Paulo Dybala is delighted to be part of a vibrant Juventus attack under Maurizio Sarri after it looked like he could be on his way out of the club.

Dybala starred in Sunday's 2-1 win over Inter at San Siro, opening the scoring as the reigning champions returned to a familiar position at the top of Serie A.

It appeared unlikely that the Argentina forward would have such a prominent role after a close season when he was linked to Manchester United, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain.

"I have not experienced an easy summer," the 25-year-old told Tuttosport. "Obviously hearing your name with every team you don't want to go to is not a nice thing, but this is football.

"Before the market started I had already done an interview in which I said I wanted to stay in Turin, then I never spoke again, not even at the Copa America. 

"I think it's more important to talk on the field, with facts. You never know how the market goes until the last day, but I wanted to stay here, I wanted to continue my career at Juventus. 

"I think I can still give so much to this shirt and I'm very happy with what I showed against Inter."

Dybala lined up alongside Cristiano Ronaldo up front in the Derby d'Italia, with Federico Bernardeschi behind them at the tip of a midfield diamond – a role that has also been filled by Aaron Ramsey during recent outings.

Gonzalo Higuain then came off the bench to score the winner and Dybala reported life is good under Sarri for Juve's assortment of attackers – arguably more so than under Massimiliano Allegri.

"They are different as a way of playing and you can already see that," he added.

"With Allegri we have done many things, but I think Sarri is a little more offensive and you can already see that he plays more [offensively] than Allegri's idea.

"To prove it [can be successful], we have to wait for what will happen. With Sarri it is so offensive, so it's easier for us attackers."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to be concerned that one more significant defeat could see him sacked as Manchester United manager.

Although Ed Woodward has given his backing to the former striker and insisted the club has faith in their longer-term plan, it seems the loss to Newcastle United on Sunday has caused particular concern.

AC Milan, meanwhile, could make a change in the dugout on Tuesday, while Real Madrid are considering a Chelsea midfielder.

 

TOP STORY – SOLKSJAER FACING SACK IF UNITED LOSE HANDSOMELY TO LIVERPOOL

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may not survive at Manchester United if they suffer a significant defeat to Liverpool.

The Daily Mail and the Mirror claim executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was very concerned by the manner of the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United, despite giving the manager public support.

It is suggested Woodward could choose to dismiss Solskjaer if United are beaten heavily by league leaders Liverpool on October 20 - much as Jose Mourinho was sacked after a 3-1 loss at Anfield last year.

 

ROUND-UP

- United are in desperate need of goals but one of their targets, Moussa Dembele, could be stolen away from Lyon by Everton for £40million in January, according to Football Insider.

AC Milan are another major club ready to make a change in the dugout. Gianluca Di Marzio claims the Rossoneri could replace Marco Giampaolo with former Inter boss Stefano Pioli as early as Tuesday.

- Inter, meanwhile, are plotting a bid for out-of-favour Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic, according to Calciomercato.com.

Real Madrid appear to have turned a corner under Zinedine Zidane but the former France star still wants a new midfielder. Sport say he has sanctioned a possible January bid for Chelsea's N'Golo Kante.

- In France, Sylvinho paid the price for Lyon's poor form - particularly Sunday's derby defeat to Saint-Etienne - and the Ligue 1 side are considering former Valencia boss Marcelino as his replacement, according to Soccer Link.

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt laughed off rumours of being put on a low-carbohydrate diet at the request of head coach Maurizio Sarri.

De Ligt has endured a tricky start to life at Serie A champions Juve since his €75million arrival from Eredivisie holders Ajax in the off-season.

The 20-year-old has shown signs of improvement in Turin, where the Netherlands centre-back has started to form a promising partnership with veteran Leonardo Bonucci following Giorgio Chiellini's serious knee injury.

De Ligt was asked about speculation that Sarri put him on a special diet amid fears over his weight and he told Nu.nl: "It really is a wild story.

"It doesn't surprise me anymore. Sometimes I think I had a decent game, but apparently there's something wrong after all. But those are only opinions. It's important to know what I do well and what went wrong – and I know that well.

"Every new player should get the time to adapt to the team. Juventus had two great defenders already with Chiellini and Bonucci. The plan was to let me enter the team slowly, but it worked out differently. Obviously it's great that I get to play already, but you get thrown in at the deep end right away. That's a great challenge for me.

