Four months after an Italian court reduced a ban that was to last the entire season, Juventus coach Antonio Conte is set to return to the sidelines tomorrow as the Bianconeri travel to Palermo. Barred to this point for failing to report match fixing during his time at Bari, Conte returns to find his team in first place, scarcely worse off than when he last coached them in May. While Juventus’s unbeaten run has ended, they are still top of Serie A and arguably in a better position than last year, when a propensity for draws kept them neck-and-neck with Milan for most of the season.
Despite already accumulating two losses, Juventus is probably a better team than last year. Then, the Old Lady didn’t have to balance Europe with domestic concerns. This year, they finished first in their Champions League group while maintaining their lead in Italy. They’re scoring more goals, averaging over two per game, and while they’re also giving up more, they’re on pace to put up a +55 difference. Last year, the finished at +48.
Since all that has been done without Conte on the sideline, it’s worth asking where a coach’s value lies. Though Conte’s been suspended, he has been running the team, simply demurring at game time to leave the in-match duties with technical director-turned-stand-in coach Massimo Carrera and assistant Angelo Alessio. The set up is his. The approach is his. The vision is his. The only things that aren’t his are the in-game adjustments.
Perhaps with those in-game adjustments, Juventus would still be undefeated, but Conte’s situation reminds us most of a coach’s work happens before the game starts. Most often it’s in the preparation that men win matches, and that’s where Conte’s influence has continued to be felt.
Juventus’s stars have talked up the boost Conte’s return will bring, and perhaps psychologically, it will. But with a 11-2-2 Juventus sitting on top of the league, it’s hard to think they’ve missed Conte that much.
Of course, that’s because he’s been there all along.
Victor Guzman used Pachuca’s first shot on target of the game to score the deciding goal in stoppage time, and Tuzos are champions of Liga MX after a 1-1 draw in Sunday’s second leg of the Liga MX Liguilla final versus Monterrey.
[ MORE: Kidnapped Pulido freed by police ]
Pachuca entered the game with a 1-0 lead, but found things level early before going down a man. But Guzman out-jumped USMNT left back Edgar Castillo for the title-winning goal, giving fellow U.S. back Omar Gonzalez his first Liga MX crown.
Here’s the goal:
Gonzalez was left out of Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man roster for the Copa America Centenario, which begins Friday against Colombia. Castillo was, too, but was called into replace injured Timmy Chandler.
We doubt Gonzalez is thinking about that much right now. He’s more likely thinking about dancing some more:
There’s been a quick resolution to the kidnapping of Olympiacos and Mexico striker Alan Pulido, who has been freed by police after a “rescue operation”.
Pulido was kidnapped early Sunday while leaving a party with his girlfriend. Their car was blocked from advancing by the kidnappers, and his girlfriend was let go.
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The kidnapping lasted for several hours, as police organized quickly to find the 25-year-old striker.
From the BBC:
Pulido, 25, appeared with a bandaged hand and told reporters he was “very well”.
Officials said the rescue operation was carried out on Sunday night, without giving more details.
The high profile case clearly took priority, and tracking down this kidnapping victim was apparently fairly simple. Good to see.
PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier has been arrested following an argument with police after a night out in a Paris, a police official told The Associated Press on Monday.
The official said Aurier was arrested at 5:50 a.m. local time after he spent the night at a club with friends near the Champs-Elysees. The official said Aurier was put in a holding cell for “using violence on a police officer.”
The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly of the case.
[ MORE: Kidnapped Pulido freed after police operation]
PSG officials said the club will wait until receiving further information before making any comment on the incident, “which did not take place during a competition period.”
Aurier was suspended for six weeks in February after a video emerged on social media showing him making derogatory comments about PSG coach Laurent Blanc, striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and other players.
The Ivory Coast defender is widely regarded as one of the best right backs in Europe.
Kasper Schmeichel is a Premier League-winning goalkeeper, just like his even-more-famous father, Peter, and no one can ever take that away from him.
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What can always be taken from the big Danish shot-stopper, though, is his starting job at Leicester City. That’s where Ron-Robert Zieler, a six-times-capped goalkeeper and 2014 World Cup winner with Germany, comes into play.
27 years old and out of contract after the expiration of his deal with Hannover, Zieler is set to become the Foxes’ first signing of the summer as Claudio Ranieri and Co. prepare to defend their PL title next season. (It’s still weird to say that, in case you were wondering.)
[ MORE: Rashford to be handsomely rewarded for breakout season ]
Zieler arrived in Leicester on Sunday, according to Hannover’s official website, and was set to undergo a medical examination before signing a long-term contract. An established Bundesliga starter since the age of 22 (started all 34 league games each of the last five seasons), Zieler will arrive at the King Power Stadium with expectations far loftier than those of the man he’ll battle for the starting job next season, if not comparable name recognition.
With neither ‘keeper north of 30 years old as of yet (Schmeichel will turn 30 in November), it would seem that Ranieri can do no wrong in choosing either one of the combatants his no. 1 ahead of the 2016-17 season.