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Juve’s Pirlo gamble makes new Serie A season the most open for years

first_imgThe decision by Juventus to hand the reins of coaching its team to untried Andrea Pirlo promises to make this season’s Serie A title race one of the most open in years.Already, a queue of clubs are waiting to pounce should the champions’ remarkable gamble backfire. The Turin side will be bidding for a 10th successive Serie A title this season, which kicks off on Saturday.But they will do so under the leadership of a man who, for all his undoubted ability as a player, has never coached at senior level before.Pirlo, who makes his debut at home to Sampdoria on Sunday, only received his official badge on Monday after presenting his thesis at the Italian federation’s coaching school in Florence.It now remains to be seen how he will adapt to the new role.“I’m the Juventus coach and it’s natural that anyone who comes here must win,” said Pirlo after a pre-season friendly against Novara. “I know I have to win, it was like that as a player and it will be like that as a coach.”There are further question marks over Juventus, including the way in which they staggered over the finish line last season, winning only two of their last eight matches.There was also the issue of their dependence on Cristiano Ronaldo.While his record cannot be questioned, Ronaldo’s presence demands that the team is built around him, leaving his coach short on tactical options as Pirlo’s predecessor Maurizio Sarri found.With Juventus in transition, Serie A has become arguably the most difficult of the major European leagues to predict  — not least because the transfer window does not close until October 5. This is two weeks after the opening fixtures.Inter Milan, who finished one point behind Juve in second place last season, appear to be the most dangerous and obvious challengers to Juve’s dominance.But that is if they can overcome the inconsistency which exasperated coach Antonio Conte last season.Their neighbours AC Milan are equally intriguing.RelatedPosts Pirlo not out to copy anyone after Juventus’ comfortable opening win Live stream Premier League, La Liga, Serie A on Showmax Pro this weekend Pirlo bags UEFA coaching badge After years of mid-table mediocrity, the seven-times European champions came to life in the second half of last season, partly inspired by the presence of 38-year-old forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.Stefano Pioli, their experienced and amiable coach, seemed to have found the right blend of youth and experience — something Milan have been chasing for years.That seemed to be why they were unbeaten for their last 13 matches of the season.Yet, most observers agree that none of those three played the best football last season.That honour belonged to Atalanta who blasted 98 goals on their way to finishing third.Although, clubs of Atalanta’s size often struggle to keep their team together after a successful season, the Bergamo-based team appear to have escaped that fate.Instead, they have consolidated their position after their UEFA Champions League debut last season.Similarly, Lazio were outstanding for part of last season and led the table shortly before Serie A stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March.Their small squad struggled with the heavy fixture list after the break.But they still finished fourth as forward Ciro Immobile equalled the Serie A scoring record for a single season with 36 goals.With a few reinforcements, they could launch another challenge this season.Lazio’s neighbours AS Roma, after exchanging one American owner for another following the take-over by the Texas-based Friedkin group, also finished strongly last season under Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca.Meanwhile, Napoli, who have been Juve’s main challengers for the past decade, overcame a mid-season crisis and finished with a trophy after winning the Coppa Italia.With the feisty Gennaro Gattuso at the helm, they can certainly not be written off.(Reuters/NAN)Tags: Andrea PirloJuventusSerie Alast_img read more

Syracuse announces construction of new indoor practice facility

first_imgConstruction of a new $17-million indoor practice center will begin later this year, Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross announced Tuesday.The football team will be the primary tenants of the 87,000 square foot facility, but all athletic programs will utilize the center.“This practice center will give our football program, and our other programs, the opportunity to prepare, practice and play amongst the best in the nation, while providing the best possible environment for the development of all of our special student-athletes,” Gross said in a SU Athletics press release. “Like the Carmelo Anthony Center has helped our men’s and women’s basketball programs compete at the highest level, this critical new center will continue our football program’s momentum, and is absolutely essential in our pursuit of top-level student-athletes and conference championships.”The facility will be built at the site currently occupied by the Joseph Vielbig Outdoor Track Stadium. The location of the new practice facility also means a new track facility will be built on South Campus, merging with the current site used for field events.The center’s construction represents the fourth phase of improvements being made to the Orange’s football facilities. Syracuse previously renovated the football wing at Manley Field House, built a new strength and conditioning facility and practice fields, and renovated the sports medicine center.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“This commitment will give our student-athletes a first-rate complex to utilize as we move to the ACC and compete for championships,” football coach Scott Shafer said in the press release. “With our outstanding staff, this building puts us on par or ahead of our competitors in the new league, and will attract and help us develop the kind of outstanding citizens and student-athletes required to win at this level.” Comments Published on February 26, 2013 at 4:47 pm Contact David: dbwilson@syr.edu | @DBWilson2 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Miller: Dodgers’ Trayce Thompson, Rockies’ Nolan Arenado share brotherly bond that dates to youth baseball

