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Dec 6, 2012

Conte set for Juve return

Antonio Conte makes his long-awaited return to the touchline as Serie A leaders Juventus visit Palermo this weekend.

The Juve head coach was handed a 10-month suspension in August - later reduced to four months on appeal - for his alleged role in the 'Calcioscommesse' match-fixing scandal.

Saturday sees that lengthy ban from the dugout draw to a close, with a pre-match press conference in Sicily marking Conte's first appointment before he takes control of the Italian champions once again.

Palermo boss Gian Piero Gasperini is a confirmed admirer of the 43-year-old but will be giving him no quarter on Sunday afternoon.

He told La Repubblica: "In my opinion, Conte has always been a fine example for anyone to follow. I have a great relationship with him and he's been missed.

"I certainly won't wish him good luck against us, though, in fact I hope it goes badly for him! From personal experience, I can say that a coach's direct involvement is very important to his players.''

Juventus have even posted an electronic countdown to Conte's return on their official website.

Assistant boss Angelo Alessio was delighted to seal progression to the knockout stages of the Champions League before handing over the reins.

"Credit must go to these lads because even without Antonio they've done everything that's been asked of them,'' he told juventus.com.

"As time has passed we've become more and more confident in our own means.''

Inter Milan and Napoli go head-to-head at the San Siro with both sides bidding to close Juve's advantage at the top of the table.

The Nerazzurri are currently at odds with Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who is refusing to take a wage cut and faces an uncertain future in Milan as a result.

AC Milan look to continue their recent resurgence with a positive result at Torino, while Roma and Fiorentina battle it out for dominance of the European places on Saturday night.

Elsewhere, Atalanta have lost three games in a row but face a Parma side struggling hard for consistency.

Cristiano Bergodi is searching for a first win since replacing Giovanni Stroppa at Pescara last month, with Sunday's opponents Genoa floundering in the relegation places having lost seven of their last eight games.

Cagliari are on a poor run of form and host Chievo, while 19th-placed Siena welcome Catania to the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

On Monday night, Bologna look to move away from the bottom three with a positive result against Lazio and a much-improved Sampdoria side host Udinese.

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