x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Juventus coach Antonio Conte puts it all on the line

Juventus seem to be faring well with the absence of their coach at the pitch-side, writes Ian Hawkey.

Antonio Conte, centre, watches his Juventus players during a pre-season training session.
Antonio Conte, centre, watches his Juventus players during a pre-season training session.
Antonio Conte, the head coach of Juventus, will on Friday argue again to have his 10-month touchline ban overturned.
Italy's Tribunal of Sports Arbitration represents Conte's last realistic chance of being allowed into a technical area at any point this season.
Conte is exiled on match days from executive boxes, commentary booths or simply a seat in the grandstand as his punishment for failing to report an attempt at match-fixing from the period he was in charge of Siena, in Serie B, during 2010/11, a charge he denies.
Juventus have stood by their head coach, as they would, given that in 42 league matches in charge, Conte is yet to oversee a defeat.
Tonight, perched somewhere high above the action at Stamford Bridge, well out of earshot of his players, Conte will watch the team he has briefed and prepared contest Juve's first match in the Champions League for almost two years, against Chelsea, the competition's title holders.
His sense of frustration rises sharply because of the importance of the fixture, but the direct absence of the coach from the technical area can hardly be said to have impacted badly so far on Juve.
Last Sunday was a good example. Juventus went to Genoa, Conte had rested some senior players, mindful of the trip to London, and the scudetto holders endured a torrid first-half, falling behind. Conte could occasionally be glimpsed patrolling a broadcaster's booth like a caged tiger. His ban prevents him from communicating with players or assistants at half time.
In the age of the mobile telephone, that is a hard restriction to police. But whether it was Conte, by prior arrangement or suggestion, or Massimo Carerra - who now assumes the role of the acting head coach for each 90 minutes - who decided the substitutions and the timings of them against Genoa, someone in the strategy department deserves applause.
Mirko Vucinic, a striker with a far broader skills set than Alex Matri, whom he replaced 10 minutes into the second half, set up Emanuele Giaccherini to drive home the equaliser; Kwadwo Asamoah, on at left wing-back after 55 minutes then won, after a storming run down his flank, a penalty. Vucinic converted, to put Juve ahead.
A third substitute, the first-choice right wing-back Stephan Lichtsteiner then opened up the space for Vucinic to centre for Asamoah to make it 3-1, confirming Juve's 100 per cent start to the league campaign.
So, if the verdict goes against Conte on Friday, Juventus need not panic. His remote control management seems to be working rather well.