Jose Mourinho said he will remember Roma's last-gasp victory over Sassuolo after celebrating his 1,000th career match in wild fashion.

Mourinho's milestone game ended in the Roma head coach sprinting down the touchline to celebrate Stephan El Shaarawy's 91st-minute winner with the Giallorossi fans in Sunday's 2-1 dramatic success at home to Sassuolo.

Former Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Tottenham boss Mourinho has won 638 of his career matches across all competitions, boasting a 64 per cent winning percentage, to go with 25 titles as a manager.

After Mourinho oversaw Roma's third win from three Serie A fixtures to start the season atop the table, the 58-year-old revelled in the memorable fixture.

"Because during the week I was lying to people, telling everyone this wasn't a special game – perhaps I was trying to convince myself as well," Mourinho, who is in his first season with Roma, said.

"But actually it was – this game had a really special meaning for me. And I am sure I will remember it for the rest of my life, because my 1000th game as a coach was this one.

"I didn't want to lose it, and I was very scared of having that be my lasting memory of the moment. So I was lying to everyone beforehand. It was a very special feeling."

Mourinho – a Champions League, Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A and Primeira Liga winner among other honours – added: "Today it could have finished 6-6 or 7-7, they could have won 2-1, whatever. In the final few minutes Rui Patricio made two or three incredible saves and we missed two or three chances when the goal was gaping. It was an incredible game for the neutral, an absolutely extraordinary match, with so many emotions to it.

"Today I wasn't 58 years old, but 10 or 12 or 14, when you start dreaming about a career in football. Running like I did [down the sideline], I was running like a child. And I apologised to [Sassuolo coach Alessio] Dionisi for that.

"I congratulated him and his players: they played brilliantly. Tonight we won, but if they had won I would not have been able to have any complaints."

It is the first time in Mourinho's illustrious career that he has won the first five games at a club.

"I didn't know that," Mourinho replied when it was put to him. "It's the same as the milestone of 1000 games – I only realised when I was eight or seven short. They are not numbers I'm particularly interested in.

"Obviously I'm happy with the three points, and the great spirit we showed. But we cannot ignore Dionisi and how he must feel: He's a great coach, Sassuolo have a real identity about them – one that comes from De Zerbi, but he has applied his own elements to that. They are a great squad; I realised that as soon as I started studying them.

"These are three massive points for us. Perhaps God decided that I didn't deserve to have a negative memory of this particular game."

Roma, meanwhile, have won six consecutive home games in all competitions for their first time since December 2017 (seven).

Jose Mourinho says Roma's project is about creating a legacy for the club, not for himself.

Mourinho led Inter to the treble during the 2009-10 campaign and his return to Serie A has been successful so far, Roma scoring seven goals across their opening two games for just the second time since the 1970s.

It is also the first time since 2014-15 that they have opened with two Serie A wins, defeating Fiorentina 3-1 and Salernitana 4-0, Mourinho becoming the third coach to win his first two top-flight games with the Giallorossi.

However, the former Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United boss declared his ambitions are secondary to those of the club after replacing Paulo Fonseca.

"It’s not the Mourinho project, it’s the Roma project," Mourinho told Serie A's YouTube channel on Wednesday.

"I know the fans, I know the square and if you think that the project is for me to arrive tomorrow and I win the day after tomorrow, it’s not the right path.

"This is a project in which the owners want to leave a legacy, they want to do something very important for the club in a very sustainable way.

"We want Roma to be successful in the future."

By defeating Fiorentina on the opening day, Mourinho became the fastest manager in Serie A history to reach 50 wins (77 games) in the three points for a win era (since 1994-95).

He also holds the record in the Premier League (63 games) and LaLiga (62 games) and claimed spells in those respective leagues have helped him improve since his last experience with Inter.

"I'm much better now, I’m serious," the 58-year-old continued. "I feel improved now because this is a job where experience counts so much.

"Everything becomes a deja vu because I've been through so many experiences since leaving Italy.

"Of course, it's one thing to come to a country for the first time, where you start from scratch, and you have so many things to learn.

"This is not my case, I know Italy, I know the culture of football. I know about Roma, who were my real rival, fighting with us for the domestic titles. Now I'm ready for this."

Lorenzo Pellegrini said Roma are dreaming of Serie A glory after maintaining their perfect start to the season by routing newly promoted Salernitana 4-0.

Roma captain Pellegrini scored twice as the Giallorossi made it two wins from two matches to open the 2021-22 league campaign on Sunday.