"The most important lesson I have learned so far at Juventus is that you need self-confidence. In the beginning, I noticed I was way too concerned about not making mistakes and that's exactly what you shouldn't do. I never played that way and in my first weeks I was too focused on that.

"After that game against Atletico Madrid [in the Champions League] I called myself to order, in a way. I wanted to play with confidence again. Maybe still some things will go wrong, but at least I know for sure things are better than before. Since then I have an upward trend.

"The critiques you get after the game are part of the deal. Unfortunately that's the life of a defender. You're balancing on such a thin line of playing good or bad. Of course I'd rather not give away a penalty kick, but in the end we won [against Inter] and that's what matters."

Roberto Mancini is prepared to wait on Gabriel Martinelli as Italy try to secure the Arsenal forward's international future.

Martinelli, 18, was born in Guarulhos in Brazil but is said to be eligible to represent Italy through his father.

It was reported on Monday the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) contacted Martinelli to try to convince him to reject Brazil and commit his future to the Azzurri.

Mancini, though, accepts it will take time for the process to be completed.

"In the case of Martinelli, it is not so easy," the Italy boss told reporters on Monday. "You have to submit a request and it may take a long time. It is a long wait for these players who have a double passport."

For now, Mancini is not considering many changes to his squad before Euro 2020.

Italy can qualify for the tournament if they beat Greece on Saturday and Armenia fail to defeat Liechtenstein, and Mancini already has most of his team in mind.

"The group is more or less decided. Two or three players might come in or out, maybe," he said. "If someone is suddenly unavailable then we'll see what happens, but the players who will go to the Euros are all here."

That could prove bad news for Mario Balotelli, who was overlooked for the latest squad and has only made two appearances for Brescia this season.

Mancini, though, suggested his former Manchester City striker could still get back into his plans if he can put together a strong run of performances.

"He's only just come back after months out and he's not quite there physically yet," said Mancini. "He did well against Napoli but he needs to play more games."

Ronald Koeman says Matthijs de Ligt needs to adapt to a new way of defending with Juventus.

The centre-back joined the Serie A champions in July for an initial fee of €75million after a standout season with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax.

He endured a tough debut in Italy's top flight in Juve's dramatic 4-3 win over Napoli but has shown some encouraging signs of a blossoming partnership with Leonardo Bonucci in recent weeks.

Koeman thinks the 20-year-old still needs to take lessons from the "Italian school" of defending, but the Netherlands boss is not surprised to see a player so young still have room for improvement.

"I'm always a big advocate for adapting to your new team, your new country and your new team-mates," Koeman told reporters. "I think he really does need to adapt to a new way of defending, because it's different from the way he played at Ajax. Maybe that's the 'Italian school'.

"Bonucci said the same: he also needs to adapt to this kind of zonal marking [under head coach Maurizio Sarri] instead of the way they defended under [Massimiliano] Allegri. I think Matthijs needs time. But he's already so good at this age. It would be weird if he didn't have to learn anymore.

"Just before the last international break, there was lots of criticism, but he still played really well with the national team. I think this is a very nice environment for him. But with time, I think he'll learn how to adapt to his new position at Juventus as well. I think he can reach a very high level both in our team and at Juventus."

De Ligt's focus for now is on helping Netherlands in their bid to qualify for Euro 2020.

Oranje meet Northern Ireland and Belarus in the international break and will look to close the three-point gap to leaders Germany at the top of Group C.

Koeman is confident in his side's chances of progressing as he considers their squad, particularly their attack, a rival for the world's finest teams.

"I think we have a squad that is equal to the squads of other countries - and I'm talking about the best countries in the world," he said.

"That's also thanks to the development of our attacking players and upcoming talents that aren't with the squad yet. They are so creative, dynamic and quick that they make us more dangerous offensively.

"In the past, that's where we had some problems. But that's also one of the reasons why we selected so many attackers [seven] and only five midfielders instead of six and more attackers. We have more choice than ever before."

Netherlands host Northern Ireland, who are also three points ahead of them, on Thursday before facing Belarus three days later.

Sampdoria have sacked Eusebio Di Francesco after a poor start to the Serie A season left them bottom of the table.

