Mauritania (19:00 GMT)

A wonderful chance presents itself here for Mali, as they target topping Group F.

If they better Gambia's result against Tunisia, that is exactly what they will achieve, as well as extending their longest ever group stage unbeaten run to seven matches.

Anything other than a Mali win would be a significant surprise given Mauritania are bottom of the group and pointless, their five goals conceded second-worse to Ethiopia, who have played a game more.

One to watch: Ibrahima Kone (Mali)

Kone has played a prominent role in Mali's solid start to the tournament, scoring a penalty in each of their two matches. If he nets against Mauritania, he will be the first Malian to tally get three goals in a single AFCON edition since former Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita in 2013.

 

Lionel Messi has not been included in Lionel Scaloni's latest Argentina squad as he continues to recover from coronavirus.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has not played a match in almost a month, with the 1-1 Ligue 1 draw at Lorient on December 22 being his most recent outing.

He contracted COVID-19 while back home in Argentina during the mid-season break, forcing him to return to France later than initially planned.

Messi seemed all set to return to action against Lyon on January 9, but PSG said he needed to continue his recovery and then he also missed the 2-0 win over Brest on Saturday.

While he said last week that "I have almost recovered", Messi did reveal on social media that getting over the illness took "longer than I thought".

Given his situation, Argentina have seemingly deemed it pointless risking Messi or further disrupting his recovery given they have already secured qualification for this year's World Cup.

Argentina travel to Chile on Thursday before hosting Colombia five days later, with both opponents still desperately fighting for the right to play at Qatar 2022.

La Albiceleste's other remaining qualifiers are against Venezuela and surprise-package Ecuador in March.

 

Mikel Arteta hit back at Arsenal's critics following the postponement of Sunday's north London derby as he insisted "we did the right thing."

The Gunners were due to make the short trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a showdown with their fierce rivals, but the game was called off due to a lack of players available to Arteta.

Arsenal were accused of exploiting the Premier League's rules, with the majority of players absent due to injury, suspension or Africa Cup of Nations duty.

The club only one confirmed positive COVID-19 case at the time of lodging an application to get the derby called off, but the Premier League deemed they were unable to meet the required number of available players – 13 outfielders and a goalkeeper – despite their Under-23s having a squad of 16 for a game on Friday.

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte felt the decision to postpone the match was "very, very strange."

Arsenal manager Arteta hit back on the eve of Thursday's EFL Cup semi-final second leg at home to Liverpool, which he expects to go ahead despite "issues that have not been resolved" in his squad.

Asked what he thought about people saying Arsenal could have played the game, the Spaniard said: "We played against Forest [in the FA Cup] when we had 10 players out and we went to Liverpool and we had many players out.

"We have done that and we have played with academy players when we already have the youngest squad in the league.

"Tomorrow if we have everybody available as I suspect we will play the match because we want to play football."

He added: "I think more than hate [being directed towards Arsenal] there is a lot of respect for Arsenal and that comes from the history of the club, how it's always acted and how it has always conducted itself.

"We know we did the right thing. We worked with the Premier League and the FA to make that decision. If anything we've been very honest at least."

Arteta stressed that it was "100 per cent guaranteed" that Arsenal did not have enough players to face Spurs.

Asked if the criticism of the club could be used as a fuel to drive his team, Arteta said: "We will defend our club tooth and nail. We're not going to get anybody damaging our name or trying to spread lies."

Arteta revealed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back in London and has undergone tests after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations for medical reasons without playing a game.

The Gabon striker had tested positive for COVID-19 on January 6 and was subsequently diagnosed with "heart lesions".

Arteta said: "He's in London and going through some examinations because we haven't had any clarity from Gabon about why he came back.

"So it's our obligation to make sure he's safe and in good condition. So far historically with what we've done with the player that's never been an issue."

Aubameyang has not featured for Arsenal since December 6, having been stripped of the captaincy due to a breach of club rules.

Arsenal and Liverpool played out a goalless draw in the first leg of their EFL Cup tie at Anfield, with Granit Xhaka seeing red in the first half.

