Serie A: Juventus derailed by ten-month ban for Conte

Antonio Conte is the most high-profile Calcioscommesse casualty

Juventus' worst fears have been realised, following confirmation of Antonio Conte's lengthy suspension...

"Expect the initial reaction of the Conte-fond Juventus stars to be one of galvanisation. Odds of 2.186/5 on them defeating Napoli are attractive given their desire to win for Conte."

Long-term Serie A admirers will realise that you don't need to wait until the opening day for the fun to begin. Whether it's a summer-long series of court cases or Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini sacking a coach he hired only weeks before, there is always some off-field entertainment to enjoy.

Enjoyment perhaps doesn't suitably describe the sensation that Juventus fans are feeling right now though after it was announced a day before their first game of the season that Antonio Conte won't be allowed in the dugout for its entirety.

The club icon, who guided them to an unbeaten scudetto in 2011/12 following six years off the pace, has been handed a ten-month ban for failing to report match-fixing alleged to have taken place during his spell in charge of Siena.

With assistant Angelio Alessio receiving an eight-month sanction relating to the same situation and Cristian Stellini resigning on Monday after agreeing to a 30-month suspension, Massimo Carrera is poised to stand in on matchdays.

His first competitive outing will be Saturday's Supercoppa showdown with Coppa Italia conquerors Napoli in Beijing, but there is no guarantee that he will spend the whole campaign in the role.

Conte is set to appeal - and in Italy such procedures regularly result in reduced punishments - while rumours suggest that Italy boss Cesare Prandelli could be asked to fill in.

This writer expects the initial reaction of the Conte-fond Bianconeri stars to be one of galvanisation. Odds of 2.186/5 on them defeating Napoli - who also courted controversy this week by being caught spying on a Juventus training session - are attractive given their desire to win for Conte.

Walter Mazzarri's men outperformed the champions in their last meeting in the Coppa Italia but are still adjusting to a change of tactics implemented in response to Ezequiel Lavezzi's departure.

The long-term impact of Conte's exclusion from weekend activities is tougher to gauge. Optimists will argue that his main work is done on the training field and so it shouldn't cause major disruption, however it wouldn't be a surprise if such an unusual set-up had an unsettling effect.

They remain 2.265/4 Serie A favourites though and that position is justified. They were the most impressive side last season and have strengthened with Lucio, Mauricio Isla, Kwadwo Asamoah, Paul Pogba and Sebastian Giovinco, while chief rivals AC Milan 4.3100/30 are considerably weaker.

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