Serie A: 5 Tactical changes to expect from Maurizio Sarri at Juventus
Juventus begin their Serie A title defense against Parma next weekend. With the club deciding to part with Max Allegri after five trophy-laden years, it was perhaps unsurprising to see the club appoint Maurizio Sarri.
The Neapolitan did bring an attractive brand of football to his hometown club, although his efforts to replicate that success with Chelsea in the English Premier League was disappointing, to say the least.
The Londoners qualified for the Champions League on account of incompetent displays from their direct competitors and won the Europa League in a rather underwhelming fashion with Frankfurt being the only team to give them a shred of competitive action.
Hidden amidst the chaotic and rather inconsistent Chelsea displays were moments of finesse; Mateo Kovacic's brilliant assist for Eden Hazard's goal at Anfield or N'golo Kante's sublime finish at Selhurst Park.
Perhaps the Italian needed time to imprint his style on an aging squad bereft of leadership and robbed of the financial clout of its previous campaigns. Perhaps the Italian himself could not settle into the football culture prevalent in the country, preferring to go back to familiar pastures or most conveniently, the opportunity to manage one of the biggest clubs in Italy, and if not in the world was too big for him to pass up.
Speculation put aside, the incorrigible fact remains, the Italian is the present coach at Juventus. The Juve hierarchy made a concrete decision to let a highly capable manager walk away as they want to imbue a more attacking football style on the pitch, Allegri's failure to deliver on the coveted Champions League, even after the inclusion of Cristiano Ronaldo into an already formidable squad also might have played the board's hand.
The board perceives the adoption of an attacking style paramount to winning the European grail and the signing of Sarri signals an impetus in that direction. For better or worse, the Italian has a fixed philosophy that he brings with him, here are a few tactical changes that Juventus might undergo under his guidance.
#5 A high defensive line
Sarri favors a high defensive line in his systems. His preference for ball playing defenders is also well documented with Kalidou Koulibaly at Napoli and David Luiz at Chelsea. He likes mobile defenders who can give support to the pressing style implemented in the system and play quick interchanges down the passing lanes, and often switch long plays down the flanks.
This system worked wonders at Napoli but was unsuited to Chelsea, fullbacks Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso were not mobile enough to support the system, causing Luiz and partner Toni Rudiger to often play the ball up long.
Sarri will be looking to implement his system, starting from the backline, while also planning to avoid the problems that plagued him at Chelsea. With Juve possessing a marauding fullback combination in Alex Sandro and the recently acquired Danilo, the centre back pairing of Leonardo Bonnuci and Georgio Chiellini will surely be phased out in favor of a more vibrant partnership in the form of Daniele Rugani and Matias de Ligt.
Sarri has been a long term admirer of Rugani, attempting to buy the young defender at both of his last clubs. The Juve prodigy has largely spent his time being an understudy to his more senior counterparts, he has decent pace and can pass the ball. Alongside the domineering presence of another precocious talent, De Ligt, Sarri will seek to increase the mobility of his backline.