2019/20 Countdown: Juventus
Serie A – Champions; Coppa Italia – Quarter-finals; UEFA Champions League – Quarter-finals; Top scorer (All competitions) – Cristiano Ronaldo (28)
The Questions: Can Sarri handle the pressure in Turin?
You wouldn’t have thought it with the way Maurizio Sarri was treated at Chelsea. If you looked at some of the media and fans’ perspective of the Italian manager, you’d probably expect him to have gotten the sack at Stamford Bridge, not to talk of getting the Juventus job. But Juve recognised how the former banker, who took Napoli to some wonderful heights and made them fun, finished in the top three with Chelsea and won the Europa League while reaching the League Cup final. As such, the Bianconeri made him the replacement for the departing Massimo Allegri.
But the pressure at Juventus, while it may not be as high or absurd as it started to be at Chelsea, would still be big for the manager in Turin. Juve fans have never warmed to an ‘outsider’ taking charge, as current Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti found out. Even Allegri, who led the team to successive domestic doubles and two Champions League finals, met discontent when appointed, and his first day of training was accompanied by eggs from fans.
And for a manager like Sarri who’s rigid about his style of play, managing a side with a few egos, getting the fans onside will be quite the ask. It could well work out brilliantly for all parties, particularly if Sarri delivers the coveted Champions League. But for now, it’s a case of swapping one pressure-cooker for another.
The Old Lady have raided the free market once more, with Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot joining after their respective contracts with Arsenal and Paris St. Germain expired, while Gigi Buffon has returned after a year in the French capital. Luca Pellegrini has been signed from Roma, Merih Demiral joins from Sassuolo, Cristian Romero arrives from Genoa, while Matthijs De Ligt – who knocked Juve out of last season’s Champions League – has been snapped up from Ajax. Meanwhile, Danilo has arrived from Premier League champions Manchester City.
Danilo’s arrival means Joao Cancelo goes the other way, while Stefano Sturaro has joined Genoa. Emil Audero has permanently signed for Sampdoria, Leonardo Spinazzola has joined Roma, Martin Caceres has been released, Andrea Barzagli has retired, and Moise Kean has moved to Everton.
Juve are still very much top dogs in Italy and have what it takes – especially in a man like Cristiano Ronaldo – to finally end their 24-year Champions League drought. Sarri’s plan might take time, but it will reap dividends if it comes to fruition.
Juventus are the top dogs in Italy, which might make every league title seem less special. They’ve stumbled so many times in their bid to become kings of Europe, and a mental block may well have developed. Sarri’s style has to bear fruit quickly to keep the fans onside.
The Gaffer (Maurizio Sarri)
Crucified at Stamford Bridge last season despite finishing in third place and reaching two cup finals, and probably see a move back to Italy as a relief. Juve have their demands as well, though, and he probably has to hit the ground running.
How will they do
The league title is almost a certainty, but still has to be delivered. Triumph in Europe is the obsession.
Kunle Ajao121 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not