Di Francesco departed on Monday, two days after a 2-0 defeat away to Hellas Verona made it six defeats out of seven league games.

Samp handed Di Francesco a three-year deal in June, with the coach returning to the dugout four months after being let go by Roma.

"The president Massimo Ferrero and Sampdoria announce they have reached a mutual agreement with Eusebio Di Francesco and his technical staff to end their professional relationship," said a club statement.

"The president and his colleagues thank Di Francesco and his staff for their work."

Di Francesco's predecessor Marco Giampaolo is also struggling in Serie A this season with his AC Milan side 13th despite a weekend win at Genoa.

 

Stefano Sensi will miss Italy's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Greece and Liechtenstein due to injury.

The midfielder is unavailable for international duty after he was forced off in the first half of Inter's 2-1 defeat to Juventus in Serie A on Sunday.

Sensi was included by Italy coach Roberto Mancini in his squad for the upcoming fixtures last week, but Italy confirmed on Monday the 24-year-old will now instead remain at his club to undergo treatment.

The Azzurri sit top of Group J with a 100 per cent record, recording six wins from six so far in qualifying.

Sensi was involved in the victories over Armenia and Finland in September, starting the 2-1 triumph against the latter, while he scored his first international goal in a 6-0 thrashing of Liechtenstein back in March.

However, he will not feature in the return fixture next Tuesday, with that game coming three days after Mancini's side host Greece at the Stadio Olimpico.

Inter's 100 per cent start to the Serie A season came to a crashing halt on Sunday as champions Juventus returned to the top of the table with a significant win at San Siro.

Gonzalo Higuain's late strike sealed a 2-1 win for Maurizio Sarri's side as they inflicted a first domestic defeat on Antonio Conte since he joined the Nerazzurri ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

There is a two-week break now for international action before the sides return to domestic duties on the weekend of October 19/20.

Here, Omnisport predicts how both clubs could fare in their first five fixtures upon the resumption of Serie A and how the table might look come mid-November.

 

FAVOURABLE RUN FOR CONTE'S MEN

Predictions for next five fixtures:

- Sassuolo 0-3 Inter

- Inter 2-1 Parma

- Brescia 0-2 Inter

- Bologna 1-3 Inter

- Inter 3-0 Hellas Verona

Inter will be targeting a maximum points return from their five games and there is little reason they cannot achieve that, given the mediocrity of their opponents. They do not face a team that is currently positioned higher than 10th, which should have Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez licking their lips.

Given three of the games are away from home, Conte might remain cautious but there is a great chance to crank up the pressure on Juve.

TRICKY DOUBLE-HEADER AWAITS CHAMPIONS

Juventus 3-1 Bologna

Lecce 0-2 Juventus

Juventus 3-0 Genoa

Torino 1-1 Juventus

Juventus 2-2 AC Milan

Like Inter, Juventus take on a string of sides who have started the season in less than stellar fashion. They should have few problems in their first three games, given two of those sides currently languish in the relegation zone, but it is the games against Torino and AC Milan that could prove tricky.

With speculation mounting that Marco Giampaolo could lose his job at Milan, the Rossoneri might well be under new leadership by the time that fixture rolls around, while Torino will be fired up to get one over on their city rivals. Those factors could be enough to see Sarri's side drop points and hand the title advantage to Inter. 

If our predictions are correct, Inter will hold a three-point lead over Juve by the middle of November. Clearly, the race for the title will be far from over but it might just allow Conte and his men to dream about ending the Bianconeri's eight-year stranglehold on the scudetto.

Marco Giampaolo's time at AC Milan could already be over and the Serie A giants are considering replacements.

Milan overcame Genoa for their third win in seven league games this season, but they are still struggling in 13th in the table.

Giampaolo's stint at the helm at San Siro may be over already after just over three months in charge.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN CONSIDER GIAMPAOLO'S FUTURE WITH PIOLI, SPALLETTI FAVOURITES

Milan are leaning towards sacking Giampaolo despite the win over Genoa, according to CalcioMercato.

SempreMilan reports the club almost sacked Giampaolo at half-time, when the side were trailing before fighting back.

According to Sky Sport, former Inter coaches Stefano Pioli and Luciano Spalletti are favourites for the Milan job.