Carlo Ancelotti has reaffirmed there is no problem with Eden Hazard, who is finding Real Madrid game time hard to come by.

Hazard was an unused substitute in both of Madrid's Supercopa de Espana matches last week in Saudi Araba, as Los Blancos went on to win their first trophy of Ancelotti's second spell in charge.

The former Chelsea star, who turned 31 earlier in January, has endured an injury hit time at Santiago Bernabeu since his big-money move in 2019.

While he has in the main avoided injuries so far this season, Hazard has only made eight starts across all competitions, with his game time totalling 724 minutes.

Hazard has only completed a game on one occasion this season, having been subbed off in his other seven starts, and he has only assisted on two occasions from 27 chances created, failing to score himself.

Per 90 minutes played, Hazard has had 66 touches, with eight in the opposition area.

Vinicius Jr, who has excelled on the left flank – Hazard's preferred position – under Ancelotti, averages nine touches in the area per 90 minutes played, and he has featured 28 times this season in total.

The Brazil international creates 2.2 chances per 90 minutes and he has been directly involved in 22 goals (15 goals, seven assists), second only to Karim Benzema in Madrid's squad (33 – 24 goals, nine assists).

With such quality competition, Ancelotti explained it is natural for players to miss out, but insisted there is no issue between himself and Hazard.

"It is true that the two have had many setbacks due to injuries," Ancelotti told a news conference when asked about Hazard and Gareth Bale, who has played just 193 minutes across three appearances in 2021-22.

"Hazard has been doing well from a physical point of view for a month and a half. I don't have to advise Hazard, he has the character and the experience to choose the best for him.

 

"The quality of the two could have helped us more, but it's only been the first part of the season. Hopefully the second half can be better.

"Nothing strange has happened between us, simply that there is competition and the coach, which is me, has to choose the best for each game. I try to be fair and choose the best. Sometimes you are very good and you don't play. I'm also talking about Nacho, [Dani] Ceballos, Isco, [Luka] Jovic.

"Nothing has happened, only that there is competition in the team and I have to choose the best in each game. This affects many players, I can't deny it. Nothing has happened, he is training and waiting for the coach's call. I think he will be ready when it arrives."

Asked if Hazard might be moved out this month, Ancelotti said: "At the moment he is still a Madrid player, he is training, focused... We have nothing else to think about."

While Hazard did travel to Saudi Arabia for the Supercopa tournament, Bale instead remained in Madrid to work on his fitness, and Ancelotti said the Wales forward is available for Thursday's Copa del Rey meeting with Elche.

"He will be in the squad and all those who are have the chance to play from the beginning or as a sub. It can also happen that they don't play," the Italian added.

Thibaut Courtois will not be available due to a minor injury.

Barcelona coach Xavi has issued an ultimatum to Ousmane Dembele over his future: either sign a new contract or leave the club this month.

The Catalans have been in discussion with the winger for months about an extension to his deal, which expires at the end of the season.

Dembele has struggled badly with injury troubles since his move from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for an initial €105million, which have hampered his attempts to establish himself as a key player at Camp Nou.

Xavi, though, has been eager to see the France international stay at the club despite him playing just six times in LaLiga this season and in only 52 per cent of all Barca's league games since his arrival.

This week, Dembele's agent Moussa Sissoko told RMC Sport that he would not bow to "pressure" from Barca over his client's future and accused the club of making "threats of no longer playing in the side" rather than engaging in productive talks.

It appears Xavi and Barca's directors have had enough of the situation and the message to Dembele is clear.

 

"What I can say is that we are making a difficult decision. If he does not renew, the club has decided they will make a decision," Xavi told reporters ahead of Thursday's Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao.

"We've waited a long time. We have been in talks with him for five months.

"Either he renews or we look for an exit. In the end, the club has decided that if he does not renew, a solution must be found.

"We have to do what is best for the club. [Sporting director] Mateu Alemany has been talking with him and his representatives for months.

"It's not a pleasant situation for anyone, but what's clear is that the interests of the club must prevail here.

