A Look At Juventus’ Coaching Candidates

With the future of Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri hanging in the balance after their recent European failure, a number of names have been linked with the bianconero hot seat. As Champions League glory remains the target, it remains to be seen just who president Andrea Agnelli will elect to lead the charge for the upcoming season. Here are the possibilities for the Juventus job.


1) Mauricio Pochettino 

The Tottenham Hotspur manager has done an exceptional job with limited resources throughout his time in London, and has led the English side to their first Champions League final in their history. Win or lose against Liverpool come June 1st, Pochettino has alluded to the fact that his five-year tenure may be coming to an end. Italian media outlets have ran with his comments, and have recently linked him with the Juventus post.

The Argentine tactician has a clear philosophy at all clubs he’s been with, something Juventus have lacked under Allegri this season. However, one stumbling block remains his salary. According to Corriere dello Sport, Pochettino is demanding 20 million euros per season, making it rather difficult for the Italian champions to compete with suitors.

In any case, Pochettino should be Agnelli’s primary target, and would undoubtedly make the most of Juventus’ deep roster. With European glory as their priority, the Argentine may just prove to be exactly what Juventus need.


2) Antonio Conte

Much like Pochettino, former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has been heavily linked with a return to Juventus in recent times. That being said, Sky’s Gianluca Di Marzio recently reported that the former Juventus tactician is extremely close to penning a deal with fierce rivals Inter. Regardless of these reports, Conte, a manager who set the first building blocks for this Juventus side eight years ago, remains a concrete possibility for the job.

A main concern for Agnelli, however, other than the fallout from his abrupt departure, is Conte’s ability to juggle European football along with domestic demands. In the past, the Italian tactician rarely rotated his eleven, and often struggled to replicate his side’s domestic form in Europe, crashing out of the Champions League group stages in disappointing fashion. Despite this, Conte recently came out in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, and claimed his stints with Chelsea and Italy have made him a better manager in this respect.

Moreover, it’s important to consider that Juventus’ side today are much stronger than Conte’s Juve, which is likely playing a decisive factor in the tactician’s decision to stall talks with Inter for the time being. While a reunion with Marotta at Inter is likely for Conte, don’t be surprised to see the veteran tactician replacing the man who succeeded him come summertime.

Lazio v Salzburg - UEFA Europa League - Quarter Final - First Leg - Stadio Olimpico

3) Allegri v the field

Other than Pochettino and Conte, a number of other managers have been linked with the Juventus job, albeit less seriously. According to recent reports, Agnelli is also weighing up the option of hiring France boss Didier Deschamps. Much like Allegri, the French tactician is pragmatic with his approach, and would represent maintaining the status quo for Juventus.

Otherwise, Simone Inzaghi, Gian Piero Gasperini and Sinisa Mihajlovic have also been linked. The trio are all familiar with Italian football, and all have different merits. Firstly, Gasperini has done fantastic with Atalanta, getting them to their first Coppa Italia final in decades, and is two wins away from Champions League qualification. However, doubts remain over his ability to translate this to a big club, as seen through his past failure with Inter. In addition, there’s no reason why Gasperini should leave Atalanta after leading them to the first Champions League qualification in recent times. After all, Gasperini and gli Orobici are a match-made in heaven.

Inzaghi and Mihajlovic are interesting appointments in their own way, but frankly, are not Juventus calibre, especially if Champions League is the objective. If the bianconeri’s primary options aren’t feasible, Allegri may prove to be the best of the rest.

For the time being, no one really knows which way Agnelli is leaning, and could very well keep Allegri at the helm for the upcoming season. However, if recent reports are anything to go by, the Juventus president will likely be replacing Allegri by season’s end.

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What is next for Arsene Wenger and why has no club come in for him?

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This summer has been a huge one for Arsene Wenger, that culminated in one of the biggest changes of his career- leaving his beloved Arsenal after 22 years. The French coaching legend has been busy since departing, visiting his good friend George Weah in Africa and attending many different football matches. However questions remain as to what Wenger will do next.

Wenger has been linked to various jobs, most have been outside of the major clubs though and the feeling is that he won’t end up with one of the European heavyweights. This is probably more of a reflection on his last 10 years with Arsenal, where he was only able to achieve 3 FA Cup wins and no league titles.

In the summer it seemed that he was favoured to manage in China. Wenger of course has already coached in Asia when he managed in the Japanese J League. But many coaches have chosen China for a lucrative final pay deal that has seen the likes of Fabio Capello and Sven Goran Eriksson sign up to go out there.

