Juventus: How Antonio Conte's Absence Could Work in His Team's Favor

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Juventus: How Antonio Conte's Absence Could Work in His Team's Favor
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Antonio Conte has recently had his ban for not reporting match-fixing reduced from 10 months to four, handing Juventus a major boost for the rest of the season (via The Guardian).

This means that Conte will be able to resume his duties from Massimo Carrera at the beginning of November, potentially away at Pescara.

In the meantime, Juve have been steamrolling the rest of the league with a string of fine performances, collecting 19 out of a possible 21 points and leading many to reevaluate the potential of this side. The discussion as to whether the Bianconeri could be contenders in the Champions League is a valiant one, despite facing the immediate task of qualifying from a tough group that includes Shakhtar Donetsk and the European Champions, Chelsea.

With Conte's return now in sight, it is quite possible that this experience can be used as a positive for the side moving forward. The team spirit in the camp will evidently be galvanised, especially after Conte vehemently denied any wrongdoing, creating a sense of injustice as a result.

Then there is the other issue that many have overlooked in this, assistant Carrera has performed admirably in his own right. Of course Conte has had the opportunity to train the team during the week, as well as discuss potential substitutions and tactics in advance, but he would still not have expected himself to have been replaced quite so seamlessly.

Significant experience will have been gained by Carrera, which can continue to be a benefit upon the return of Conte, lessening the burden on the manager when the games arrive thick and fast. During the preseason, it was envisaged that Juve would struggle to change the course of matches in the absence of their manager, given that Carrera, without any prior first team experience, would be unable to improvise when necessary.

This has been dispelled after several successful changes this season earned Juve points from drawing, or even losing positions.

Fabio Quagliarella was introduced at Stamford Bridge in the opening Champions League match with the Bianconeri trailing 2-1. The former Napoli striker scored the equalizer against Chelsea, before striking the bar in the dying stages to leave Juve wondering what might have been. The match ended 2-2.

Mirko Vucinic came on as a substitute when Juve were losing away at Genoa, and in the space of 30 minutes, the Montenegrin had scored one goal and assisted two more to seal a crucial victory.

Juve's unbeaten run in the league has continued despite Carrera being in charge for seven matches and counting, with the streak currently standing at 46 matches. If Carrera can manage to hand back the reigns to Conte with the unbeaten run still in check and the champions sitting pretty at the top of the league, the Bianconeri will receive a huge boost.

Napoli at home next weekend will probably prove to be Carrera's toughest test before a tricky away trip to Catania. Home matches with Bologna and Inter follow before Conte likely returns.

If Napoli cannot dislodge Juve in the meantime, then it is highly probable that the reigning champions will go on to defend their title despite being without their manager for four months.

A sense of smugness will undoubtedly arise in this event, safe in the knowledge that the Lega Calcio's punishment did not even damage the club, but in fact worked in their favour.

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