Tuesday June 18 2019
Tactical Analysis: Sarri's Juventus

Maurizio Sarri wasn’t always a 4-3-3 tactician, as Elio Salerno goes into a deep dive on what form his new-look Juventus will take.

Now that the speculation is finally over, we can begin considering what Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus will actually look like.

It is widely recognised that the outgoing Chelsea boss favours the 4-3-3 formation. It is the system Sarri deployed whilst at Napoli and continued to use during his single season in the Premier League. Juve have regularly used the same shape under Max Allegri, so it would come as no surprise to see their new tactician maintain that set-up. However, stubborn Sarri has not always been married to that ideology.

It has taken many years of tinkering for the 60-year-old to piece together the parts that have helped create the recognisable ‘Sarriball’ style.  

During his time at Empoli, Sarri was able to elevate the Azzurri back into Serie A using a 4-3-1-2 and more recently, he has shown a slightly more pragmatic side when using an incisive approach to achieve success at Stamford Bridge. Whilst a move away from his heavily possession-based 4-3-3 at his new club remains highly unlikely, Sarri has proven that if required he can adapt in order to bring the best out of his team. 

Regardless of who the Bianconeri appointed, there are gaps in the squad that require filling, and with it a need to refresh the group with younger, more energetic players. The direction the club has chosen to take by appointing Sarri means that those new faces are now paramount in aiding the Tuscan’s journey in Turin.

At the back there is no urgent requirement to change the man between the sticks. Wojciech Szczesny has proven to be reliable and is certainly more than capable technically with his feet. With range to play short and long passes, he is well equipped for possession football, but those attributes will be tested. Despite completing around 80% of his passes last season, he averaged a lowly 22 per game, mainly due to the team’s strategy under Allegri. In comparison, Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga averaged 28 per game.

In front of Juve’s Polish stopper, Leonardo Bonucci’s technical quality will be key for Sarri in developing play from deep. Alongside Bonucci, captain Giorgio Chiellini has underappreciated quality in possession. Due to an awkward stance when on the ball, Chiellini is often labelled as a weak link, but his near 85% pass completion for last term suggests otherwise.  Former pupil Daniele Rugani could perhaps be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Sarri’s appointment.

During their time together at Empoli, it was Sarri who helped propel Rugani’s career. Such was his development at the time, it convinced Juve to purchase the player. It is fair to say that the Italian centre-back has stalled since and as a result has come under scrutiny for his weak performances. It remains to be seen if Rugani can emulate that success under Sarri again. It is one thing to perform that way at the Stadio Carlo Castellani and another to do it in the demanding, pressurised environment at Juve.

Additions will arrive at centre-back with deals for promising talents Merih Demiral and Cristian Romero close to finalisation, but a big name could yet be on the cards with PSG’s Marquinhos mentioned.

At full-back, Alex Sandro will be handed a boost with the arrival of Sarri. The Brazilian has lost his way after a fantastic beginning to his Juve career. After becoming somewhat withdrawn under Allegri, the attacking importance Sarri places on his full-backs would make Alex Sandro a pivotal figure, reviving his game in the process.

On the opposite side the defence the exit of Joao Cancelo appears certain. The names touted to replace the Portuguese international include Kieran Trippier and Elseid Hysaj. The latter would be a logical solution. Having worked with Sarri previously and at 25 years of age, integrating Hysaj into the team would be somewhat seamless with potential for him to develop further.

Juve’s midfield and attack are areas that will need significant work. A prerequisite for Sarri’s midfield is the role of ‘Regista’. His admiration for Jorginho has been well documented, but this time around he will be tasked with using a different player in that capacity. Miralem Pjanic is the current controller in Juve’s midfield and will be fundamental to the new Coach. The Bosnian’s technical quality is amongst the best in Europe and he will relish the change that is coming his way.

Sarri’s fluid midfield has worked best with two ball-carrying players either side of his midfield metronome. Those type of fluid central midfielders are lacking in the current squad. Rodrigo Bentancur has all the attributes needed to be that shuttling box-to-box player to the right of Pjanic, whilst Emre Can has the potential to adjust accordingly, both could see their games progress significantly under Sarri.