Or there is the option to coach an MLS team in America. Whilst the salary would be much lower than what Wenger is expected of the football would be more competitive and could serve him up with just the right challenge to keep him motivated.

One idea that does fit is to become the national coach of his country. No one can deny how brilliant France have been over the last 2 years, winning this summers World Cup and finishing as runners up at Euro 2016. The problem he has there is that France have the very capable Didier Deschamps in charge who has obviously done a fantastic job with the side. The only way that could change would be if France have a poor Euro 2020, and even if that happens the French job is still 2 years away, something that Wenger surely couldn’t wait that long to acquire.

There has for many years been a link to both PSG and Barcelona. PSG makes sense in the fact they are of course French and have dominated Ligue 1 football this decade. The team and Wenger were the perfect fit at the beginning of this decade, but at the end,well it isn’t not so sure. Again PSG like France look in a very good position and it seems that current coach Thomas Tuchel is going nowhere fast.

As far as Barcelona are concerned, surely this would be the dream final job for Wenger- a team who empathise with Wenger’s football philosophy to attack. Current coach Ernesto Valverde is under some pressure even though the club are the champions in Spain. The problem is that they have not performed well enough in the Champions League in recent seasons.

Another question must be posed which is, clubs are hardly lining up for Wenger’s signature and it could well be that at 68 the very big European heavyweights will feel that Wenger has had his time.

The link again goes back this week to PSG where Wenger could become a technical advisor with the club, or as some people would put it, the man upstairs. Let’s hope that Wenger does not take this route to end his glorious footballing career on because it would rather feel that the great man is going out with a whimper rather than a bang of which he is surely most deserving.

Best Tactical Performance of the Week – France


On 30th June, France went up against Argentina in what was arguably the biggest of the last-16 round matches at this summer’s World Cup. It was the only fixture featuring two former world champions, and also two of the favourites to lift this year’s trophy as well. Fears of a tight-knit, cagey affair were soon displaced when Antoine Griezmann fired the French in front after just 13 minutes from the penalty spot. What ensued was one of the finest matches so far at the tournament, a real ding-dong battle from the first whistle to the last, from one end of the pitch to the other. It was truly a spectacle, and France would ultimately emerge triumphant on the right end of a 4-3 thriller. Lionel Messi was going home much earlier than you would think he’d imagined and France celebrated their progress.

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France 3-1 Italy: Five things we learnt about France’s World Cup tactics

France beat Italy 3-1 in a friendly match at the Allianz Riviera in Nice on Friday night, thanks to goals from Samuel Umtiti, Antoine Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembele. The score line perhaps flattered Didier Deschamps’ side, who looked menacing on the counter-attack but lacked control in their own third; Italy could easily have added to Leonardo Bonucci’s first-half strike.

But Deschamps will be pleased with a win that taught us quite a lot about the suitability of a 4-3-3 formation, the prominent role his full-backs can play, and how to get the best out of his young forwards.

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World Cup 2018: Griezmann and Giroud provide goal threat for France


It is now time to take a look at another favourite for this summer’s World Cup in Russia. Following on from last week’s assessment of European champions Portugal’s chances, this week we are looking at the very team Portugal beat in the final of Euro 2016. That team, of course, is former world champions France, who are seeking their first World Cup triumph since winning it in their own back yard in 1998 – 20 years ago this year. If that isn’t a fact that makes you feel old, then I really don’t know what will. If France don’t win either this tournament or the Qatar 2022 competition, they could well be planning their own version of Three Lions discussing 30 years of hurt.

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Questions of Deschamps as France let Euro 2016 slip away


All the signs pointed to a French party. They started the Euro 2016 Final as clear favourites against a Portugal team which had clawed their way to the Stade de France showdown. France, meanwhile, were riding high following victory over Germany.

They had the chance to equal Michel Platini’s team of 1984 which won the European Championships on home soil. And the class of 1998. Captain then, Didier Deschamps could be a national hero once more.

But this was a tournament for ending hoodoos. Italy ended their barren spell against Spain. Germany then finally beat the Azzurri in a major tournament. Portugal came into the Final without a win in their last 10 against France. That included the Semi-finals of Euro ‘84 and 2000, plus the World Cup six years later. And the French did themselves no favours on a moth-infested Sunday in Paris.

Even with Portugal losing talisman Cristiano Ronaldo and France holding the ascendency, the game remained scoreless. Deschamps said afterwards the French “lost together”, although some of his decisions were curious, to say the least.

