With Juventus ready to play French side Monaco this afternoon, it appears as though midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo will return to action.
The 35-year-old has not played since injuring his calf in the first leg against Borussia Dortmund back in February. He missed the second leg plus six Serie A league games, but looks ready to return to the playing field.
Juventus underwent its final light training earlier this morning in Turin, and Pirlo was a part of the action, according to Football Italia. The Italian publication has an entire predicted lineup from allegedly watching this morning’s training, which puts Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal alongside the bearded wonder.
The Bianconeri rested a host of players this weekend against Parma, and it cost them a 1-0 loss as not only Pirlo missed out but so did Carlos Tevez, Gianluigi Buffon, Alvaro Morata, Patrice Evra, and . The goal Juventus gave up was the first they’ve conceded since March 2.
Juventus is still without Paul Pogba, sidelined with a torn hamstring that may keep him sidelined until at least the end of April and potentially into May as well, meaning he would not only miss both legs of the quarterfinals, but potentially some or all of the semifinals should the Italian club advance. This could be a major factor in Massimiano Allegri’s decision to bring Pirlo back a hair sooner than expected.
Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is keeping his cool about the Foxes’ decent start to the Premier League season.
The Foxes beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Saturday to move back into the Top Four, four points behind leaders Liverpool.
[ MORE: Match recap | Pochettino reacts ]
Leicester has now beaten Spurs, Bournemouth, and Sheffield United, drawn Wolves and Chelsea, and lost away to Manchester United last week (in a match it was arguably superior to the hosts).
Rodgers loved his team’s day, which was challenged by VAR taking away goals from both sides, but knows the big picture is a big challenge.
“A brilliant team performance,” he said. “Very early days, we have had a tough start. We will get into the New Year and see where we are February, March.”
As for VAR, Rodgers saw an early Leicester goal pulled back for offside, but the system also determined that Heung-Min Son was offside by the finest bit of his rotator cuff before Serge Aurier made it 2-0 to Spurs.
Back to 1-0, Leicester equalized within moments through Ricardo Pereira before James Maddison scored a wonder-strike to win it for the hosts.
“It’s what happens with VAR, you have to get your head round it. It works for you and against you. Worked both ways for us today. … We spoke with the players in pre season about VAR. You have to deal with it, sometimes for you and against you. Have to accept it and move on. It was a very important three points.”
Mauricio Pochettino worked a marvel with the English language in describing how VAR affected the late stages of Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 loss to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
Spurs looked to have doubled its home lead with 20 minutes to play when Serge Aurier belted a far post shot past the reach of Kasper Schmeichel, but a lengthy video review showed Heung-Min Son‘s shoulder was maybe possibly offside.
[ RECAP: Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham ]
Clear and obvious? Mehhhhhhh.
Pochettino, oddly enough, chose not to debate the call but instead focused on the momentum he believes it provided to Leicester City en route to Ricardo Pereira‘s near-immediate answer and James Maddison‘s late winner.
“After 80 minutes, the game was going to be over. You gave massive belief to the team that was already dead. After we conceded the goal 1-1, we had some chances to score the second goal, but that’s what makes the Premier League the most beautiful league. You can never stop.”
He was optimistic on the overall performance following a disheartening 2-2 draw with Olympiacos at midweek, as Spurs threw away a 2-0 first half lead over the Greek hosts.
“Very disappointed because we lost the three points but in thinking the big picture I am very optimistic because the team showed great reaction after Olympiacos.”
Meanwhile, much of the rest of Twitter’s soccer world was a bit less forgiving of VAR. Even Leicester City legend Gary Lineker sent venom to the Video Assistant Referee.
What a start. Emphasize it, bold it, underline it.
Manchester City scored five goals in the first 18 minutes of play on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium, relegating Watford to also-ran status before the match was a quarter finished.
[ STREAM: Man City v. Watford ]
It took 54 seconds for De Bruyne to assist David Silva with an outstanding opener, but Gerard Deulofeu nearly answered when he danced around Nicolas Otamendi to force a conceded corner out of Ederson.
Silva, marked for Inter Miami in a mid-week report, was the finisher for the 55th time in his Premier League career and 72nd for his club.
Ben Foster then gave away a useless penalty when he slapped a through ball out of bounds before felling Riyad Mahrez for an easy penalty. Aguero stepped to the spot calm as you like and dispatched the No. 2 to the scoreboard.
That was hardly the end to Watford’s woes, as Mahrez dazzled with a dribble through the heart of the field to earn a free kick atop the 18. There was only one destination, given the series of events. 3-0.
Bernardo Silva then got in on the act, when Otamendi nodded a De Bruyne corner to the back post for a prone finish and 4-0.
Not to be outdone, Otamendi was back post for a finish of his own, giving City its fifth goal off an Aguero assist.
Three Premier League games take center stage at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, as potential upsets are the focus.
[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]
Manchester City aim to get back on track as they play Watford, while Norwich head to Burnley and Everton host Sheffield United.
[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ]
You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.
[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]
For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.
The schedule for the three games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.
10 a.m. ET: Man City v. Watford – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Burnley v. Norwich – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Everton v. Sheffield United – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]