Why did Juventus replace Maurizio Sarri with Andrea Pirlo?
After their stunning exit in the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Lyon, Juventus relieved coach Maurizio Sarri of his duties as head coach of the club.
The sacking came just five days after the Old Lady lifted the Serie A title for the ninth year running. However, winning only the league title was deemed not enough by the decision-makers at Juventus, who decided to hire former player Andrea Pirlo to lead their charge next season.
But what went so wrong that the Italian champions decided to part with Sarri after just one campaign? We assess.
An average league campaign
Despite winning the league, it is safe to say that Juventus did not have a particularly good season in Serie A.
They finished the campaign with just 83 points - their lowest points tally since 2010-11 - when they finished seventh, and also the lowest points tally by a Serie A champion since AC Milan’s title-winning season, also in 2010-11.
Sarri’s predecessor Massimiliano Allegri, who was often criticised for his defensive tactics despite boasting of a plethora of world-class attacking talent, failed to break the 90-point barrier only once in his five seasons at Juventus – his first season in charge of the club where they won the league by 17 points, won the Copa Italia and reached the final of the UEFA Champions League.
Juventus finished just a point clear of Inter - who came second with 82 points - and lost seven league games, the most in a single season in nine years.
The Old Lady also failed to pick up six points against the other eight teams in the top nine of the Serie A standings, further proving their previously unseen vulnerability against the top sides.
They also conceded 43 goals in the league this season, the most since 2010-11.
Having lost three finals since their victory in 1996, Juventus have been yearning to win the UEFA Champions League.
Under Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus reached two finals in five years but after his failure against Ajax last season, the writing was on the wall for Allegri.
Juventus were hopeful that Sarri’s cup runs with Chelsea in England were proof that he could lead them to that elusive Champions League title. However, their defeat to Lyon in the round-of-16 added to what was a mediocre league campaign.
Their failure to win the Coppa Italia did not help Sarri’s case either. After beating Udinese and Roma in the round-of-16 and quarterfinal, Milan scraped by on away goals in the two-legged semi-final against Milan.
A terrible final against Napoli went to a penalty shootout, where Paulo Dybala and Danilo missed their penalties while Napoli converted all four to pip them to the cup.
While it may be harsh to sack a manager that led the team to a league title in his first campaign in-charge, the standards at Juventus are such that winning the Serie A is not considered an achievement, but rather the bare minimum. With that in mind, it is understandable why the Bianconeri decided to part ways with the 61-year-old.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Marco Bertorello
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