Third place in the league table isn't a bad place for any team to be. A draw with a team of Atletico Madrid's caliber in the group stage of the Champions League would be a thing to celebrate for many. But this is not any team we are talking about. This is Juventus. And for them, the start of the season has been no less than a mess.
From Sarri having a bout of pneumonia to having to relinquish top spot in the league to fierce rivals Inter, a lot has been going wrong for Juventus. Add to that, their inability to begin the Champions League campaign on the right note. Of course, this is too soon in the season to make anything out of it. But their problems run deeper than these initial results.
They began their transfer business quite impressively but then failed to close it properly. Sure, they got Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot for free and signed the hotshot Matthijs de Ligt but their almost farcical attempts to get rid of Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic could have been avoided. This all, however, began when they decided to go with Maurizio Sarri to replace the outgoing Allegri.
Maurizio Sarri is an odd character in the world of football. Be his coaching philosophy, his dressing, or his journey in football. He is among the new breed of football coaches who haven’t played football professionally. Yet, his journey from a banker to the head coach of Juventus has been nothing short of extraordinary. After popularising his exciting brand of football at Napoli, also known as Sarriball, he moved to Chelsea at the beginning of 2018-19 season. While the season was a mixed bag, Sarri still ended helping Chelsea claim the Europa League title. Now at Juventus, a lot is expected of him.
Let's start by looking at the reasons why Sarri is not the right fit for Juventus.
#1 The style of play
Sarri is known for his possession-based attacking brand of football, much akin to Pep Guardiola’s style. The elements of positional play can be clearly seen in his teams’ attacking and defending. His teams play a high-pressing, quick-passing brand of football with the aim of forcing mistakes from the opposition players. Defensively, his players play a high line with a focus on retaining possession. Playing out from the back, the goalkeeper and the defenders are involved in starting the attacks which are taken forward by the fullbacks through vertical passes to the attacking third.
Though very entertaining and high scoring, Sarri’s football is equally vulnerable at the back. His open and attacking teams are prone to conceding high number of goals. In his three seasons at Napoli, the team conceded a total of 143 goals. But over time, Sarri managed to find a perfect balance and came close to claiming his first Serie A title during the 2017/18 season. However, in the end, Juventus pipped Napoli to the title by a meagre 4 points.
At Chelsea, he wasn’t given sufficient time to truly implement his style of play. As seen during his time at Napoli, it takes time to perfect his system. The swashbuckling football seen at Napoli was the result of work done over three years.
Sarri prefers to stick to his usual 4-3-3 system which he sometimes tweaks for a 3-4-2-1 system. He emphasizes on midfield and attacking from the back. The goalkeeper and the defenders play a major role in the so-called Sarriball. This style of play is quite in contrast to how Juventus played under Allegri and needs a lot of getting used to.