Jordan Veretout and new signing Tammy Abraham were also on target for Roma, who have scored at least seven goals in their first two Serie A matches for just the second time since the 1970s, having defeated Fiorentina 3-1 on matchday one.

Roma have not won the Scudetto since 2000-01, having failed to finish in the top four in 2019 (sixth), 2020 (fifth) and 2021 (seventh).

Former Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter boss Mourinho is in his first season with Roma and after fans were signing about the Scudetto, Italy international Pellegrini told DAZN: "We hope one day to make that dream come true.

"It does feel different this year, we are told to take it one game at a time, and this time it really is the approach we take.

"We will never speak about the next match, no matter how important it is, until this one has been played."

Mourinho became the third Roma head coach to win his first two Serie A games in charge since 2000, after Claudio Ranieri in 2009-10 and Rudi Garcia in 2013-14.

Roma, meanwhile, have won both their first two Serie A games for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

"I'm really pleased, we won a game that wasn't straightforward," said Pellegrini, who has scored five of his last six Serie A goals against newly promoted teams.

"It wasn't easy to find the goal but we managed to do it at the start of the second half and after that it was much easier."

Jose Mourinho declared Roma are establishing a promising squad after landing their second consecutive win in Serie A with a 4-0 victory over Salernitana.

Mourinho's men followed up a 3-1 defeat of Fiorentina with the four-goal rout – just the second time since the 1970s they have scored at least seven goals in their opening two Serie A matches.

It is also the first time they have started a Serie A campaign with successive wins since 2014-15. They were inspired by Henrikh Mkhitaryan who provided another assist on Sunday and has now been directly involved in eight goals in his last six top-flight games.

Mourinho, who is the third coach to win his first two Serie A games with Roma, is satisfied with the progress his side are making.

"It was impossible not to win, I was calm from the first minute because the team played really well," Mourinho told DAZN.

"I arrived happy at Roma, I was happy to be back in Italy and in a team with real fans and people who are passionate.

"I don't want too much time and tranquillity, it would go against my nature. It's not time to finish seventh or eighth, I want to speed up the growth process.

"We are building a good group, I am not saying that I would like to have more quality, but more experience.

"I need a squad and a team that is on the pitch, there are richer squads than ours but I'm working well."

Jose Mourinho declared Cristiano Ronaldo's move back to Manchester United is "perfect business".

In a remarkable turnaround on Friday, United confirmed they had agreed to sign Ronaldo – who left Old Trafford in 2009 – from Juventus.

The 36-year-old is reportedly completing a medical in Lisbon this weekend, with personal terms and a visa to be finalised.

Mourinho, who is now at Roma after an ill-fated spell at Tottenham, managed his compatriot Ronaldo at Real Madrid between 2010 and 2013 and later went on to coach United as well.

Ronaldo had one of his best goalscoring seasons in 2011-12 under Mourinho's tutelage, scoring 60 times across 55 appearances in all competitions.

 

The forward averaged 1.1 goals per appearance, or one every 81.7 minutes. That haul included seven hat-tricks and he also provided 15 assists over the course of the season.

Asked for his thoughts on Ronaldo's swift departure from Serie A, and his United return, former Red Devils boss Mourinho told a news conference: "The only thing I say – and it looks to me something basic and logic – is that if Juventus are happy, if Cristiano is happy and if Manchester United are happy, this is the perfect business.

"I think there is no need to talk about Cristiano.

"There is no need to make any comment about someone who plays, wins, scores and makes history for 20 years."

Ronaldo represents United's fourth addition of the transfer window, following on from Tom Heaton, Jadon Sancho and his former Madrid team-mate Raphael Varane.

Tottenham will face Rennes, Vitesse and NS Mura in the group stage of the inaugural Europa Conference League.

Spurs, with the help of a double from Harry Kane, secured qualification for UEFA's new third-tier club competition with a 3-0 win over Pacos de Ferreira on Thursday.

The presence of Kane, who will be staying at Tottenham despite Manchester City's long-standing interest, is sure to make Spurs one of the favourites to win the tournament.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side were placed into Group G, and have avoided too many arduous journeys, with a trip to Slovenia to face Mura – a team only formed in 2012 – the longest trip in store.

Roma, coached by former Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho, are the tournament's other favourites. The Serie A club will face Zorya Luhansk, CSKA Sofia and Bodo/Glimt in Group C.

The Europa League group stage has been trimmed to 32 teams, with Napoli arguably the headline act.

