Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri has been sacked after one season in charge of Juventus after their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 elimination to Lyon last night. The ex-Chelsea and Napoli boss leaves his post despite winning the Serie A title this season, with performances and standards having dropped compared to recent years.

Sarri failed to impose his style, once more, on a top side as they failed to deliver on the club’s biggest match of the season.

Although the Neapolitan will point to a personal journey through the Italian football pyramid that culminated in his first Serie A title, and The Old Lady’s ninth straight Scudetto, having quit his banking job for football 21 years ago.

A Lack of adaptability and an ageing squad contributed to a rather disappointing season for Juve, with Serie A victory ultimately secured by virtue of a better head-to-head record with all their direct title rivals, Sarri’s side laboured at times, winning only two of their eight games post-lockdown including the Coppa Italia final defeat to Napoli

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Maurizio Sarri
TURIN, ITALY – AUGUST 1: Despite an underwhelming campaign Maurizio Sarri secured the minimum requirement of a Scudetto for Juventus. (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)

The aim of a first Champions League victory since 1996 fueled the moves for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018 and Sarri a year later, the tactician has failed to deliver on the club’s dream. Doing that with Juve’s lowest title-winning points tally, most losses (seven), worst defensive record (43 goals conceded) and least goals scored in the top five (76). Juventus have also failed to get past Lyon in the Round of 16, exiting the competition on away goals after a 2-1 win. Ronaldo scored the brace for his side but unlike against Atletico Madrid last season, lacked the quality around him to produce a third goal.

Hence, the Bianconeri have failed to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2016, having appeared in two of the last five finals.

The Juventus hierarchy do share a portion of the blame, as they have failed to unearth young talents or supplement an ageing squad which had the best defense and midfield in Europe within the last five years. While Matthijs de Ligt is gradually proving his quality in defence, Juan Cuadrado has filled in at right back for most of the season, Danilo has frequented both fullback roles while box-to-box midfielder Blaise Matuidi has deputised at left back, too.

Furthermore, the midfield has lacked any flavour this season, with Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot taking time to settle as Sarri failed to adapt a system to the talent at his disposal. Douglas Costa has lacked consistency due to frequent injuries and now looks past his best. In attack, Serie A MVP Paolo Dybala has forged a fruitful connection with Ronaldo and provides the team’s only creative threat.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates couldn’t do enough to get past Lyon over two legs. (AP)

Ronaldo’s 37th goal in 47 games for Juve this season broke a 95-year goal record, it is telling that the supporting cast lacked the quality to be counted. Afterall, his team created less chances than all their title rivals in the domestic season despite winning the title and it is easy to see why the five-time Ballon D’or winner was the only goal scoring threat once again versus Lyon.

The next managerial appointment will suggest The Italian Giants’ direction, with the Serie A chasing pack inching ever-closer.

Altogether, Sarri’s exit is not the only change needed at the Allianz Stadium.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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