 

ROUND-UP

- Looking to strengthen in January, Manchester United sent scouts to watch Lyon forward Moussa Dembele against Saint-Etienne on Sunday, according to the Daily Mail. Dembele came off the bench for struggling Lyon in the 1-0 loss.

- Juventus and Inter look set to battle for the Serie A title and they could be fighting elsewhere too. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Italian giants are set to fight to sign Fiorentina forward Federico Chiesa and Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali.

- Leicester City are looking for a replacement for Ben Chilwell as they prepare for clubs to bid for the left-back, according to The Sun, which links Manchester City and Chelsea with £50million moves for the England international.

- Out to improve their defence, Arsenal are targeting Wolves centre-back Willy Boly, according to The Sun. A France youth international, Boly joined Wolves from Porto, initially on loan before the move was made permanent last year.

- Newcastle United could make a move for Nottingham Forest centre-back Joe Worrall in January, The Sun reports. Worrall, 22, is coming out of contract at season's end and the Premier League club could land him on the cheap in early 2020.

Inter head coach Antonio Conte said star striker Romelu Lukaku must train more to be in great shape due to his physique.

Lukaku experienced a quiet game as Inter suffered a 2-1 loss to Serie A rivals Juventus in the Derby d'Italia at San Siro on Sunday.

A club-record signing from Manchester United before the transfer window shut, Lukaku returned to the line-up after missing Wednesday's Champions League defeat against Barcelona due to a muscular problem.

Asked about Lukaku, Conte told reporters: "Romelu is definitely a player that must train more, because being a player with a massive body he needs to train, to play, to be in great shape.

"In this beginning of the season he had this back issue, now he's been dealing with this other quadricep issue since the game against Lazio.

"But I think he gave everything, it's inevitable that against Barcelona we didn't have Lukaku and it was important to have him. And we didn't have him. 

"However, Romelu as well was very committed today, he tried to do his best, and now let's hope he can leave these little issues behind him and be at his 100 per cent."

Lukaku has scored three goals for Inter since arriving from United for a fee understood to be €80million (£73m) in August.

Cristiano Ronaldo revelled in Juventus' victory over rivals Inter as the Serie A champions moved back to the top of the Serie A table.

Juventus leapfrogged Inter at the top with a thrilling 2-1 win in the Derby d'Italia at San Siro on Sunday.

Goals from Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain saw Juve move a point clear of Inter, who saw their perfect start to the league season snapped by the Bianconeri.

Ronaldo, who rattled the crossbar and had a goal ruled out for offside, used Instagram to celebrate Juve's fourth consecutive league victory.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner wrote: "Very strong performance by the team today!

"Great feeling to be on the top of the table again! #finoallafine #forzajuve #liveahead."

A fine fourth-minute goal from Dybala put Juve ahead before Lautaro Martinez equalised via the penalty spot 14 minutes later.

However, Higuain had the final say after coming off the bench and scoring the winner with 10 minutes remaining in Milan.

Juve now top the table heading into the international break, with Maurizio Sarri's men returning to action against Bologna on October 19.

Antonio Conte insisted Inter could not be compared to Juventus after a 2-1 loss in the Derby d'Italia on Sunday.

Paulo Dybala's opener was cancelled out by Lautaro Martinez's 18th-minute penalty at San Siro, but Gonzalo Higuain scored a late winner for Juve.

It ended Inter's perfect start to the Serie A season and saw eight-time reigning champions Juve return to the top.

Despite Inter's bright start, Conte said his growing team should not be compared to Juventus.

"We could certainly have done a lot better, even in the two goals we conceded in Barcelona [in the Champions League] we could have done a lot better," he told Sky Sport.

"I repeat that this is a path of growth with young people who are working hard at the level of experience and of all the situations at the moment. We need to work and there are no shortcuts.

"We must not compare ourselves to Juventus, they are of another category from all points of view. We started working to reduce an important gap."

The result means Juve are the only unbeaten team left in Serie A, holding a one-point lead going into the international break.

Asked about the performances of his front two of Martinez and Romelu Lukaku, Conte felt the duo could have done more.

"Surely in the finalisation we could do something better, but the team arrived, it produced," he said.

"The statistics speak of a very balanced challenge, although the two teams are not on paper."