"He told me he wants to stay. It's a question for him. I've been really clear; I can't be more concise. Either he renews, or we look for an exit. It's all or nothing."

Xavi also made it clear he considers it a priority to extend the contract of defender Ronald Araujo, which expires at the end of next season.

"His renewal is a priority. He's a really important piece. He has a winning character," Xavi said.

"I hope an agreement is reached because he's a player for the present and the future. Ronald is a boy who adds a lot."

Liverpool are proving that they are not just reliant on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, according to assistant manager Pep Lijnders.

Jurgen Klopp's side are having to do without two of their star attackers, with Salah and Mane on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt and Senegal respectively.

Naby Keita is also featuring at the tournament, with the midfielder a talisman for Guinea, who like Senegal have progressed from Group B. Salah's Egypt will guarantee their qualification from Group D with a win over Sudan on Wednesday.

The tournament runs until February 6. Senegal were runners-up in 2019 while Egypt are the most successful team in AFCON history with seven titles, and both are fancied to go far this time around in Cameroon.

Liverpool have been without the trio since just after a draw with Chelsea on January 2, and though they subsequently beat Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup, the absence of Mane and the Premier League's leading scorer Salah was particularly felt in a 0-0 draw with 10-man Arsenal at Anfield in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on January 13.

The Gunners had Granit Xhaka sent off midway through the first half yet Liverpool mustered only one effort on target, with that shot coming in stoppage time, after Takumi Minamino had spurned a glorious chance.

The Reds bounced back with a routine 3-0 win over Brentford on Sunday, with Liverpool having 27 shots (13 on target) and controlling 68 percent of the possession.

Liverpool had 3.1 expected goals against Brentford, the joint-fourth highest total for them in a league game this season, while they have only managed more shots in one top-flight fixture (against Leeds United in September), with their shots-on-target total the most in a single match.

Asked ahead of the second leg against Arsenal how pleased he was with Liverpool's reaction to being without such key players, Lijnders told a news conference: "We did it before. One of the most memorable games [the 4-0 Champions League win over Barcelona in 2019] was without a few of them [Salah and Roberto Firmino].

"When we have our squad, we knew that we needed to have different weapons, create goals from everywhere, dribbles from everywhere, attacks from everywhere, not just based on counter-attacks or the speed of these two boys.

"They are our front line but what I like is we don't just have one weapon, we have so many different ways to attack. How we are evolving as a team, developing with our positional game, it's important and we really like it."

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped up on Sunday, scoring Liverpool's second and playing three key passes, second only to Fabinho (four), though the midfielder will not be available against his former club on Thursday due to an ankle injury sustained against Brentford.

"I spoke with him and he feels okay, it's not that bad," Lijnders explained. "He's hoping that he will make the weekend. Tomorrow will be way too soon. We will assess that day by day."

While Liverpool beat Brentford, Arsenal were not in action on Sunday, with the Premier League having granted the Gunners' request to postpone the north London derby clash with Tottenham due to a COVID-19 case within the squad, though injuries and players away at AFCON were also cited as a reason.

"We had our own experience with this, it's really difficult to judge from the outside," said Lijnders, who had to take charge of the Chelsea clash this month when Klopp was self-isolating due to COVID-19.

"We saw that with our situation. I fully respect the submissions because I trust 100 percent the medical department of each Premier League club. I think this is the most important, the trust in these decisions."

Hans-Joachim Watzke has slammed the suggestion that Borussia Dortmund have issued Erling Haaland an ultimatum over his future as "total b***s***".

Haaland, who joined Dortmund in January 2020 from Austrian club Salzburg, is one of the most sought-after talents in European football.

Since the Norway forward made his Dortmund debut just over two years ago, he has netted 79 goals in all competitions.

He marked his two-year anniversary with a goal on Tuesday, though Dortmund nevertheless suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to St Pauli in the DFB-Pokal.

It means that, for the first time since 2006-07, neither Dortmund nor Bayern Munich will contend in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals, while none of the winners from across the previous 26 years are left in this season's competition.

That defeat followed on from an emphatic Bundesliga win over Freiburg on Friday, though it was after that match that Haaland commented on his future.

