Pirlo Vs Gattuso: Old Team Mates Face Off As Napoli Tackle Juventus

File Photo: Gattuso-Pirlo

 

In a highly-anticipated first clash between two former stars of Italy and AC Milan now chasing coaching glory, Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli test their ‘Scudetto’ ambitions at Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus on Sunday.

Both won the 2006 World Cup for Italy and spent a decade as AC Milan teammates, winning two Serie A titles and two Champions League crowns together.

It is a clash which Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte can’t wait to see.

“Juve v Napoli? I’ll enjoy watching it,” said Conte, who coached Pirlo as a player to the first three of Juventus’s current run of nine Serie A titles.

“Napoli are underestimated a lot,” continued Conte.

“They are an excellent team, they are among the favourites for the Scudetto.

“They have a staff and a very good coach who will make life difficult for everyone.”

Gattuso begins his second season on the Napoli bench having taken over from Carlo Ancelotti last December. The club finished seventh but qualified for the Europa League after winning the Italian Cup, their first trophy in six years.

Former Glasgow Rangers defensive midfielder Gattuso has been coaching since he hung up his boots in 2013, with the bulk of his footballing career spent at AC Milan.

He had stints at Sion, Palermo, Crete and Pisa before returning to Milan where he trained the youth team before coaching the first-team for 18 months.

The 42-year-old left Milan after the team missed the Champions League by just one point.

By contrast, Pirlo, 41, had no coaching experience before taking over from Maurizio Sarri, receiving his coaching diploma days before the season kicked off.

“Well he’s stuck now! That’s the job,” quipped Gattuso on hearing Pirlo’s appointment.

“He’s lucky to be starting at Juventus, but this profession is one where a great playing career is not enough. You have to study, to work hard, and you don’t get much sleep.”

– Coronavirus tests –

This season Gattuso has the ambitious task of winning a first Serie A title since the days of Napoli legend Diego Maradona in 1990.

Pirlo is counting on extending Juventus’s winning streak to 10 consecutive Serie A titles.

Napoli are top of the Italian league table after two games with a win over Parma, and a 6-0 hammering of Genoa last time out.

Pirlo’s Juventus is a team “under construction”. They were held 2-2 by Roma last weekend.

As Napoli sit equal on maximum points with Inter Milan, Atalanta, Hellas Verona and AC Milan, Juve have four points.

Napoli are awaiting the results of a second round of coronavirus tests as last week’s opponents Genoa had 16 positive tests this week, including 12 players.

Genoa’s game against Torino on Saturday has been postponed.

A first round of swabs at Napoli came back negative, with the results of the second series of tests expected on Friday.

Inter, who have scored nine goals in their first two matches, take on a Lazio hurting after their 4-1 defeat to Atalanta in the Stadio Olimpico.

“Inter have been considered an outsider for many years, now we have acquired credibility,” said Conte of last season’s runenrs-up.

High-scoring Atalanta next host Cagliari with Hellas Verona looking for a third consecutive win at Parma.

Roma head for Udinese looking for their first win, with the north-easterners reeling after losing to promoted La Spezia, who next challenge AC Milan.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Fiorentina v Sampdoria (1845)

Saturday

Sassuolo v Crotone (1300), Udinese v Roma (1845)

Postponed: Genoa v Torino

Sunday

Atalanta v Cagliari (1030), Benevento v Bologna, Lazio v Inter Milan, Parma v Verona (all 1300), AC Milan v Spezia (1600), Juventus v Napoli (1845)

-AFP

Andrea Pirlo Named As New Juventus Coach

In this file photo taken on August 20, 2014 Juventus A' Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo looks on during a friendly football match between Juventus A and Juventus B in Villar Perosa near Turin. Andrea Pirlo was named as new Juventus coach - club on August 8, 2020. Marco BERTORELLO / AFP
In this file photo taken on August 20, 2014 Juventus A’ Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo looks on during a friendly football match between Juventus A and Juventus B in Villar Perosa near Turin. Andrea Pirlo was named as new Juventus coach – club on August 8, 2020. Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Former Italy and Juventus star Andrea Pirlo was Saturday named as the Italian champions’ new coach, just hours after Maurizio Sarri’s sacking.

Sarri, 61, leaves Juventus after just one season, a day after the Turin giants crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16 to French club Lyon.

The 41-year-old Pirlo, who has no previous top-level coaching experience, has signed a two-year contract until June 2022.

He had recently been appointed coach of the Juventus U23 side, who play in the third division.

“Pirlo has had a legendary career as a player, winning everything from the Champions League to the World Cup in 2006,” Juventus said.

“In his four years at the centre of the Juventus midfield, Pirlo won as many league titles, a Coppa Italia and two Italian Super Cups.