He has battled with midfield balance throughout the tournament. It started when it became clear Antoine Griezmann would be better suited to playing centrally. A man in form, Deschamps went with the Atletico Madrid player. For the Quarter-final with Iceland he was fielded in a 4-2-3-1 behind Olivier Giroud. But in the reshuffle, Deschamps had Paul Pogba become the holding midfielder.

On Sunday the Juventus man did not have a licence to get forward. It was Moussa Sissoko and Blaise Matuidi doing that. While offering energy, they lack the craft of Pogba. France needed that to unlock a resolute Portuguese defence.

They did create chances – Griezmann had a header in each half and Andre-Pierre Gignac hit the post in second half injury time, but the longer it went on the more France grew anxious. And Portugal grew in confidence. Deschamps substitutions, aside from throwing on Anthony Martial after the Portuguese goal, did little to change the course of the match.

There appeared no French fluidity through the centre, or cohesiveness in their attacking play. Would releasing Pogba have changed anything? It would have helped. Don’t forget, he was heavily involved in the second goal against Germany, minutes after N’Golo Kante came on to protect the base of midfield.

Portugal got the only goal in extra-time, leaving France to wonder how they let another home tournament triumph slip through their grasp. When tasked with breaking down a firm defence neither the players or coach had an answer.

Deschamps delighted with France in Euro 2016 final

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France booked their place in the Euro 2016 final after beating Germany in Thursday’s semi-final clash at the Stade Velodrome, and manager Didier Deschamps was delighted with his players for finally winning against Germany in a knockout clash.

“There is quality in this German team. And when they don’t have the ball it gets even more complicated. We had the best team in the world opposite us. We had to suffer but never gave up and that’s great for me. This is a great story – the players wrote history by knocking out Germany,” he said.

France have limited time before Sunday’s final against Portugal at the Stade de France, losing one day’s preparation compared to their opposition, but Deschamps has a strong squad more than capable. The likes of N’Kolo Kante can come into the midfield if there’s fatigue from others, while Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial are further attacking options.

“We have three days before the final, it’s very short so we have to savour this victory. It’s an important step forward but the most important step is Sunday. We’re going to do everything in our power to go in to Sunday’s game in the best possible condition,” added the France manager. France go into the final as favourites given their squad and home advantage, especially after dispatching of the World champions.

It had been 58 years since France beat Germany in a knockout game, but France defender Patrice Evra believes a friendly victory in November last year helped Les Blues to believe. “As soon as we beat them in a friendly, it gave us a lift. Of course they were strong, of course they were the favourites and they had good ball possession. But we told each other we would never give up. And that’s why I’m proud of my teammates,” he said.

No side had scored past Germany in open play until the semi-final, and given their trio of attackers have scored and created 18 goals between them in the tournament, Portugal will be fearful. They haven’t been too full of goals themselves so their plan will be to try and stifle France by not leaving many gaps to be exploited. France have pace and power and the ruthless finishing in the final third hurt any team, so Portugal could find themselves blown away if not careful.

France’s front three Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet have all scored three of more goals in the tournament. Portugal’s duo Luis Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo the same. As a result, their final on the weekend should be a good contest.

Brilliant Griezmann inspires France to Euro 2016 final


France are in the Euro 2016 final and will face Portugal on Sunday after defeating Germany 2-0 thanks to two Antoine Griezmann goals.

The opener at the death of the first half was a penalty- but it was a controversial one as Patrice Evra’s header in the German area was adjudged to touch Bastian Schweinsteiger’s hand, it did but was it a harsh decision? Man of the moment Griezmann was up against probably the best goal keeper in the world in Manuel Neuer, Griezmann’s shot sent the German the other way and France erupted.

Germany went in at half time a goal down but just how this came to be will take a lot of soul searching from within the team. Because they quite simply dominated the first half. Germany were irresistible, near magnificent, closed down their opponents and were making France look very ordinary. There seemed like there would be only one winner. But the penalty and at the time it came seemed to wind the Germans some.

The second half started much as the first half had been- with Germany seeking possession, but it was becoming all to evident what their problem was: They had in this tournament no killer instinct and no striker. In previous competitions going back to when they last won the Euro’s in 1996 they could count on Oliver Bierhoff, Miroslav Klose dominated the front line in the 2000′s and Thomas Muller was mostly quite frankly superb. They still had Muller and at Euro 2016 he was mostly quite frankly abysmal. Strange from coach Joachim Low that he refused to part ways with a striker that simply wasn’t having a good tournament, the ball was his enemy and his gift of the gab had clearly left him. Germany had no answer- and then they did the unthinkable and played like an amateur Sunday team in defence to gift the French and Griezmann the second goal which killed the game off.

