Chiesa returns to Juventus training following ACL injury

By Sports Desk October 03, 2022

Federico Chiesa has returned to first-team training with Juventus, nine months after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The Italy international underwent surgery after injuring his left knee in a Serie A win over Roma in January, causing him to miss the rest of Juventus' 2021-22 campaign.

Chiesa, who starred in the Azzurri's Euro 2020 triumph last year, scored four goals and added two assists in all competitions last season before suffering the injury.

A statement on Juventus' website revealed the attacker "began a partial and gradual return to the group" on Monday after coach Massimiliano Allegri recently professed his hope the 24-year-old would return to action before the World Cup.
 
Juventus host Maccabi Haifa in a huge Champions League group-stage match on Wednesday, having suffered back-to-back defeats against Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica so far in the competition.

The Bianconeri have never previously lost their first three games of a Champions League campaign, and they were eliminated from their group the last time they failed to record a victory in their opening three matches (in 2013-14 – D2 L1).

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  • Brazil coach Tite wishes Pele good health in 'difficult moment' Brazil coach Tite wishes Pele good health in 'difficult moment'

    Brazil head coach Tite recalled how he was "shaking" when he first met Pele, as he wished the three-time World Cup winner good health.

    Pele was hospitalised on Tuesday, though his daughter said a day later there was "no surprise or emergency" pertaining to his condition, with Pele also describing it as a "monthly visit".

    It was later reported, though not officially confirmed, that the 82-year-old had been moved to palliative care as he was no longer responding to chemotherapy treatment.

    The hospital treating Brazil's record scorer described his condition as "stable", while Pele issued a statement to say he remained "strong, with a lot of hope".

    Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Selecao's World Cup round-of-16 tie against South Korea, Tite shared a memory of meeting Pele for the first time.

    "He's probably the only person where I was shaking when I greeted him," he said. 

    "Speaking from the bottom of my heart, it was a very emotional moment for me... I didn't even know what was going on... Someone said, 'go and hug Pele'.

    "I stopped, started shaking, hands sweating, heartbeat racing. I said, 'wow, I'm going to have opportunity to greet Pele.' He is the person who represents the human aspect.

    "Health, Pele, health. That's all I can give you. It's a difficult moment."

    The Santos great underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his colon last year, and has been in and out of hospital since.

    Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane and Vinicius Junior are among those to have sent messages of support from the World Cup in Qatar, while former Brazil international and Tite's assistant, Cesar Sampaio, also added his well-wishes.

    Sampaio – who began his career at Santos, albeit several years after Pele had retired – recalled having the opportunity to play with him.

    "I also had the blessing of meeting Pele," he said. "When I was at Santos, I had the chance to play with him, it was something even more than what Tite said, to be able to be with him on the pitch was so difficult because of what he represents.

    "Regardless of your religion, we ask you please send him a prayer and positive vibes. He influenced my development as a man and a human being."

  • Japan v Croatia: Discipline the key for Dalic ahead of last-16 clash Japan v Croatia: Discipline the key for Dalic ahead of last-16 clash

    Zlatko Dalic stressed that staying disciplined will be crucial if Croatia are to defeat Japan and reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

    Croatia, runners-up in Group F behind Morocco, face Japan on Monday in the last 16.

    Japan were the shock victors of Group E in Qatar, having claimed 2-1 victories over Germany and Spain either side of a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica.

    Runners-up to France in 2018, Croatia have only lost two of their eight knockout stage games at the World Cup (W4 D2), while Japan have never progressed beyond the last 16.

    Hajime Moriyasu's team have shown their quality against top sides, however, and Dalic knows his team must stay regimented if they are to avoid an upset.

    "Spain might have thought it was going to be easier, but Japan are a team that do not quit, as they showed against Germany as well," Dalic told reporters.

    "At some point, when Costa Rica were leading against Germany, Spain were out of the tournament, so they couldn't allow themselves to lose. Japan deserved to win.

    "Before the group stage, if we could choose an opponent in the next round, some people may have said Japan, but after seeing them beat Germany and Spain, they are anything but an easier opponent.

