Soccer

Coaching carousel in full swing, Athletic Club’s Copa del Rey double date and more stories you might’ve missed

European soccer took something of a breather this week as the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League took a break before the round of 16 second legs in the former and the opening legs of the same stage in the latter.

That did not mean that the entirety of the continental scene took a break, though, with big results in the Premier League, Ligue 1 and the Copa del Rey as Barcelona completed a dramatic comeback against Sevilla.

Unnoticed, perhaps, was the flurry of coaching changes made across France, Germany and Italy, one Spanish club reaching both upcoming Copa finals, SS Lazio and Torino creating another potential walkover scenario in Serie A and a Frenchman opening up about his long COVID battle.

This is your weekly dose of alternative headlines.

Genesio replaces Stephan in Rennes

Julien Stephan unexpectedly resigned as coach of Stade Rennais earlier this week after another poor run of form threatened European qualification and the Ligue 1 outfit moved quickly to secure Bruno Genesio as his replacement after the ex-Olympique Lyonnais man left Beijing Guoan in China.

Gross out, Grommozis in as Schalke play musical chairs

Schalke 04’s agonizing slide toward 2. Bundesliga continues and they have appointed their fifth coach of the campaign with Dimitrios Grammozis coming in for Christian Gross as part of a sweeping move that has also seen the likes of inept sporting director Jochen Schneider removed.

Kramer in for Neuhaus for Bielefeld

More surprising than Schalke’s latest farce was Arminia Bielefeld’s risky decision to replace Uwe Neuhaus with Frank Kramer as the newly promoted side still have survival within reach and had been led to the top-flight and recent results like the 3-3 draw with Bayern Munich by Neuhaus.

Struggling Crotone bank on Cosmi

FC Crotone are also European strugglers who changed coach this week with Serse Cosmi coming in for Giovanni Stroppa with the team nine points off safety in Serie A and with just three wins all season — only Parma Calcio can boast a worse record in Italy’s topflight with just two victories.  

Athletic in Copa del Rey double

Athletic Club of Bilbao will play in two Copa de Rey finals in as many weeks after they reached the 2020-21 final with the 2019-20 one yet to be played. The first edition will be a Basque derby with Real Sociedad while the second — both in April — will be against Barcelona after their midweek win.

2019-20 Copa del Rey final

  • Saturday, April 3: Real Sociedad vs. Athletic Bilbao (La Cartuja, Seville)

2020-21 Copa del Rey final

  • Saturday, April 17: Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao (La Cartuja, Seville)

Lazio-Torino walkover verdict expected

Serie A has repeated the messy Juventus-Napoli scenario with Torino unable to travel to Rome for their midweek clash with Lazio due to the quarantine imposed on them by local health authorities, so a decision is now due next week on the outcome with a walkover and legal action possible.

Nantes’ Augustin reveals ‘long COVID’ condition

Jean-Kevin Augustin of FC Nantes in France’s Ligue 1 is suffering from “long COVID” and will not be available for Les Canaris for the remainder of the season as he rebuilds his fitness while Antoine Kombouare’s men fight for their lives in Le Championnat. Newcastle United’s Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles have also suffered from the condition.  



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