As for France they grew more confident and bold as the game went on- finding more space in midfield and controlling it too. Paul Pogba shone, Patrice Evra rolled back the year’s, Hugo Lloris IS the goal keeper of this tournament and made some vital saves as Germany threw everything at the French in the final frantic moments and Samuel Umtiti the 22 year old Lyon player was an absolute monster.

France will face the other Ronaldo at the Stade de France in a major final just like they did when they hosted the 1998 World Cup. That night they played against a Brazilian who should have been in a hospital bed not on a football pitch. On Sunday they will face a player on top of his game. For tonight the Stade Velodrome in Marseille and indeed the whole country of France is awash in the tri colours, Viva France!



Tensions mount for France ahead of Euro 2016 match against Republic of Ireland


What if on early Sunday evening France are dumped out of their host tournament Euro 2016? Talk about pulling the plug out of the largest party France has known since the 1998 World Cup. The Republic of Ireland have that chance to do just that and to say tensions are mounting in the French camp would be an understatement.

Here in France fans are weary of the Irish who looked good against Italy with their group game victory that saw them reach the knock out rounds and have the opportunity to play the host nation. Ireland have the wind in their tails so to speak and the confidence is running wildly throughout the team. For some French fans despite the team progressing to the round of 16 easier than thought Les Bleus simply haven’t been firing on all cylinders. They have much like England relied on late goals to gloss over what has been anything but memorable performances and the fans will know that France will have to be at their best to despatch Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s team.

Of course there is also the question of history between these two and it is the Irish who will feel they were the victims last time out. Back in World Cup qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, both France and Ireland were paired in the play off knock out rounds to reach the finals in South Africa. The first leg in Ireland ended with a victory for the French by 1-0 but it was the 2nd leg in Paris that caused all the controversy. That match ended 1-1 after a spirited fight from the Irish but they went out 2-1 on aggregate. France’s goal was scored by William Gallas, a perfectly legit strike but he was assisted by the hand of Thierry Henry in the build up. Henry clearly did handball the ball and admitted so afterwards and it was inevitably a bitter pill for the Irish to swallow. Despite protests that the match should be replayed, FIFA denied the Irish the chance and they were out of the World Cup before it had even started.

The Irish team are bound to say that the match this Sunday is not about revenge, but it’s hard to escape the facts of what happened and the match between the two some 7 years ago will be on both sets of players minds.

There is no doubt that the city of Lyon will be on tender hooks when France meet up against Ireland both sides looking to reach the quarter final phase and play either England or Iceland in what would be another mouthwatering encounter.


France manager Didier Deschamps upbeat about topping Group A in Euro 2016

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France manager Didier Deschamps had mixed emotions after his side’s goalless stalemate against Switzerland on Sunday night. Les Blues booked their place in the last-16 of the European Championships as Group A winners, and their head coach was delighted to have already achieved one of their goals in the tournament.

“We were there to secure first place and we did it, so it’s mission accomplished. Had we been a bit more clinical or had more luck, we could have won. I’m not blind, I do realise that we can do better. Now a new competition is going to start for us next Sunday. We have a long week ahead of us and that will give us time to prepare,” he said.

France hit the woodwork three times against Switzerland and created numerous opportunities throughout the encounter at the Grand Stade Lille Métropole, but they just couldn’t breach the Swiss backline. The draw meant both sides went through to the last-16 of Euro 2016, and now have many days to rest before their clash against the third-placed team of Group C, D or E commences.

Les Blues are favourites to go all the way in the Euros, and enjoyed an unbeaten campaign to make it to the next round, conceding only one goal in the process. France picked up two wins against Romania and Albania before their stalemate against Switzerland, and have shown moments of exciting attacking play that could tear defences apart when they get into gear.

Reservations remain about their ageing defence, but they have been solid when it’s mattered in the group stages. France are regarded as favourites to win the Euros with home advantage, but Germany and Spain are two sides expected to go the distance. Nevertheless, Deschamps will be pleased with his side getting the job done to progress as group winners, and now they will see who their next opponents will be.

While playing out a dour draw against Switzerland, France gave appearances to a number of their fringe players – Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko, Kingsley Coman and André-Pierre Gignac – most of whom did a decent job at the Grand Stade Lille Métropole. Deschamps isn’t likely to deviate from his starting eleven in France’s last game, however, but giving minutes to as many players as possible means they have good options from the bench.

With a 23-man squad, it’s hard to give everyone game time, but Deschamps has looked to share out the minutes as much as possible.