Juventus remain inconsistent with their form and risk losing in all three competitions, come the end of the season.
Juventus fired Maurizio Sarri last summer and replaced him with club legend Andrea Pirlo. The 41-year-old came to the helm with absolutely no experience, even with junior sides, and has found his first managerial job hard to come by. The Bianconeri sit seven points off top spot in Serie A and are up against Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals.
Pirlo’s men have a relatively easy Champions League knockout tie against Porto, but they are fourth favourites to win the competition- going by the odds. With local and international rivals both sharing arguably better rosters, Juventus risk going without a piece of major silverware for the first time in nearly a decade and undoubtedly, Pirlo will face the criticism.
Is it really the manager who is at fault in this case too, or will there be another case where he is made the scapegoat? Juve’s board does not have a strong case either, because the manager has very limited and ripening resources, thanks to the club’s propensity of signing cheap or free players who are in the dusk of their careers.
Andrea Agnelli has done little to support Pirlo with quality players. As a matter of fact, the club’s summer signings have delivered individually, in the shapes of Alvaro Morata and Weston McKennie, but the overall picture remains bleak. Juventus are overly reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo, who is 35, and has scored 15 of their 37 league goals so far.
With an average squad age of 30, Pirlo has been forced to pick players who may well be beyond their primes. Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini are not as good as they were some years ago, whereas the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Juan Cuadrado are also towards the end of their careers and visibly struggle to physically cope up with a demanding schedule.
One of the biggest problems that Juve have faced lately is at the left-back’s spot. Alex Sandro’s fitness and performances remain a cause for concern but the club has refused to sign a natural fill-in for the Brazilian. The owners may soon be in the market, but that would be to sign Marcelo, who himself is an outcast at Real Madrid and has deteriorated in quality.
Sarri’s sacking itself was not welcomed well by the Juventus faithful and the major problem surrounding Pirlo remains with a squad which is not competent enough. The likes of AC Milan, Atalanta and Inter Milan have all invested well to build a team that can challenge for silverware. Juve meanwhile, have been happy with what they have despite subpar European campaigns.
Tactically speaking, Pirlo has been intelligent to build a balanced foundation but has encountered the said problems. Morata has been better than he was with Atletico Madrid or Chelsea, but there could have been a better striker in the regulation spot, whereas Ronaldo has been popping up with moments of individual brilliance more often than not.
It remains to be seen whether the board realises its problems soon, or managers continue to be looked down upon, as was the case last time around.