Giampaolo at risk as gap grows between AC Milan and Inter

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              AC Milan's manager Marco Giampaolo follows the game during a Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Fiorentina, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
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MILAN (AP) — The differences between AC Milan and Inter Milan could not be much starker.

Inter prepared for Wednesday’s Champions League match at Barcelona by winning 3-1 at Sampdoria to maintain its perfect start to the season. It is only the second time the Nerazzurri have won the first six rounds of the Serie A season, the other being in 1966-67.

AC Milan, meanwhile, was humiliated 3-1 at home by Fiorentina and has now lost four of its first six matches, something that hadn’t happened since 1938-39.

Both teams have new coaches, but while Antonio Conte has been lauded for revitalizing Inter, Milan coach Marco Giampaolo is at risk of losing his job.

Milan looked toothless on Sunday and was loudly jeered by its own fans, most of whom left with 10 minutes remaining.

Giampaolo was at a loss to explain his side’s performance, saying “the team played like they had never been coached.”

Milan directors Paolo Maldini, Zvonimir Boban and Frederic Massara reportedly stayed at San Siro well into the early hours of Monday in crisis talks.

Italian media said Claudio Ranieri or Rudi Garcia could take over, or even Gennaro Gattuso, who left at the end of last season.

“The coach was a mutual decision and I will always defend him,” Maldini said after the match. “We have a young team, we knew we were running risks.

“Obviously, four defeats in six matches is too much and the quality of our play is not good enough,” he said. “We hoped we’d do better, but it’s right to give him time.”

Giampaolo’s time could be up if the Rossoneri lose at Genoa on Saturday.

DEFENSIVE WOES

Napoli again had defensive problems in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Brescia.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side has let in 10 goals in the opening six Serie A rounds — more than any of the top 12 teams apart from Fiorentina.

Moreover, injuries to Nikola Maksimovic and Kostas Manolas forced Elseid Hysaj and Giovanni Di Lorenzo into a makeshift center-back pairing that came under siege from Brescia attackers.

Maksimovic pulled a hamstring, while Manolas had tightness in a muscle.

Napoli visits Genk in the Champions League on Wednesday.

“It’s not an easy time but we have options,” Ancelotti said. “I think Manolas will be OK, but we don’t know yet. We’ll have to wait and see in training.”

Kalidou Koulibaly will be available to play against his former team. The Napoli defender is currently serving a two-match ban in Serie A following his red card against Cagliari.

WOMEN’S SOCCER

In contrast to the recent episodes which have plagued the men’s game, Italy coach Milena Bertolini believes there is no racism in women’s soccer.

The fledgling Serie A season has already seen several incidents of black players being racially abused, drawing global condemnation.

“There is no racism in women’s soccer,” Bertolini said. “Maybe because there is less media interest or maybe because the very nature of female competitions is a nature in which the actual game is still prevalent, the passion for the game is still prevalent.

“So when you go to see a women’s match there is a very relaxed atmosphere, and one of a party,” she said.

Italy is preparing for two qualifying matches for the 2021 European Championship. It visits Malta on Friday before hosting Bosnia-Herzegovina four days later.