FA Cup winners Leicester City have been drawn in Group E alongside the Italian giants, as well as Spartak Moscow and Legia Warsaw.

The Premier League's other representatives – West Ham – were drawn in Group H, in which they will face Dinamo Zagreb, Genk and Rapid Vienna.

Steven Gerrard's Rangers were placed into Group A with Lyon, Sparta Prague and Brondby, while Scottish rivals Celtic are in a difficult-looking Group G which includes Bayer Leverkusen, Real Betis and Ferencvaros.

Group E pits Lazio, Marseille, Galatasary and Lokomotiv Moscow up against each other in what promises to be a thriller, while Monaco, PSV, Real Sociedad and Sturm Graz will battle it out for progression from Group B.

The first matches will take place on September 16, with the group stage of both competitions concluding on December 9.

Europa League group stage draw in full:

Group A: Lyon, Rangers, Sparta Prague, Brondby
Group B: Monaco, PSV Eindhoven, Real Sociedad, Sturm Graz
Group C: Napoli, Leicester City, Spartak Moscow, Legia Warsaw
Group D: Olympiacos, Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahce, Royal Antwerp
Group E: Lazio, Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille, Galatasaray
Group F: Braga, Red Star Belgrade, Ludogorets, Midtjylland
Group G: Bayer Leverkusen, Celtic, Real Betis, Ferencvaros
Group H: Dinamo Zagreb, Genk, West Ham, Rapid Vienna

Europa Conference League group stage draw in full: 

Group A: LASK, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Alashkert, HJK Helsinki
Group B: Gent, FK Partizan, Flora, Anorthosis
Group C: Roma, Zorya Luhansk, CSKA Sofia, Bodo/Glimt
Group D: AZ Alkmaar, CFR Cluj, Jablonec, Randers
Group E: Slavia Prague, Feyenoord, Union Berlin,
Group F: Copenhagen, PAOK, Slovan Bratislava, Lincoln Red Imps
Group G: Tottenham, Rennes, Vitesse, Mura
Group H: Basel, Qarabag, Kairat, Omonoia

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho joked that if he could multiply star Lorenzo Pellegrini, they would all be in his starting XI.

Pellegrini has established himself as an integral part of the Roma side since arriving via Sassuolo in 2017, with the Giallorossi captain's exploits reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Liverpool, Juventus and Manchester United.

Among midfielders last season, Pellegrini led Roma in chances created (65), interceptions (43), tackles won (24) and penalty area entries (241), having also scored seven goals and supplied six assists with a passing accuracy of 82 per cent.

In Roma's season-opening 3-1 win over Fiorentina in Serie A last week, the 25-year-old created two chances while boasting a 93.3 passing accuracy, to go with three recoveries, two through balls and five penalty area entries.

Mourinho hailed the Italy international ahead of Thursday's Europa Conference League clash against Turkish visitors Trabzonspor.

"He can do everything," Mourinho told reporters, with Roma leading 2-1 after the first leg.

"If we had three Pellegrini's, they would all be starting the game at the same time. They would never stay all three in the bench.

"He is multifunctional, he can adapt to different roles. The other day when we were 10 he played on the internal part of the right flank and created the chance for Tammy [Abraham] to hit the crossbar.

"He is smart, can understand the game and my ideas. If there were three of him, they would all play."

Jose Mourinho hailed Tammy Abraham an "important player" after the forward assisted twice in Roma's 3-1 defeat of Fiorentina.

Henrik Mkhitarayan's opener was cancelled out by Nikola Milenkovic but a Jordan Veretout brace secured three points for Mourinho on his return to Serie A.

Abraham benefited from VAR twice for his two assists, first rolling in Mkhitaryan before offloading for Veretout to convert his first.

The former Chelsea forward, who only managed one assist in his final 42 league games with the Blues, was preferred ahead of Eldor Shomurdouv but was replaced with just over 20 minutes left.

"It’s not easy to leave someone on the bench, but [Eldour] Shomurodov can play on the left, he can be a forward with Tammy [Abraham] as well," Mourinho told DAZN post-match.

"At this moment, neither of them are in the same condition as the players who worked in pre-season training from the first day, so I figured to use [Lorenzo] Pellegrini behind.

"He is an important player, with the space that was there I thought it was Abraham's game.

"Shomurodov is very dangerous attacking the space, Tammy is more of a reference point, so even if he wasn’t tired at that stage, I would’ve made the substitution a few minutes later anyway.