The 21-year-old claimed Dortmund had been pressuring to make a decision on his next move, and that he would soon make a call on whether he will look to leave the club at the end of the season. 

However, Dortmund chief executive Watzke, who did over the weekend acknowledge they had stressed the importance of Haaland making a decision soon to the striker, has insisted the club have not made any ultimatum.

"Some in the media write that BVB would give him an ultimatum, which is total bullshit," he told ARD.

"Dortmund didn't put the gun on his chest."

 

Asked if Dortmund had been unsettled by Haaland's comments, Watzke added: "Erling was obviously a bit bothered by it, but we can't influence that. We told him that too."

Since his Dortmund bow, only Robert Lewandowski (107) has scored more goals than Haaland across all competitions, of players in Europe's top five leagues.

Haaland averages a goal every 80 minutes, while his tally has come from an expected goals (xG) of 63, suggesting his finishing has been way above the standard that would be expected given the quality of chances that have been created for him.

As for big chances – which Opta define as an opportunity from which a player would reasonably be expected to score – Haaland has been presented with 110 and converted 65 of them.

That equals a conversion rate of 59.1 per cent, which is better than eight of the top 10 goalscorers across Europe's top five leagues in that time, with Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes, who has netted 32 of his 49 big chances (65.3 per cent) having a better conversion rate.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will once again be without fans for upcoming home World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica as the government looks to put measures in place to combat the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

The country has played the majority of its matches behind closed doors, so far, with the lone exception being its last match against the United States, which allowed for 5000 vaccinated spectators to be present.

With 15 more COVID deaths, 1,548 new cases, and a positivity rate of 51.5 percent, as of Tuesday, however, the Government has decided to return to closed-door measures.  The Reggae Boyz have been the only team in the octagonal round that has been affected so severely by coronavirus restrictions, with many other teams sticking to the practice of limiting the numbers of fans allowed at the venues.

Jamaica, however, has the lowest vaccination rate of all the countries participating in the qualifiers with just 557,000 persons fully vaccinated, representing just 20.4 percent of the population.

The Reggae Boyz will be hoping to make a late run to book a place at this year’s FIFA World Cup having found themselves well off the pace midway through the qualifiers.  The team is currently 6th in the standings on 7 points, seven short of the final qualification spot.  The team will kick off the next round with a match against Mexico on January 27th, followed by a trip to Panama three days later and a home fixture against Costa Rica on January 30.

Mona High has been removed from the final of the ISSA Walker Cup after being found guilty of using ineligible players.

Mona was expected to face defending champions St Catherine in the final of the competition, on Saturday, after securing their spot last week with a resounding 5-0 win over Kingston Technical.

However, following a decision handed down by ISSA on Tuesday, it is Kingston Technical who will now replace Mona in the final.  The issue stems from the school’s use of two ineligible players during the semifinal of the Walker Cup.

During the Manning Cup quarterfinal against St Andrew Technical, two Mona players, Ronaldo Jones, and Carlton Brown received red cards.  While Jones received a straight red card, Brown got two yellow cards.  Neither should have been eligible for the Walker Cup semifinals but were still used in the fixture.

"If a player receives a “red card” he automatically misses the next scheduled match in the competition in which he is eligible,” the release issue by ISSA stated.

Mona is coached by Phoenix All-Star Football Academy manager Craig Butler.

Luis Suarez's future at Atletico Madrid is unclear with his contract to expire at the end of the season.

Suarez helped Atleti win LaLiga last term with 21 goals.

The Uruguayan joined Atletico from top-flight rivals Barcelona in 2020 on a two-year deal.

TOP STORY – SUAREZ WANTS GERRARD REUNION AT VILLA

Suarez wants a reunion with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa, reports Gerard Romero.

The Atletico Madrid forward's contract expires at the end of this season and has been sounded out by numerous Brazilian clubs.

Suarez has had offers from Palmeiras, Corinthians and Atletico Mineiro but wants to link up with Gerrard who took over at Villa in January.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN claims Paris Saint-Germain have opened talks with Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Milan's Franck Kessie, as part of their effort to convince Kylian Mbappe to stay in the French capital amid interest from Real Madrid.

