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Football | Italy

Lazio © Gallo Images

Five things we learnt from Serie A

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has an angry streak and Napoli counterpart Maurizio Sarri hates early rises, although both, unlike colleagues at Lazio and Inter Milan, are heading towards next season's Champions League.

Along with clinical Croatian Nikola Kalinic and Chinese whispers in Milan, here are five things we learned in Serie A:

Angry Allegri can't wait for break

Juventus are quietly pursuing an historic club treble, but it's taking its toll on coach Massimliano Allegri, who lost his cool as the champions laboured to a precious 1-0 win at Sampdoria thanks to Juan Cuadrado's seventh-minute opener.

The visitors largely flattered to deceive in a disorganised second-half, following the loss of playmaker Paulo Dybala in the 27th minute, and Allegri took out his frustration at the error-strewn display by strutting the touchline shouting and swearing before kicking a kit bag.

"The international break is coming at the right time," Allegri said later, before admitting defenders Daniele Rugani and Kwadwo Asamoah had been among the guilty players.

"I got angry with Rugani and Asamoah," he added. "But young players are like kids, you have to follow them closely and, with patience, help them grow."

Sarri hates an early Sunday

It gives fans in Italy the chance to watch a game while savouring their 'antipasto', but Maurizio Sarri hates Serie A's Sunday lunchtime slot.

"We played at a time when no one wants to play," Sarri roared after seeing Napoli resist a spirited fightback by former club Empoli to claim a precious 3-2 away win to remain third, 10 points behind leaders Juventus.

"Everyone agrees, but I'm the only one who has the courage to say it: I hate playing at 1230 (1130 GMT)."

Napoli earned a 3-0 half-time lead thanks to a Lorenzo Insigne brace and a superb free kick by Dries Mertens, who missed a penalty in the opening minutes.

Napoli's nerves were frayed when Empoli hit back late through Omar El Kaddouri, on 70 minutes, and a Massimo Maccarone penalty eight minutes from time.

Inter, Lazio losses dent Champions hopes

Inter Milan and Lazio's pursuit of coveted Champions League spots has been relentless, but both dropped precious points.

Lazio's scoreless stalemate at Cagliari left Simone Inzaghi's men fourth, but they are now six points behind Napoli, in the third and last Champions League spot.

Inter's 2-2 draw at Torino, where England 'keeper Joe Hart had a topsy-turvy performance for the hosts, left the Nerazzurri fifth at two points further off the pace.

Inter are Italy's last European champions, in 2010, but last featured in Europe's premier club competition in 2012.

Cool-hand Kalinic keeps Viola dreaming

If Fiorentina fail to qualify for Europe, it will hardly be a surprise after a comparatively underwhelming second season under Portuguese coach Paulo Sousa.

Indeed, it is only thanks to Nikola Kalinic the Florence club can still dream of Europa League football next season, the clinical Croatian hitting the winner in the 90th minute, or later, to secure 1-0 wins for under-pressure Sousa two weeks in succession.

Fiorentina were heading for their 10th draw of the campaign last week until Kalinic struck in the 92nd minute to seal a 1-0 win at home to Cagliari.

At Crotone on Sunday, Kalinic struck on the stroke of full-time to see Fiorentina close the gap on fifth-placed Inter Milan to seven points.

Raiola's Chinese whispers in Milan

Boasting a portfolio of clients including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Balotelli and Gianluigi Donnarumma, Mino Raiola has orchestrated several moves for players to and from Serie A giants AC Milan and Inter Milan.

And the football 'super-agent' has given the thumbs-down to the Chinese consortium trying to take over AC Milan, Sino-Europe Sports (SES).

SES have made two down payments of 100m euros each totalling 200m euros but since missed several deadlines to close the €740 million takeover of the seven-time European champions.

"I don't know these Chinese, but up till now they've made a shitty impression. On the surface, it doesn't look very positive," Raiola told Gazzetta dello Sport. City rivals Inter Milan are already owned by the Chinese group Suning.


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