"We have many different solutions, but at this moment what I like is the spirit, the defensive organisation is getting there, but Fiorentina made it very, very difficult for us."

With Sunday's victory, Mourinho becomes the fastest manager to reach 50 Serie A wins (77 games) in the three points for a win era (since 1994-95).

The former Manchester United manager is also the fastest to reach such a mark in the Premier League (63 games) and LaLiga (62 games).

Jose Mourinho is already finding the nuance in Italian news conferences a mixed blessing after the Roma boss was served a tactical puzzler ahead of the Serie A season opener.

The former Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham manager suggested he had been pining for Italy while working in the Premier League last season, due to frustration with the English media.

But when faced with a question about Roma's full-backs struggling to deliver effective crosses in the European clash with Trabzonspor on Thursday, Mourinho initially suggested he did not want to answer.

"I will start with a joke," he told reporters. "In England I always used to say that I missed the press conferences in Italy, because here we talk more about tactics – whereas they only want to talk about controversies.

"Now I'm back in Italy, though, I don't want to talk about tactics because you are too good at it!"

But Mourinho went on to give a full answer to the enquiry, admitting Roma "messed up" several crosses and concluding his team would "try to build up our attacking play so we have a number of different options".

Roma edged their Europa Conference League game 2-1 in Turkey, and on Sunday they begin their Serie A campaign with a home test against Fiorentina.

Tammy Abraham could make his debut in that game, Mourinho confirmed, even though the striker has been unable to train with his new team-mates due to pandemic restrictions on his involvement since arriving from Chelsea.

"Tomorrow he will be in the squad," Mourinho said, as quoted by Roma's official website.

"He has not trained this week with the team, he's been training alone because those are the current rules. But he has played pre-season at Chelsea, he's played in some decent games with them and I think he's physically ready to play.

"It's been a tough week for him, though, with all the travelling and the medical tests and the paperwork that has had to be signed. But he will be with us. We have three forwards: Borja [Mayoral], him, Eldor [Shomurodov]. I am delighted to have them."

Mourinho made a cutting remark ahead of the Trabzonspor game by complimenting the work of the Turkish club's ground staff and suggesting on Instagram that those responsible for the state of Roma's own pitch were on holiday.

Returning to the issue on Saturday, Mourinho said: "In England the climate helps a lot with the quality of the pitches, and that is true in other aspects too – so it is a little difficult to compare England with other places.

"The pitch was not good last week, and I have my doubts about whether it will be great tomorrow – but I have confidence in the professionalism and pride of those whose job it is to work on it.

"For sure, the week after, when Lazio play at home, the pitch will be in even better condition for them.

"So, there should be a bit of pressure applied from everyone, not just from my Instagram – which is a bit of a mean Instagram where I have no filter. I think something, and I just post it. No-one can control me.

"With a little pressure from us all we can make the fields at a better level. When I look at the level of the coaches who are in Serie A and others who are no longer there like Conte, Gattuso and Ranieri, I think we all want quality football and therefore we also need quality pitches."

The 2021-22 Serie A campaign commences on Saturday following a busy close season that saw more than half of the 20 teams change head coach.

Antonio Conte departed Inter after guiding the club to their first Scudetto in more than a decade, with Simone Inzaghi being plucked from Lazio, who in turn turned to Maurizio Sarri.

Sarri's former club Juventus decided to end the Andrea Pirlo experiment after just a year and opted for a familiar face in six-time title winner Massimiliano Allegri as his replacement.

Luciano Spalletti is back in Serie A with Napoli, meanwhile, and Jose Mourinho has returned to Italy with Roma some 11 years on from his hugely successful stint with Inter.

There will be just as much focus on the dugouts as the field when the new season gets up and running this weekend, then, and some coaches are facing a tougher challenge than others.

Stats Perform looks at what the managerial changes could mean for some of Serie A's biggest clubs.


Inter 

In: Simone Inzaghi

Out: Antonio Conte

Conte will go down in Inter folklore as the man who ended the club's 11-year wait to return to the top of Italian football.

In an ideal world, one in which the Nerazzurri were not in a position whereby they had to sell star players to balance the books, Conte would still be in charge at San Siro.

As it is, though, Inzaghi will be at the helm this coming season and is in a rather unenviable position of having to pick up where Conte left off, minus the goals of Romelu Lukaku.

Inzaghi has his own vision but does not differ too much from Conte in terms of tactics, both coaches favouring a 3-5-2 formation of sorts throughout their careers.