- Juventus have made an enquiry for Borussia Monchengladbach's Denis Zakaria according to 90min as they prepare for Arthur Melo to join Arsenal .

- Arsenal's bid to sign Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic looks to have hit a roadblock with the Serbian only interested in joining Juventus, reports the Mail.

- Milan want to bolster their backline and are interested in a loan deal for Tottenham's Japhet Tanganga, claims Fabrizio Romano.

- Leicester City and Newcastle United may rival Brentford to sign Inter's Christian Eriksen, reports the Times.

Borussia Dortmund head coach Marco Rose admits he is "angry" after his side spurned a golden opportunity to win a title after crashing out of the DFB-Pokal 2-1 to St Pauli on Tuesday.

DFB-Pokal holders Dortmund conceded twice in the first half before Erling Haaland pulled back a 58th minute penalty but they could not find an equalizer in the last-16 clash.

The defeat means for the first time since 2006-07, neither Dortmund or Bayern Munich will contend in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals, with Rose admitting it was a major missed opportunity.

"I'm just angry. The cup is a chance for a title and we're generally in good shape," Rose told Sky. "Then we just give the game away in the first 10 minutes.

"The fact that you then get into problems with the ground and the strong opponent under the conditions is inexplicable and cannot be excused."

Dortmund had come into the DFB-Pokal game fresh from beating SC Freiburg 5-1 in the Bundesliga on Friday, as well as coming from behind to win 3-2 over Eintracht Frankfurt.

"It's a pity and a bit stupid of us that after a top performance against Freiburg and the game we played in Frankfurt, we didn't do it again," Rose said.

"Unfortunately, we are again confirming a few things that have been held up to us in the last few weeks, months and years. It's just our fault.

"The end pisses me off because it was a chance for a title and we're just giving the game away."

Samuel Umtiti is expected to be out of action for around three months after undergoing surgery on a fractured metatarsal, Barcelona have announced. 

France international Umtiti had a procedure on his right foot on Tuesday and will be consigned to the sidelines until April at the earliest. 

A club statement read: "Samuel Umtiti has undergone successful surgery on the fifth metatarsal of his right foot. 

"Tuesday's operation was performed by Dr Antoni Dalmau under supervision of the FC Barcelona Medical Services. He is expected to be out of action for around three months. 

"The French centre-back suffered the fracture in training on Monday." 

Umtiti this month signed a new contract that tied him to Camp Nou until 2026, despite having been heavily linked with an exit.  

The World Cup-winning defender's three-year extension included a temporary pay decrease that allowed new signing Ferran Torres to be registered. 

Umtiti has long been a peripheral figure at Barcelona, featuring in just 17 games in all competitions since the start of last season.

Juventus assistant manager Marco Landucci applauded his players' attitude and believes they are building consistency following their Coppa Italia victory over Sampdoria.

The Bianconeri made a strong start to their title defence with a commanding 4-1 win over the Blucerchiata at the Allianz Stadium.

Goals from Juan Cuadrado and Daniele Rugani put the hosts in control and despite Andrea Conti's reply for the visitors, further strikes from Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata sealed the passage into the quarter-finals.

Landucci oversaw Juve's fortunes in the absence of Massimiliano Allegri, who is serving a touchline ban in the Coppa Italia held over from his first stint in charge of the club.

And the assistant hailed the efforts of his squad, who are now unbeaten after 90 minutes in their last 11 across all competitions.

"We put in a good performance, which wasn’t easy with so few people in the stadium," he told Sport Mediaset.

"We had the right attitude, were fired up, and it was very important that we go through to the next round, as the Coppa Italia is a great tournament. Everyone did very well.

"The attitude is crucial, and we had many games with the right attitude, even missing key players. There are no easy games; we saw that [when] we lost more points against the so-called smaller sides like Verona, Empoli and Udinese.

"The only thing that matters is hard work, attitude and desire. We are finding some consistency now; we need to speak with actions rather than words."

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