When Juventus made the tough call to sack Maurizio Sarro after winning the club’s ninth straight Serie A title, they opted to boldly replace him with former star player Andrea Pirlo.
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Despite having no previous coaching experience at the professional level, the decision was certainly an eye opener, but understandable given his successful career as a player with the Old Lady.
Currently sitting third in Serie A and having lost their Champions League Round of 16 first leg against FC Porto 2-1, the pressure is building on their rookie manager. Although he’s shown some signs of being a shrewd tactician, Juventus have struggled to consistently get results, as they’ve lacked fluidity and cohesion on many occasions.
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The fact they’ve only managed to draw winnable games against Benevento, Crotone and Verona (twice), plus lost to Fiorentina, has cost them dearly in the league. As things stand, they currently sit seven points behind table topping Inter Milan, which is definitely not a position they’re accustomed to finding themselves in.
Only sixth best in Serie A in terms of goals scored, they haven’t been able to frequently carve out quality chances, as they’ve too often relied on Cristiano Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata and Federico Chiesa saving them with moments of magic. Ronaldo especially has been their saving grace, for the legendary attacker’s already scored a wicked 19 goals in the league and 26 in all competitions.
Sorely lacking creativity in midfield, this has been an area that they will want to improve in moving forward so they can enhance the amount of goalscoring opportunity they conjure.
Although they’ve underwhelmed offensively, plenty of upside has been found on the defensive end, with them possessing the best defensive record in Serie A, only conceding 20 goals in 21 matches. Full of quality in their stopping ranks, the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Matthijs De Ligt, Merih Demiral, Giorgio Chiellini, Danilo and Alex Sandro have given them depth and experience to handle most opponents well.
With things not going to plan under the guidance of Pirlo so far and injuries playing their part, it’ll be intriguing to track their progress through what looms as a crucial final third of the season.
Only time will tell how they fare, but with a squad boasting so much quality expectations will be high that he can get them firimg on all cylinders sooner rather than later – which is definitely easier said than done.