Moving the ball forward quickly will be the aim, with Milan (90) the only side in Serie A last term to register more direct attacks than Inzaghi's former side Lazio (89). By comparison, Inter were third on that list with 80.

While the structure will remain largely the same, losing Lukaku and influential wing-back Achraf Hakimi – albeit with Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries arriving – means Inzaghi will need to get more out of others if Inter are to retain their crown.

 

Lazio

In: Maurizio Sarri

Out: Simone Inzaghi

The man tasked with replacing Inzaghi at Lazio is Sarri, who endured mixed fortunes during his most recent two stints in Serie A with Napoli and Juventus.

Having come so close to ending Juve's stranglehold on the title in 2017-18 while at Napoli, the 62-year-old won the Europa League in his solitary season at Chelsea and was then given just 14 months at the Allianz Stadium.

His stint in Turin came to an early end despite leading Juve to top spot, his style of play – coined 'Sarriball' – deemed too distant from what Juventus typically expect from a head coach (more on that later!).

At the Stadio Olimpico, Sarri will have more freedom to put his spin on things as he looks to build or improve upon last season's sixth-placed finish. A back four, rather than the three-man defence Inzaghi favoured, can be expected.

Sarri teams are known for their verticality, meaning they like to move the ball forwards. Lazio, as already touched upon, are a good fit in that regard.

They ranked lowest in the top eight last season for build-up attacks (83), which is defined as the number of open play sequences that contain 10 or more passes and either ends in a shot or has at least one touch in the opposition box.

The big question, though, is whether Sarri has the personnel to turn Lazio into top-four regulars in the same way he did at Napoli. With Immobile taking on the Gonzalo Higuain role up top, it might just be a possibility.

Juventus

In: Massimiliano Allegri

Out: Andrea Pirlo

While a lot of clubs mentioned are entering the unknown with their managerial appointments, Juve know exactly what they are getting in Allegri.

The 54-year-old guided Juve to five straight Serie A titles and two Champions League finals between 2014 and 2019, having also previously lifted the Scudetto at Milan.

Only one coach in the Bianconeri's history, Giovanni Trapattoni, has overseen more league games than Allegri's 190, while Juve's two highest-scoring seasons dating back as far as 1930 have both come under the stewardship of the returning favourite.

This Juve side has changed since Allegri's first stint, though, and it may take him time to make this team his own again following the aforementioned reigns of Sarri and Pirlo.

Whereas Sarri and Pirlo were a little complex with their tactics and what they expected from players, Allegri will take a different approach. That is not to say Juve will not be able to chop and change things under Allegri, as they did in his previous spell.

One aspect that will surely differ from last season is the number of goals Juve score. They found the net an underwhelming 56 times from open play last season from an expected goals return (xG) of 54.3.

By comparison, champions Inter scored 65 open play goals from a near identical xG as Juve of 54.6. With the prolific Cristiano Ronaldo set to stay at the club for at least one more season, there is hope of reclaiming the title this time around.

 

Roma

In: Jose Mourinho

Out: Paulo Fonseca

The highest-profile of the incoming coaches in Serie A this season, Mourinho arrives with his 'Special One' status still intact in Italy thanks to his success at Inter a little over a decade ago.

Mourinho won as many league titles in two seasons at San Siro (two) as he has in the 11 years since (one), while also lifting the second of his Champions League crowns, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana during that trophy-laden stay.

The Portuguese won 62 per cent of his matches at Inter but that win rate has steadily declined and he won just 51.2 per cent of his games with Tottenham, leaving the club in April after just 17 months in charge.

Mourinho's sides were so often hard to beat, but Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him, making it his worst ever season in that regard and he did not even see it all the way through.

But could his career take a turn in the right direction in Rome? Mourinho's tactics have remained largely consistent throughout his career, no matter the club or country he is coaching in.

The back three largely favoured by Paulo Fonseca will become a back four and there will be particular emphasis on Bryan Cristante, a typical Mourinho player in many ways, to shield the defence and get the ball forward.

The addition of Tammy Abraham from Chelsea is clearly a Mourinho signing, helping the fill the void left by Edin Dzeko, but Mou's pragmatic approach is surely a concern for a Roma side that looked better offensively than defensively last season. 

Finding the correct balance will be key, and that ultimately depends on whether Roma have hired the pre-2015 Mourinho or post.

Napoli

In: Luciano Spalletti

Out: Gennaro Gattuso

With spells at seven different Italian clubs under his belt, including two years at Inter, Spalletti certainly does not lack of experience. After two years out of the game, however, the 62-year-old has to quickly prove he is not yesterday's man.

