Welcome to Soccer’s Strangest Season

The World Cup will split seasons in two in much of the world, including the Premier League campaign that opens this weekend. What is revealed could be fascinating.

Gian Piero Ventrone surveyed his handiwork with just the hint of a smile. A few minutes earlier, Ventrone, Tottenham Hotspur’s fitness coach, had gathered the club’s players together on the turf at the Seoul World Cup stadium and informed them of their next assignment.

They had, by that stage, already been training for more than an hour, in searing heat and cloying humidity. Now they had one final exercise: Ventrone instructed the players to run the length of the field. Not once, or

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