Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic believes everyone is “chipping in” at Internazionale as the Serie A leaders prepare for a tricky trip to Udinese on Saturday night.
Roberto Mancini’s side head to the Stadio Comunale Friuli knowing a win on the road will see them extend their lead at the summit to four points, albeit possibly only for 24 hours.
Nearest rivals Fiorentina are away to resurgent champions Juventus tomorrow, while thirdplaced Napoli – who sit two points back of Inter in the table – face Roma earlier on the same day.
A strong defence has been the foundation to Inter’s success this season, with Gonzalo Higuain’s brace in the 2-1 defeat to Napoli the only goals Handanovic has conceded in their past six league matches.
“We’re at the top of the league because everyone is chipping in, from the goalkeeper to the strikers,” the Slovenia international said. “We look a very compact team from where I’m standing on the goal-line.”
Jeison Murillo and Miranda have formed a solid centre-back pairing in front of Handanovic, with the duo drawing comparisons to a great defensive double act from the club’s recent past.
“I know that some have compared myself and Joao Miranda to Lucio and Walter Samuel, the treble-winning partnership,” Murillo told ANSA.
“Now is the time of Miranda and Murillo, two players who have come to Milan with our characteristics and want to do even better.”
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter_en) December 11, 2015
Inter will be without Danilo D’Ambrosio, who is serving a one-match ban after being dismissed in the 1-0 win over Genoa last time out.
Udinese, meanwhile, will be missing Danilo and Felipe dal Belo through suspension. Elsewhere, high-flying Sassuolo host ninth-placed Torino and defender Sime Vrsaljko says his side are “improving every day” but “didn’t expect” to be so high in the table.
The Neroverdi are currently sixth, a point behind champions Juventus and seven away from leaders Inter.
“I didn’t expect to be in this position in the table,” Vrsaljko said. “We have a lot of points, and we want to continue this trend. Sassuolo are improving every day, we want to grow more in the future and see what we can do.
“I want to improve in every way, in every training session I want to push my limits, and in every match I want to do better.”
Two relegation battles see Bologna visit Genoa and Frosinone travel to Palermo. There’s plenty more on the line for Palermo, though, with manager Davide Ballardini rumoured for the chop if his men can’t come away with the win. The 51-year-old is in his second spell at the Sicilian club.
Former team-mates of ex-Rangers midfielder Arnold Peralta led the tributes on Friday after the Honduras international was killed in a shooting in his homeland.
The 26-year-old was found dead in the car park of a shopping centre in the town of La Ceiba, where he lived, according to a statement from the Honduran government’s Ministry of Security.
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Peralta – capped 26 times by his country – signed for Rangers in June 2013, making 29 appearances over an 18-month spell with the Ibrox outfit.
The Ladbrokes Championship club confirmed a minute’s silence will be held before Saturday’s league meeting with Morton, while Mark Warburton’s side will don black armbands as a mark of respect.
The player had only recently celebrated the birth of a daughter with his partner.
Kris Boyd spent six months playing alongside the midfielder, who returned to Honduras to sign for Club Deportivo Olimpia after his Gers exit.
“It’s just tragic,” Boyd said. “I don’t really know the ins and outs of it so all I can do is pass on my condolences to his family.
“He was always somebody who would come into training with a smile on his face. He worked hard and did everything to the best of his ability.
“You sometimes hear about illnesses taking people away from their families, but to lose somebody because they’ve been shot will be harder to take.
“I only knew Arnie for a few months but I knew exactly how he was as a person. The biggest tragedy for me is that there is a partner there now who will have to bring up a child by herself.”
Horrible news this morning, rip Arnie pic.twitter.com/OdjEQrGxTH
— Nicky Clark (@nickyclark91) December 11, 2015
RIP Arnie. Shocking news to wake up to and puts many other things in life into perspective. Thoughts are with his family. #RangersFamily
— Andy Little (@AndyLittle_7) December 11, 2015
— Alejandro silva (@alesilva_89) December 11, 2015
Rangers also released a statement, which said: ” Rangers Football Club is deeply shocked and saddened to hear the tragic news about former player Arnold Peralta.
“The 26-year-old midfielder, who had an 18-month spell at Ibrox and helped the club win the League One title in 2014, was killed in a shooting incident in Honduras (on Thursday night).
“Our thoughts go out to Arnold’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”
Stephen Harvey, a member of the Ibrox club’s backroom staff, said: “Shocked by the news coming through about ‘Arnie’ Peralta. RIP. Thoughts are with his family.”
The Ministry of Security’s statement, reproduced on the website of Honduran newspaper La Prensa, read: “We regret the violent death of the outstanding sportsman Arnold Peralta, a young player of the national team of Honduras.
“The unfortunate incident occurred in the city of La Ceiba, in the parking lot of a shopping centre which has its own private security.”
Robbery was ruled out as a motive for the killing as the statement noted: “At no time was he stripped of his belongings.”
Peralta played at both the 2014 World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics.
His father Carlos told a news conference he was devastated.
He said: ”This is terrible. They killed my exemplary son. I can’t say more because of the pain I feel.”
Peralta joined Rangers from his formative club CD Vida and helped the Glasgow giants win the 2013-14 Scottish League One title but left the club halfway through last season to join Olympia.
Bradford City pulled off one of the most famous League Cup shocks of all-time with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Premier League giants Arsenal in front of a capacity Coral Windows Stadium crowd.
Phil Parkinson’s League Two minnows triumphed 3-2 on spot-kicks in the quarter-final, with Belgian Thomas Vermaelen missing the crucial penalty – as Arsenal’s wretched run of one win in six games continued.
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The Bantams eventually made their way to the final at Wembley, after also knocking out Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa en-route.
But Swansea City proved too strong for Bradford – winning 5-0 – in a victory which ended their 101-year wait for a major trophy.
Here’s what else happened on this day:
1937: The biggest win in the Scottish league in the 20th century was recorded by Second Division side East Fife, who beat Edinburgh City 13-2.
1985: The 21 goals produced in a match between the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks equalled a 65-year-old NHL record for the highest-scoring game. Edmonton won the game 12-9.
2000: Murray Walker, aged 77 and the voice of Formula One for more than 50 years, announced he would retire from commentating at the end of the 2001 season.
2003: Jockey Francis Norton was suspended for four months after a Jockey Club disciplinary hearing into a failed drugs test.
2005: Former New Zealand wing Jonah Lomu made his debut for Cardiff Blues in a 25-10 victory at Calvisano in the Heineken Cup.
2006: Alan Pardew parted company with West Ham, with Alan Curbishley ultimately replacing him as manager at Upton Park.
2008: Corey Pavin was named as the captain of the United States team for the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in 2010.
2011: Luke Donald became the first player to top golf’s money list on both sides of the Atlantic in the same season after winning the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
2012: Arsenal suffered humiliation in the League Cup as they lost on penalties to Bradford, from League Two, after a 1-1 draw at Valley Parade. Bradford went on to beat Aston Villa in the semi-final before losing to Swansea in the final.
2014: McLaren announced Jenson Button would drive for them during the 2015 season, ending weeks of speculation that the Briton could leave the team.