Spalletti made clear when he took over from Gennaro Gattuso that he will look to operate with a 4-3-3, though on the basis of pre-season it may well be a more familiar 4-2-3-1 come the opening day.

He inherits a talented squad that includes the likes of Piotr Zielinski, Victor Osimhen, Dries Mertens, Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne – for now – in attack.

Napoli had no problems scoring goals last time out, with no team managing more shots from open play than their 493 and only Atalanta (77) and Inter (65) scoring more from non-set-piece situations than their 64.

Pressing is a big part of Spalletti's game and that makes Napoli a good fit as they ranked joint-second in Serie A last season for goals scored from high turnovers (nine), behind only Atalanta (10).

There are already a few rumblings of discontent behind the scenes with regards to transfer activity, but a kind fixture list ensures that Spalletti can hit the ground running in his quest to guide Napoli back into the Champions League.

Barely a month has passed since Giorgio Chiellini lifted the European Championship trophy at Wembley, and it would seem logical to expect Serie A to begin amid high fanfare.

This may prove to be the case, as the opening weekend of the season arrives, but a major talent drain from the Italian league since last term cannot be ignored.

Romelu Lukaku, Cristian Romero and Gianluigi Donnarumma have all moved on, swapping Inter, Atalanta and Milan respectively for Chelsea, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain.

To put those losses into greater context, of the 2020-21 Serie A end-of-season award winners, that is the MVP, the top defender and the leading goalkeeper all exiting the league.

Sweeping changes on the coaching benches also add to uncertainty as the new campaign begins, with a much-changed Inter hoping to successfully defend their title.


JUVE ON A SCUDETTO MISSION

After the folly of handing dugout rookie Andrea Pirlo the reins before last season, Juventus look to be on firmer ground this time with Massimiliano Allegri back as head coach.

They have brought in Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo, primed to play a Pirlo-like role on the pitch, and it seems Cristiano Ronaldo will hang around for the final year of his contract.

Rumours continue to encircle the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, but Allegri can likely count on his reliable flow of goals, just as he did for the 2018-19 season – Ronaldo's debut campaign in Turin and the end of the line for Allegri in his first stint as coach.

A six-time Scudetto winner, Allegri will look to get the best out of wingers Dejan Kulusevski and Federico Chiesa as they enter their second seasons with the Bianconeri, while it remains to be seen how Paulo Dybala performs as he enters the final year of his deal.

Plagued by injury last season, Dybala started just 14 Serie A games, but results were often perkier when he played. Of those 14 games, Juventus won 10, drew three and lost one, with a points-per-game average of 2.4 when he played from the off, compared to 1.9 when he was absent or a substitute. The win percentage of 71.4 per cent when Dybala was in the starting XI (compared to 54.2 per cent when he was not) is in the ball park that Allegri will be eyeing.

 


INZAGHI STEPS INTO CONTE SHOES

Social media tells us Antonio Conte has been thoroughly enjoying his summer, topping up his tan and seemingly showing no regret over his Inter exit, which came in May, just weeks after he guided the Nerazzurri to title glory.

Conte reportedly left amid concern the club planned to raise funds with sales that have duly come to fruition. The loss of striker Lukaku feels like a body blow, given his influence, and persistent rumours suggest Lautaro Martinez could also move on. Achraf Hakimi is another big loss, but, as with Lukaku, a big fee was banked as the right-back proved a one-season wonder in Italy.

In have come coach Simone Inzaghi, who impressed at Lazio, while Edin Dzeko will be a straight swap for Lukaku in the forward line, albeit unlikely to carry quite the same threat. Former PSV star Denzel Dumfries can replace Hakimi in the attacking right full-back role, and Inter will hope his Euro 2020 form transfers to Serie A duty.

It is hard to see Inter repeating last season's success, and the comedown could be painful. They exceeded their expected goals total last season, scoring 84 goals against an xG of 75.3, and Inzaghi will look for more of the same.

They possess plenty of quality still, but they have likely lost Christian Eriksen for the long term too after his cardiac arrest on Denmark duty at Euro 2020. His survival was everything in June, and now his recovery is all-important. The knock-on effect is that Inter have lost a player who became important over the second half of the season.

So much has changed since that title was secured. Landing Hakan Calhanoglu on a free from Milan looks like great business, but consolidation with a top-four finish may be their limit in the new campaign. That, and being sure to secure city bragging rights again.