first_img“He’s at the top of the top competitive-wise,” Thompson says. “He hates to lose. I’m madder when I beat him at something than when I lose because I know it’s going to affect the rest of the day between us. But it’s just all in fun.”Says Arenado: “It’s friends stuff, you know? It starts with some trash talk and then there’s some hitting and then we’re wrestling. Just messing around.”Wait, wrestling? And hitting?!“It’s more joking, just to let out some tension,” Thompson says. “But it happens, yeah. I’m telling you, we’re just like brothers.”That’s how close these two Orange County kids have grown up to be – the most famous brother on the Dodgers talks about his counterpart on the Rockies as if they’re the ones who are related. They play on opposing teams, teams competing to win the same division and, this week, teams going pitch-for-pitch in a frantic, flailing attempt to keep up with the Giants.So, sure, there’s a genuine intensity separating Trayce Thompson and Nolan Arenado, the sort of intensity typically found only between the worst of enemies.Or the best of friends.Intensity, you see, also can pull two people together. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img One of Trayce’s real brothers, of course, is Klay Thompson, who’s in the middle of trying to win a second consecutive NBA title with the Golden State Warriors.Yet, here at Dodger Stadium, the brotherly love between Thompson and Arenado is as obvious as it must have been the first time they had a sleepover.It all began half their young lives ago, on a travel team called the All-Star Dugout Bulldogs. They also played together on various scout teams and in multiple showcase events.After high school – Arenado attended El Toro and Thompson went to Santa Margarita – they both were taken in the second round of the 2009 draft, their budding bond exemplified by the fact they were selected so close together, 59th and 61st, respectively.From there, the two began planning their offseason workouts together and hanging out more and more, playing basketball or video games or pretty much anything else where, in the end, a winner could be identified, just in time to rub the loser’s nose in it.Today, they still hit and throw together in the winter at Baseball Performance Academy in San Juan Capistrano. They also exchange text messages daily – Thompson: “I do that with just my parents and Nolan.” – and check in after almost every game each one of them plays.Pretty cool, huh, two long-time pals realizing their big-league dreams together, Arenado now recognized as one of the game’s best players and Thompson further establishing himself with the Dodgers?“As we got into high school this became something we talked about,” Arenado says. “And it was always, ‘When we get to the major leagues …’ It was a belief, and we worked hard to make it happen.”Cool? Well, it gets better. When these two teams met in Denver in April, the moms – Julie Thompson and Millie Arenado – flew together from Orange County to be there in person, where they sat together at Coors Field, just like during the All-Star Dugout Bulldog days.Their two boys hadn’t played against one another in a real game since Class A ball.“It’s a blessing, no doubt,” Arenado says. “We’re very thankful for stuff like that. It was great to have our moms there. It reminded us of when we were little kids, the families hanging out together.”Arenado is as much a part of the Rockies as the color purple. Entering Tuesday, he led the National League in home runs and RBIs, did this 2015 All-Star third baseman who last season also won his third Gold Glove.Two months ago, on the occasion of his 25th birthday, Arenado was the subject of a Denver Post story suggesting he could eventually supplant Todd Helton as the franchise’s all-time best player.“It’s just like seeing all the success my brother has had,” Thompson says. “It’s literally the same thing.”Thompson’s spot on the Dodgers’ opening day roster might not have been a reality had Andre Ethier reminded healthy. This week, in part because of Thompson’s play, the Dodgers cut loose Carl Crawford, despite still owing Crawford nearly $35 million.Thompson is first or second on the team in homers, average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, his swing looking as certain as Arenado assured Thompson it was during their winter batting practice sessions.“He never stopped working,” Arenado says. “I remember in the offseason telling him, ‘Your swing’s different. You look more confident. I think good things are going to happen.’ I couldn’t be happier for him.”Couldn’t be happier for him, that is, until these two buddies share the tee box somewhere in Orange County this fall, at which point both could be wound up snugger than a Titleist.Even more than baseball, the competitive spirit between Arenado and Thompson might burn hottest on the golf course, the two typically playing within a couple strokes of each other.This past offseason, however, Thompson wasn’t able to play much after he was traded to the Dodgers and his training schedule changed.“In years past, it was really close,” Arenado says. “This last year, I was better than him because he stopped playing. He gave up, and you can tell him I said that. He quit on me.”Says Thompson: “I’ll give him the crown this year. But I will say this, the last time we played, in spring training, I beat him.”And isn’t that just like best friends, talking trash and trading blows right up until the final word?last_img read more