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VIDEO: Gigi Buffon’s tearful goodbye after 17 years at Juve

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TURIN, Italy (AP) It was a day of celebration but also of tears as Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon played his last match for the Bianconeri after 17 years at the club.

Juventus beat already relegated Hellas Verona 2-1 in the final round of the season on Saturday but the result mattered little as the club bid an emotional farewell to Buffon, while it also received a record-extending seventh successive Serie A trophy.

Buffon, widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers ever, announced Thursday that he was leaving Juventus although the 40-year-old World Cup winner has put off retirement to consider offers to play overseas.

Buffon ran out for the warmup first as defender Andrea Barzagli held back his teammates for a few seconds to let the ‘keeper enjoy the reception on his own.

The former Italy captain also spent several minutes under one of the stands behind the goal and had tears in his eyes as he hugged many fans.

A huge banner of Buffon was unveiled before kickoff, while there were continuous chants and songs about him during the match.

Buffon, who could be seen at times wiping away tears, had hardly a save to make.

His opposite number, Nicolas, was far busier and saved a late penalty from Stephan Lichtsteiner, who was also playing his farewell match for the club.

Paulo Dybala almost gave Juventus the lead shortly before the break but his chipped effort came off the crossbar.

Juventus broke the deadlock four minutes after the interval when a corner was played short and Douglas Costa dribbled into the area. His effort was saved by Nicolas but Daniele Rugani tapped in the rebound.

Miralem Pjanic doubled Juve’s lead three minutes later with a trademark free kick.

Buffon was substituted in the 63rd to an emotional standing ovation. He was hugged by all his teammates and staff as he struggled to hold back the tears.

Alessio Cerci scored for Verona in the 76th to end Juve’s bid to set a new Serie A record of 23 clean sheets in a season.

Buffon moved to Juventus in 2001 and has made 656 appearances for the club.

He won his ninth Serie A title with Juventus this season, leading the Bianconeri to a fourth successive league and cup double.

Two other league titles were stripped from the club due to the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. Also as punishment, Juventus was relegated to Serie B but Buffon stayed and helped it win the second division and bounce straight back up.

Among Buffon’s records for club and country is the longest time in Serie A without conceding a goal when he was unbeaten for 974 consecutive minutes in the 2015-16 season.

The 2 Robbies: Talking Liverpool, Manchester, Spurs at Man Utd

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle wrap up a great weekend of Premier League action. Liverpool took all three points against Crystal Palace. The guys chat about the mood in the United dressing room (12:40) and the opposite feelings across Manchester as Man City thrashed Huddersfield (25:30). We wrap up looking ahead to the big one: Manchester United vs Tottenham next week (33:30).

[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]

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Report: Woodward to appoint director of football at Manchester United

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Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward is readying a change to the hierarchy at Old Trafford as he attempts to steady the ship, and it’s not the removal of controversial manager Jose Mourinho.

The Manchester Evening News is reporting that Woodward will appoint a director of football at the club to help ease the burden after growing frustration from Mourinho and supporters following a summer with few transfer buys.

[ MORE: Klopp on beating Palace ]

Mourinho lamented the lack of additions in the summer after he gave a specific list of center back targets to Woodward and got exactly zero of them.

Now after beating Leicester City and losing at Brighton, United could be in a bad position early if they cannot manage a positive performance against visiting Tottenham on Aug. 27.

And MEN reports that Woodward is eager to get himself out of “the firing line.”

United have not held back when it comes to issuing press releases boasting about their many commercial partners, but there has been a quiet revamp of the club’s academy, scouting network and training ground facilities behind the scenes.

One of the final steps is bringing in a director of football – something many United fans have been crying out for following the club’s patchy transfer record with Woodward at the helm.

Woodward is not going to appoint anyone who would undermine his decisions, and the hire could speak volumes about Mourinho’s future, short or long.

Second week second-guessing Premier League table predictions

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The transfer window had just closed when ProSoccerTalk’s staff made their predictions for the 2018-19 season.

For the most part, the first two weeks of the Premier League season have cemented this writer’s faith in his projections.

[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]

In four cases, however, being allowed some Monday mulligans would have me moving teams more than one spot in my predicted table.

Moving up

Spurs (Predicted 6th; New spot 3rd) –> The worries I have about Dele Alli returning to world-beating status have been quelled by Lucas Moura‘s newfound comfort in creating Premier League chances. Tottenham’s defenders the same. Next Monday’s trip to Manchester United will say a lot about both clubs. And hanging onto Toby Alderweireld instead of allowing him to steady Manchester United’s creaky back line was smart.

Watford (Predicted 18th; New spot 12th) — Don’t get us wrong, the Hornets have not done much yet. Beating a Europa League weary and shallow Burnley isn’t a great feat, though their home defeat of Brighton is a bit more impressive after the Gulls knocked off Man Utd. That said, Javi Gracia‘s men have a clear plan to get service to Troy Deeney and Andre Gray, and terrific playmakers in Roberto Pereyra and Abdoulaye Doucoure. They are better than relegation fodder, and should finish 7-10 points clear of the drop.

Moving down

Manchester United (Predicted 2nd; New spot 5th) –> United probably would’ve drawn Brighton on Sunday had they a few extra minutes on the clock, but there’s a chance Leicester would’ve done the same to them on Opening Day if afforded the same opportunity. Is Eric Bailly the proactive wall we saw versus the Foxes or, well, the reactive problem he was at Brighton?

I believed the start of the season and return to fitness for so many World Cup players would dispel the odious scent from Jose Mourinho’s offseason obnoxiousness. It hasn’t, and it’s going to cost the team the Top Four. That said, I’ll hedge a little and say United’s players may make a decent Champions League run if given a good group stage draw.

Wolves (Predicted 13th; New spot 17th) –> I thought Wolves had enough firepower to challenge for a top half spot, but Nuno Espirito Santo’s side looks incapable of keeping dangerous chances away from goalkeeper Rui Patricio, who can only do so much.

Klopp: Let’s not worry about sending statements to Man City

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Jurgen Klopp thought both his Liverpool and hosts Crystal Palace were feeling exhausted in the second half of the Reds’ 2-0 win at Selhurst Park, so he loudly threatened to murder his players.

Okay, okay, that’s not exactly true, but you be the judge: He got a goal out of it.

[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]

“In these moments the fuel is really low and maybe the players need a bit of help from an angry manager, ‘Run or I will kill you,’ and they did that with a fantastic counter attack,” Klopp said.

Cool. That said, Klopp pointed tot his team’s commitment to fitness as a reason for their win.

“Second half both teams, you could see Crystal Palace maybe struggle a little bit more than we did but it was for us very intense as well,” he said. “We had these big chances, didn’t use them. They had their moments when Alisson had to make a few saves. The save on the free kick was outstanding. I know we have to play much better but for tonight I’m absolutely fine with that.”

Klopp bristled when asked about meeting Man City’s 6-1 defeat of Huddersfield Town with a fairly complete performance against Palace.

 “I am not interested in sending statement to Manchester City or anyone else. We want to win football games and that’s what we did tonight.”