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New coaches the attraction in USA/Europe Champions Cup zone

The USA/Europe zone of the International Champions Cup will provide no fewer than five new coaches with the chance to see how their squads stack up ahead of the new season.

The influx of cash from a bumper television rights deal has seen Premier League clubs entice not just a wave of playing talent to England, but many of the world’s top coaches as well.

Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho will renew rivalries from their LaLiga days across the Manchester divide at City and United, while Antonio Conte arrived at Chelsea to add to the likes of Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham.

It is perhaps the dawning of the age of the “supercoach” in the Premier League, but it is not just in England where change has been commonplace, with half of the 10 teams in the USA/Europe ICC zone employing new coaches for the 2016-17 campaign.

Conte is the only representative from the new Premier League contingent and he will get his first taste of domestic competition against Liverpool in Pasadena on July 27, before assessing his side against Champions League winners Real Madrid three days later.

Guardiola’s move to City left a vacancy at Bayern Munich that was filled by Carlo Ancelotti, and the experienced Italian may take the chance to run the rule over new signings Mats Hummels and Renato Sanches during the pre-season tournament.

Ancelotti will come face to face with some familiar faces, with Bayern set to face his former clubs Madrid and AC Milan in two of their three matches, the latter themselves having installed a coach, with Vincenzo Montella the latest man charged with returning the club to their former glories.

Part of Ancelotti’s lure for Bayern is his past success in Europe, with the 57-year-old having won the Champions League three times as a coach, and it was for similar reasons that Paris Saint-Germain turned to Unai Emery to replace Laurent Blanc.

Blanc won 11 of a possible 12 domestic trophies at PSG, but a failure to land the coveted Champions League led to the appointment of Emery, who guided Sevilla to an unprecedented three straight Europa League titles.

One man still very much in his job is Luis Enrique, who built on a treble-winning first season in charge at Barcelona by completing a LaLiga and Copa del Rey double last term.

The Catalan giants have added to their already strong squad with the signings of Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Digne, Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes in the close season, and Luis Enrique says the new players have the same lofty expectations that Barca always face.

“We want to fight for all the titles available and entertain the Barca fans around the world,” he said. 

“We continue improving and evolving. The squad was already very good. We have strengthened and improved.”

Barca take on Celtic, themselves with a new manager in Brendan Rodgers, in Dublin on July 30, and face Premier League champions Leicester City on August 3 as Claudio Ranieri’s men get a flavour of what sort of challenges lie in wait ahead of their foray into the Champions League.

Fri 22 Jul, 2016
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