 


MOURINHO'S BACK AMID MERRY-GO-ROUND

Never mind Inzaghi and Allegri at Inter and Juve, now is the time to get used to the sound of Maurizio Sarri's Lazio, Vincenzo Italiano's Fiorentina, Luciano Spalletti's Napoli ... and Jose Mourinho's Roma. Milan rather feel like the odd ones out, keeping faith with Stefano Pioli.

A whirlwind of change has swept through Serie A, and it will be worth watching to see quite what impact Mourinho can have on a side who finished 16 points short of the Champions League places last term.

His 'Special One' reputation was enhanced the last time he coached in Italy, guiding Inter to a treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League in the 2009-10 campaign.

Spells at Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham have followed, but Mourinho's cachet has diminished over the past decade.

Tammy Abraham has followed him in swapping London for Rome, with the Chelsea striker arriving, along with Eldor Shomurodov from Genoa, to pep up an attack depleted by the loss of Dzeko. Rui Patricio has joined fellow Portuguese Mourinho, and the goalkeeper's arrival from Wolves could prove a fine signing.

Roma won just five Serie A away games last term, and have only had fewer once in a season beginning in the 20th century (4 in 2002-03), while their shot conversion rate of 41.35 per cent can be improved upon, given they topped 50 per cent twice in the 2010s.

Most important for Mourinho, perhaps, will be to build on Roma's poor duel success rate (48.97 per cent) and cutting out the errors leading to goals (10 in 2020-21 in Serie A).

The duel figures are important and were the worst Roma had managed in at least 15 years, while the error count will be simply intolerable to the new boss. Only Bologna committed so many costly errors (also 10). Mourinho has his work cut out.

Jose Mourinho hailed the ambition shown by Tammy Abraham after the forward joined Roma from Chelsea on Tuesday.

Abraham has signed a five-year contract with the Serie A club to fill the void left by Edin Dzeko's departure to Inter.

Roma paid €40million (£34.1m) to secure the services of a player who made his Chelsea debut in 2016 and has played six times for his country.

Mourinho believes leaving the Premier League behind for a new challenge shows Abraham has lofty aspirations.

"With Tammy, I prefer to say, 'wait and see'," Mourinho said in a video posted on Roma's Twitter account.

"I say that with total confidence. I've known him since he was a boy. He's never played for me because he was a 14, 15, 16-year-old boy when I was at Chelsea, but I know him very well.

"I know him as a player, a person and in terms of his mentality. I know how he made the decision to leave the Premier League, which is always tough for an English player.

"That tells me so much about him, because when you leave the Premier League, you do so because you're ambitious.

"You leave because you want to get back in your national team, because you want to play at the World Cup, because you want success outside of England, where not many English players have had brilliant careers. 

"He comes here with that ambition and we hope to see his best qualities as a player."

Chelsea will reportedly receive a further €5m in add-ons and have an option to re-sign the 23-year-old, who fell further down the pecking order when Romelu Lukaku returned to Stamford Bridge.

After scoring 15 Premier League goals for the Blues in the 2020-21 season when Frank Lampard was in charge, Abraham saw his opportunities diminish under Thomas Tuchel last term.

The 23-year-old started only three league fixtures following the appointment of Tuchel in late January, while he did not feature at all in the knockout stages of the Champions League as Chelsea went on to lift the trophy in Porto.

He also missed out on England's squad for Euro 2020, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin preferred by Gareth Southgate as a direct back-up to Harry Kane.

Abraham will be hoping to have similar success in Serie A as another England international, Chris Smalling, who rejuvenated his career with a loan switch to Roma in 2019-20, which was made permanent last year.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has been sent off as tempers boiled over in the 5-2 pre-season friendly defeat to Real Betis on Saturday.

The former Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United boss stormed on to the pitch and approached the referee to protest a dubious Betis goal.

The incident occurred with the match at 2-2 with Alex Moreno awkwardly netting for Betis appearing to use his arm, but the referee did not disallowed the goal prompting Mourinho's strong reaction despite the friendly's relative insignificance.

Mourinho was red carded for his actions along with Lorenzo Pellegrini before Roma had two more players and two more assistant coaches dismissed and conceded two more goals to lose 5-2.

The Portuguese took over at Roma in the off-season, as the Giallorossi look to improve on last season's seventh-place finish in Serie A.

Roma commence their 2021-22 Serie A campaign against Fiorentina on Sunday 22 August.

