Juventus confirms Paul Pogba returns to training, could play vs Real Madrid next week

Leave a comment

Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri confirmed in a press conference that Paul Pogba has made a full recovery and is back in training, with the aim of playing in next week’s Champions League second leg against Real Madrid.

Pogba tore his hamstring in mid March and many believed he would be sidelined for two months at least, if not the full season. However, it would appear that he’s on his way back, as Allegri hopes to have him available to start next week.

The 22-year-old hasn’t played since injuring himself against Borussia Dortmund in Champions League play. His last league match was a full 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Sassuolo. Since then, Andrea Pirlo has been forced back into a bit more defensive midfield position than he’s used to, and he has proven to be a slight liability in that role. Juventus lost just once in the 26 Serie A matches before Pogba was injured, of which he appeared in 22. Since, the club has lost twice in eight matches he’s missed, but have still managed to clinch the league title.

He could return this weekend as a substitute as Allegri looks to test out his young midfielder’s injury in Serie A play against Cagliari in advance of the Champions League match.

However, the prospect of Pogba returning to the mix next week doesn’t have everyone excited. Former Manchester United player Paul Scholes believes the Italian side shouldn’t risk his health, saying instead Juventus can rest players this weekend in league play and make up for his loss that way.

“I think it would be a little bit rookie to bring Pogba back straight from injury, especially because Juventus played so well,” Scholes said. “I think Juventus have an advantage for the second leg, as well. They’ve already won the league of here and Madrid have a tough game at home [to Valencia]. Juventus can afford to rest players at the weekend after winning the league. They can go into that game [against Real Madrid] nice and rested up next week.”

Holding a 2-1 lead and going on the road against a Real Madrid squad sure to pour on the pressure in the second leg, Pogba would be invaluable to the Italian giants should he be ready.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

@LAGalaxy
Leave a comment

Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.