“Today, begins a new chapter of his career in the world of football, as it was said almost a week ago: from Maestro to Mister.

“From today he will be THE coach for everyone at Juventus, as the club has decided to entrust him with the technical leadership of the first team, after having already selected him for Juventus Under 23.

“Today’s choice is based on the belief that Pirlo has what it takes to lead from his debut on the bench, an expert and talented squad to pursue new successes.”

Pirlo began his playing career at his hometown team Brescia in 1995 and went on to play for Inter, AC Milan and Juve from 2011 before moving in 2015 for two seasons with New York City FC in the MLS.

During his four seasons with Juventus he won Serie A four times and one Italian Cup.

Capped 116 times for Italy, Pirlo was a key figure in the team that won the 2006 World Cup.

He also won two Champions Leagues and two league titles with Milan during his 22-year playing career.

 

AFP

Juventus Appoint Italian Legend Pirlo As U-23 Coach

andrea-pirlo
Andrea Pirlo was part of the Italian team that won the 2006 World Cup. Photo: [email protected]_official

 

Former Italy star Andrea Pirlo has been appointed coach of the Juventus Under-23 team, the Serie A champions announced on Thursday.

“Andrea is the new coach of the Under 23 team. Welcome back coach Pirlo,” Juventus said in a statement.

Pirlo began his career at Brescia and went on to play for Inter, AC Milan and Juve before moving in 2015 for two seasons with New York City FC in the MLS.

During his four seasons with Juventus the 41-year-old won Serie A four times and one Italian Cup.

“It was a storyline that was dotted with many gems: decisive goals, assists painted on canvas, and a vision of play like no other,” the club said.

 

 

Capped 116 times for Italy, Pirlo was a key figure in the team that won the 2006 World Cup. He also won two Champions Leagues and two league titles with Milan during his 22-year playing career.

AFP

Italy Legend Andrea Pirlo Retires

Andrea Pirlo. Photo: Wikimedia

Italy legend Andrea Pirlo on Monday called time on an illustrious career during which he won the 2006 World Cup, two Champions League titles and six Serie A trophies. 

The 38-year-old former Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan midfielder made a late appearance for his club New York City against Columbus Crew, the day before announcing the end of his playing career.

“Not only my adventure in NY comes to an end, but my journey as a football player as well,” Pirlo wrote on his Twitter account.

“That is why I would like to take the opportunity to thank my family and my children for the support and love they always give me, every team that I had the honour to play for, every team-mate I have been pleased to play alongside, all the people that made my career so incredible, and last but not least, all the fans around the world that always showed me support.

“You will always be on my side and in my heart.”

Pirlo headed for the United States at the end of the 2014-2015 season after winning another Serie A title with Juventus — his sixth in total — including two with AC Milan.

He had already announced that this season would be his last as a player but his team lost his final game Sunday’s Major League Soccer playoff match against Colombus Crew.

Pirlo, who started his career in Brescia, also played at Inter Milan and Reggina before joining AC Milan, where he won two Serie A crowns and two Champions League trophies in 2003 and 2007.

Known as a free-kick specialist he was dubbed ‘the architect’ for his playmaking skills and uniquely cool and elegant playing style.

In 2011, while out of contract he joined Juventus, a deal which Italian international goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon dubbed the “the deal of the century”.

In Turin, Pirlo continued to impress despite his age winning four titles and an Italian Cup.

His final match in Europe was in Juventus’s Champions League final defeat in 2015 to Barcelona.

Capped 116 times for Italy, scoring 13 goals, during a 13-year career until 2015, Pirlo played his final two years with New York City FC.

AFP

Chelsea Announce Antonio Conte As Head Coach

Antonio ConteChelsea Football Club has announced the appointment of Antonio Conte as First Team Head Coach.

Conte, who is currently the manager of the Italy national side, has signed a three-year contract. He will begin work in London following his country’s participation in this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament.

The 46-year-old said: “I am very excited about the prospect of working at Chelsea Football Club. I am proud to be the coach of the national team of my country and only a role as attractive as manager of Chelsea could follow that.

“I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the club and the day-to-day challenge of competing in the Premier League.

“Chelsea and English football are watched wherever you go, the fans are passionate and my ambition is to have more success to follow the victories I enjoyed in Italy.

“I am happy we have made the announcement now so everything is clear and we can end the speculation. I will continue to focus on my job with the Italian national team and will reserve speaking about Chelsea again until after the Euros.”

Conte will be the fifth Italian to manage Chelsea, following on from Gianluca Vialli, Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo. In common with the first three of those names, he was formerly at Juventus, in his case as both a player and a manager.