    "If you are first in a group with Germany and Spain, it shows your quality and that you are playing at a really high level. What I would say about the Japanese team is that they never quit. They conceded goals at the beginning of the match both against Germany and Spain, but they came back.

    "They had a lot of faith in themselves, and that is a great virtue of the Japan national team. For us, it will be key that we are also disciplined and patient. We cannot make mistakes, because Japan has the quality to punish those mistakes. We need to be good at falling back if we lose the ball."

    Croatia might have progressed from a group that also included Belgium and Canada, but failed to score in two of their matches – they had only drawn a blank in two of 13 matches at the tournament in the 2006, 2014 and 2018 editions combined.

    Dalic's side like to control possession, but that could play into Japan's hands. They averaged just 32.3 per cent of the ball across their three group stage games. Indeed, their two wins over Spain and Germany came with 17.7 per cent and 26.1 per cent possession respectively, while the one match they lost came when they had more of the ball against Costa Rica (56.8 per cent).

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Japan – Ritsu Doan

    Three of Japan's four goals scored have been scored by substitutes. Ritsu Doan has netted two of these. 

    Only three players have ever scored at least three goals as a substitute at a single World Cup – Andre Schurrle in 2014 (three), Roger Milla in 1990 (four), and Laszlo Kiss in 1982 (three).

    Croatia – Ivan Perisic

    Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic and Luka Modric run the midfield for Croatia, but their attack is not quite as world-class.

    That being said, in Ivan Perisic they have a wide player more than capable of chipping in. The 33-year-old has scored nine goals at major tournaments, which is a joint record for Croatia along with Davor Suker.

    Perisic has also set up seven goals at either the Euros or the World Cup, a national record, and no Croatia player has had more shots so far in Qatar than his tally of five.

    PREDICTION

    This will be the third World Cup meeting between Japan and Croatia, with Japan winless and goalless in the previous two – a 1-0 defeat in 1998 and a goalless draw in 2006, both in the group stage. 

    Opta's model says the odds are against Japan, who are given a 26 per cent chance of progressing to the last eight. Croatia are the favourites (46.1 per cent).

    Do not be surprised to see this one go to extra-time, though – the draw is ranked at a 27.9 per cent chance.

  • Wenger backs Van Gaal to 'gamble' when the time is right Wenger backs Van Gaal to 'gamble' when the time is right

    Criticism of Louis van Gaal as a "conservative coach" is unfair, according to Arsene Wenger, who believes the Netherlands boss will "gamble" when required.

    Van Gaal has led the Oranje to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in his third stint in the job, beating the United States 3-1 on Saturday.

    The Netherlands also reached the semi-finals under the former Ajax and Barcelona coach in 2014, before missing out on qualification for Russia 2018 in his absence.

    Wenger, leading FIFA's technical study group, therefore believes Van Gaal deserves more leeway as his style of play in this tournament is scrutinised.

    After finishing top of Group A, Van Gaal told journalists to go home if the Netherlands' football was "terribly boring", as the accusation had been.

    "I would not classify Louis van Gaal as a conservative coach," Wenger said on Sunday. "I believe he has done remarkable work in his life and have a big respect for what he has delivered.

    "He is a bit more cautious until now in the game. I agree with you because Dutch football, I have to give them credit, historically, they've always been attacking.

    "In this competition, the numbers of possession is a bit less. That's it.

    "I don't know if he plays deliberately conservatively or whether he does that to be more efficient. But at the moment, it works for him.

    "And I wouldn't judge the potential for the Dutch until now. I think he knows. Van Gaal has huge experience.

    "And I was thinking last night this guy, he comes back and he's in the quarter-final again. He's in the last eight with Holland, and before he came back, Holland had struggled.

    "So, he has something special to carry the belief of a team, always to find the places in the tournament, and I have a huge respect for that.

    "Let's see how he develops his capabilities as well to go for a gamble. If the game is tied later on in the match, I'm convinced [he will]."

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