Maurizio Sarri expressed his pleasure with the way Juventus' players have adapted to his style of play but demanded even more following Sunday's 2-1 victory against Serie A rivals Inter.

Juve made it five consecutive wins and claimed their biggest result yet under head coach Sarri after triumphing in the Derby d'Italia to snap Inter's perfect start to the season.

Lautaro Martinez equalised from the penalty spot at San Siro after Paulo Dybala had justified his selection by firing the visitors into a fourth-minute lead, but Gonzalo Higuain came off the bench to snatch a vital victory for Juve 10 minutes from time.

However, Sarri played down the significance of the victory early in the season – which saw Juve leapfrog Inter atop the table – and said there is still more to come from his players.

"I feel we can still improve a great deal more. It's a gradual process," he told Sky Sport Italia. "The team has strong individuals and so much strength in depth. It means at the moment we can get results, even if we are not playing at 100 per cent.

"Overtaking at the top means little right now. The most significant element is that we played well, with character and determination against a side that had won every game so far.

"We started well and had the right approach in a fiery atmosphere, so that's a good sign."

Matthijs de Ligt gave away the penalty for Inter's equaliser in the top-of-the-table showdown – the young Juve defender blocking Nicolo Barella's cross with a raised arm.

Sarri accepted De Ligt has struggled at times since arriving from Dutch champions Ajax during the close season, not helped by a long-term injury sustained by Giorgio Chiellini in the opening month of the campaign.

"De Ligt doesn't speak Italian well yet, but he is adapting very quickly to our style of football, our type of defending and has enormous potential, but he is still adapting and that brings difficulties," he said.

"Giorgio Chiellini's injury forced us to rush the introduction of this lad and a more gradual process would probably have helped him."

Match-winner Gonzalo Higuain understands why Maurizio Sarri dropped him for Sunday's crucial Serie A clash with Inter and is glad to have made a telling impact from the bench in Juventus' 2-1 victory.

The 31-year-old was brought on just after the hour at San Siro after losing his place in the starting line-up to Paulo Dybala, who justified his selection for the top-of-the-table showdown by brilliantly opening the scoring in the fourth minute.

Lautaro Martinez levelled up from the penalty spot but Higuain proved to be the hero for Juve as he fired a low finish past Samir Handanovic to snatch three vital points late on.

Asked how he felt about being overlooked for a starting spot, Higuain told Sky Sport Italia: "The coach makes his decisions. Paulo had been doing well recently, so it was understandable. 

"All I can do is be ready to help the team when I come on and fortunately I managed it."

Juventus leapfrogged their opponents into top spot after ending the erstwhile leaders' perfect start under Antonio Conte.

"It was a great game from us," Higuain said. "Inter were the most solid side in the league, they had won six out of six.

"We played with great character and determination. I am glad we took it home.

"This is a great start to the season, but it’s still early and we want to fight on all fronts."

Inter enter the two-week break on the back of successive defeats, Conte's men having let slip a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 against Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Centre-back Milan Skriniar played a full part in both matches and admits there are improvements to be made.

"It has been a mixed week because we played not badly in Barcelona and here tonight too," he said. "We kept the ball and created chances, but were unable to score the goals.

"Juve are a strong side, we all knew that. We have a lot to improve and that's the beauty of it - we are constantly learning and developing.

"I think we need to be more aggressive in our defending around the penalty area, as Barcelona were very dangerous there too with their passes. We need to get closer to the forwards."

Gonzalo Higuain sent Juventus top of Serie A - and handed Antonio Conte his first league defeat as Inter boss - as the reigning champions secured a 2-1 victory at San Siro.

Higuain started on the bench but the experienced striker once more came up with the goods for Maurizio Sarri, who he has played under at Napoli and Chelsea, guiding home the winner 10 minutes from time.

Paulo Dybala was deployed in the first XI at his compatriot's expense and took just four minutes to break the Derby d'Italia deadlock, but Lautaro Martinez equalised from the penalty spot after a handball by Matthijs de Ligt.

Although Inter rattled the post through a deflected Matias Vecino shot, a sweeping Juve move ended with Rodrigo Bentancur teeing up fellow replacement Higuain to ensure the Bianconeri remain the only unbeaten side in Italy's top tier.

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