Jose Mourinho's Roma tenure started with a 10-0 rout of minnows Montecatini in a training match on Thursday.

Having been sacked by Tottenham, former Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Inter boss Mourinho was appointed as Roma's new head coach in May, replacing compatriot Paulo Fonseca.

Mourinho's first competitive match in charge will come in Roma's Serie A opener against Fiorentina in August, and the Giallorossi made an emphatic start to their pre-season against Serie D side Montecatini.

Borja Mayoral scored a hat-trick, with his first goal coming after Carles Perez and Gianluca Mancini struck to put Roma 2-0 up.

Riccardo Calafiori netted a swift follow up and an own goal from Montecatini put Roma 5-0 ahead at the break.

Nicolo Zaniolo converted a penalty after Mayoral helped himself to a second, with the Real Madrid loanee completing his hat-trick after Nicola Zalewski and Amadou Diawara had got on the scoresheet.

Serie B newcomers Ternana are next up for Roma, who face Serie C outfit Triestina three days later before rounding off their pre-season preparations with friendlies against Debrecen, Mourinho's former club Porto and Real Betis.

Inter face a reunion with former boss Jose Mourinho during a potentially tricky run of games from the end of September to early December as Simone Inzaghi's side attempt to retain their Serie A crown.

The Nerazzurri finished top of the pile in Italy last season for the first time in 11 years, though there has since been a change in the dugout as Antonio Conte stepped down and has been replaced by ex-Lazio boss Inzaghi.

Inzaghi's first competitive match in charge will be at home to Genoa on the opening weekend of the season, currently scheduled for the week ending August 22.

Inter have what looks to be a kind start to the campaign on paper, with their first meeting against one of last season's top six coming at home to Atalanta on matchday six at the end of September.

Inzaghi will travel to Lazio, whom he was in charge of for five years before departing for Inter in June, on matchday eight and will welcome his former employers to San Siro at the start of 2022.

The first Mourinho meeting comes late in year. He won the treble with Inter in 2009-10, and the Nerazzurri travel to Roma on December 5.

Roma then visit San Siro for the reverse fixture in April.

In terms of other headline fixtures, the Scudetto holders face rivals and last season's runners-up Milan in the week ending November 7 and again in the first week of February.

That first game with Stefano Pioli's side comes two weeks on from a showdown with Juventus and is followed by the visit of Napoli in their next match, albeit with an international break sandwiched between.

Inter conclude their campaign with a home match against Sampdoria in the week ending May 22.

Speaking after the 2021-22 fixture list was released on Wednesday, Inzaghi told his new club's official website: "We're working to make sure we're ready for our opening Serie A game.

"It's going to be an interesting, exciting match against Genoa. We'll be playing our first one at home and we want to get off on the right foot.

"In any case for now we're just focusing on preparing as best we possibly can while waiting for the players involved in the Euros and Copa America to return."

Inter's Serie A fixtures in full, subject to change:

22/08/2021 - Genoa (h)
29/08/2021 - Hellas Verona (a)
12/09/2021 - Sampdoria (a)
19/09/2021 - Bologna (h)
22/09/2021 - Fiorentina (a)
26/09/2021 - Atalanta (h)
03/10/2021- Sassuolo (a)
17/10/2021 - Lazio (a)
24/10/2021 - Juventus (h)
27/10/2021 - Empoli (a)
31/10/2021 - Udinese (h)
07/11/2021 - Milan (a)
21/11/2021 - Napoli (h)
28/11/2021 - Venezia (a)
01/12/2021 - Spezia (h)
05/12/2021 - Roma (a)
12/12/2021 - Cagliari (h)
19/12/2021 - Salernitana (a)
22/12/2021 - Torino (h)
06/01/2022 - Bologna (a)
09/01/2022 - Lazio (h)
16/01/2022 - Atalanta (a)
23/01/2022 - Venezia (h)
06/02/2022 - Milan (h)
13/02/2022 - Napoli (h)
20/02/2022 - Sassuolo (h)
27/02/2022 - Genoa (a)
06/03/2022 - Salernitana (h)
13/03/2022 - Torino (a)
20/03/2022 - Fiorentina (h)
03/04/2022 - Juventus (a)
10/04/2022 - Hellas Verona (h)
16/04/2022 - Spezia (a)
24/04/2022 - Roma (h)
01/05/2022 - Udinese (a)
08/05/2022 - Empoli (h)
15/05/2022 - Cagliari (a)
22/05/2022 - Sampdoria (h)

Page 1 of 12
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.