Having played more than 400 games for the Italian giants, Conte’s three years in charge of the team between 2011 and 2014 yielded three straight Serie A titles – Juventus’s first league championships in eight years and their first three-in-a-row since the early 1930s. They had finished seventh the two seasons prior to Conte.

The Bianconeri also won two Italian Super Cups with him in charge. Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal were among his signings during a spell so productive he was named Serie A Coach of the Year in all three seasons there.

Chelsea Director Marina Granovskaia said, “We are very pleased to have recruited one of the most highly regarded managers in world football and we are equally pleased to do so before the end of the current season. This aids our future planning.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Guus Hiddink, who has done a great job since he joined us in December.”

Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck added, “Antonio Conte has a record of consistent success in his career as a manager and as a player. We look forward to welcoming him to Stamford Bridge and are confident he will find all he needs to maintain that high standard of achievement.”

Is Keshi Brave Enough To Drop Mikel? Obanya Asks

Mikel Obi“The Super Eagles (seem to) choose how to play depending on their opponents and the sight of Di Maria, Higuain and Messi made them raise their game on Wednesday, except for Mikel Obi.”

Sports Journalist, Nnamdi Obanya, said this on Thursday in a conversation with Channels Television’s Chamberlain Usoh on Sunrise Daily.

Providing a post-mortem of Nigeria’s last group game versus Argentina at the World Cup which ended in a 3-2 loss, Obanya said that despite the Eagles’ shaky start in the game they did well by responding quickly to Argentina’s goals.

With Nigeria having qualified for the second round despite the loss, his only fear, however, is if the Super Eagles would be able to repeat the same impressive performance against France because in the Argentina match “there were fortunate moments for us (although) there were unfortunate moments for us (as well).”

He opined that the two goals scored by Ahmed Musa were down to his personal instinct and not necessarily products of the team’ s strategy.

He explained that the team’s coach, Stephen Keshi, usually places Musa on the right but “because of the counter attack and the way it happened, Musa instinctively ran into the left channels which is his (desired) space and credit must go to Emenike and Babatunde for the assists on those goals.”

Speaking further, he said: “Mikel once again did not show up to the party, it’s not enough to play 2 inch passes to the left or to the right or to the player nearest to you.”

Analysing the goals scored by the Argentinians, Obanya said that the Eagles must work on their technical disciple as regards defending set pieces because the lapses could be costly as the second round match against France beckons. However, Obanya cautiously expressed belief that Nigeria could beat the French, “not because Nigeria is so good but because France have their own personal self-destruct buttons.”

Obanya referred to game between France and Ecuador and the inability of the French team to take their chances and take advantage of the Ecuadorians being one man down for a massive period in the game.

He added that Nigeria must not be too happy, however, as the French Coach has said that his team would fight in their next game, obviously upset at the outcome of the last group game in which they played a frustrating scoreless draw.

Making suggestions on how to stop France, Obanya posited that the full backs would have to help in attack but must master the art of tracking back to defend when they lose the ball, as in the Argentina game, both Ambrose Efe and Juwon Oshaniwa got caught out a number of times; again he put the blame on Mikel Obi.

“The reason you have holding midfielders is that when your wing backs go forward, your holding midfielder should drop in-between your two centre-backs, allow them to spread and give your fullbacks time to come back. Now you have a standing 3-man defence at least to cope with whatever is coming.

“If Mikel is going to be so static and sit just in front of the defence, and Onazi has to be the water carrier in the midfield, it means that when there’s an attack, Mikel needs to come back and sit but he’s not marking, he’s not going forward.”

Chamberlain drew attention to the attacking forays of Mikel in the recent games but Obanya believes that “he gets lost just before the final third.”

“As a number 10 or a playmaker, your job is to get in that role and play triangles between the wide man and the striker, so that whoever is the third person in the three behind the striker can act as a second runner into the box or can also hover around.

“(And) If you’re going to sit so deep as a Pirlo, you had better have perfect passes and you have to help out the defence. If you’re not going to sit between the defence when Nigeria is being attacked then it does not pay Nigeria to have you sit in so deep; against France, we can’t afford that.

“I’ve been asking, is Keshi brave enough to drop Mikel?” Obanya said, naming Michael Babatunde as the possible option to come into the number 10 role and let Onazi sit.

Babatunde’s injury in the game against Argentina, however, seemed to have put an end to the role of the midfielder in the 2014 World Cup after being hit by a shot from his teammate, Ogenyi Onazi; an incident Obanya blamed on the non-tactical but more physical nature of the Eagles’ training.

“You’re going to need as much mobility against France; I’m not sure Mikel is that mobile”, Obanya said.

He also suggested the return of Victor Moses to the team as he could be deployed as an attacking midfielder. He noted, “Some players need to be given that liberty to roam.”