Ireland’s task at Euro 2016 was made a little easier yesterday after Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio was ruled out of the competition.
The 30-year-old, who has 54 Italy caps, was withdrawn during the first half of Juventus’ 4-0 Serie A victory over Palermo and scans have discovered a serious knee injury that should sideline him for at least six months.
As a result Marchisio will miss the Euros where Italy will face Belgium and Sweden before concluding their Group E campaign against the Republic of Ireland.
Confirming Marchisio had ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments, a statement published on juventus.com said the player would undergo surgery in the coming days.
In Spain, Barcelona’s title ambitions were dealt a further blow last night as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Valencia, suffering a third consecutive league defeat for the first time since 2003.
An own goal by Ivan Rakitic gave Valencia a shock lead on 27 minutes and Santi Mina doubled their advantage just before the break.
Lionel Messi scored his 500th career goal for club and country to reduce the deficit midway through the second half, but was unable to inspire a comeback.
Barca remain top of the Primera Division on 76 points but are only ahead of Atletico Madrid due to their superior head-to-head record. Just three weeks ago they led Diego Simeone’s side at the top by nine points.
Last night’s result means Barca have now picked up just one point from their last four league games and, if that was not bad enough, they were also knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Atletico in midweek.
Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, built on their Champions League success over Barcelona by beating Granada 3-0.
Koke opened the scoring in the 15th minute and in the second half teed up Fernando Torres to score for the fourth game in a row to put the hosts further at ease, while substitute Angel Correa grabbed the third late on.
“We have the chance to put in a big performance in Bilbao next week and keep competing in the four games we have left. It will be hard, but we will do what the fixture list demands and asks of us: win, win and win,” Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone said.
Meanwhile, Ireland midfielder Alan Judge missed out on the Championship Player of the Year award last night.
The Brentford ace enjoyed a superb season before a broken leg ended his campaign eight days ago.
Judge was one of three players shortlisted for the Championship Player of the Year award but he was beaten to the gong by Burnley’s Andre Gray.
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