The third man in this midfield will be vital. The incoming Aaron Ramsey could transition into the position we saw Marek Hamsik play so effectively for Napoli under Sarri. Ramsey is a quick thinking, intelligent technician who can operate under pressure in both halves of the pitch with an important added extra, his ability to create and scoring goals.

It seems that Juventus will not leave Sarri short of midfield options, with considerable investments expected. The names are notable. Lazio’s stylish Serbian Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Lyon’s dynamic Tanguy Ndombele and of course the exuberant Paul Pogba. Any of those will considerably raise the standard and would be suited to the roles mentioned. The Italian option could come in the form of Nicolò Zaniolo. The 19-year-old is made in the mould of a modern midfield player and would certainly fit the bill.

It is the final third that will arguably experience the most substantial change, leading to perhaps the biggest question: what does Maurizio Sarri do with Cristiano Ronaldo? A player that enjoys freedom so he is able to influence the game in the moments and the areas he sees fit. That isn’t how Sarri’s positional play works, but this where he will have to adapt. When you have one of the world’s best players, it would be suicide to limit him by restricting the way he operates. 

It is hard to see Ronaldo playing as an inverted winger in a similar fashion to Lorenzo Insigne or Eden Hazard. A False 9 function could work, where a teammate such as Federico Bernardeschi would be introduced to allow a rotational tandem between the Italian and CR7. This option could perhaps open the door for the missing Paulo Dybala, but the Argentine’s future remains uncertain.

Moise Kean is not to be forgotten in all of this. The 19-year-old’s versatility could make him the ideal foil for Ronaldo. Given Kean’s physical presence and ability to work effectively in wide areas and centrally, his skillset would complement Ronaldo and allow Sarri to maintain his positional structure.

However, if a striker such as Mauro Icardi does arrive, then how does that affect The Old Lady’s superstar Number 7? One solution could be the previously referenced 4-3-1-2, but that would effectively end the Bianconeri’s pursuit of talented Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa. A player that appears tailor made for the right side of Sarri’s trident attack.

Chiesa is perfectly capable of playing as an isolated wide man and dominating one v one situations. Be it by removing opposition defenders via dribbling or quick, clever off the shoulder runs into the box. Traits that Maurizio could make devastating use of when switching play to the weak side.  

The current picture remains incomplete. In what may already feel like a long summer for many Juventini, it is only just getting started.  

Have your say...
LW.cr7/CF.higuian or Cf.icardi/RW.dybala

Keep sandro,cancelo and dybala sell higuian or super mario, lukaku is way useless sell khedira,d.costa,cuadrado trade bonucci for manolas or marquihos get de light
on the 6th July, 2019 at 4:05pm
You want a bet? ;-)
The problem will be on personal reasons.
on the 22nd June, 2019 at 8:01am
Meh. Speculating like this is a pointless exercise.
on the 22nd June, 2019 at 4:26am
Ancelotti is improvement over Sarri, Juve will struggle next season.
on the 21st June, 2019 at 8:41pm
Napoli, and in particular ADL are acting so desperate and jealous over Sarri going to Juve, it's all they seem to talk about. How about focusing on improving your own team rather than whining 24/7. Get over it jeeeeez
on the 21st June, 2019 at 3:49pm
As Napoli supporter I can't understand all of this peasant ADL comments, on Sarri and on everything. I believe Napoli might flourish under another owner.
on the 21st June, 2019 at 3:43pm
I think we all agree Juve should not sell Cancelo. Am also wondering why Conte wants Lukaku. Lukaku has absolutely no football know-how. What is happening with serie A transfers this window? I don't understand derstand.
on the 21st June, 2019 at 12:16pm
Replying to anonymous "I don't understand why Juve wants to sell Cancelo.... Sell talented but mentally weak Dybala for Icardi."

Dybala has good economic impact, Cancelo not so. Icardi, his off field antics is too negative for Juve. But maybe Juve has changed.
on the 20th June, 2019 at 2:26pm
My dream xi

sandro chiellini de ligt cancelo
Isco Rabiot
Cristiano Dybala Chiesa
on the 19th June, 2019 at 10:52pm
Why sell Mandzukic? He might not be a starter going for Juve anymore but his work rate and attitude make his teammates better. He can also be a great sub and come off the bench as a direct replacement or for tactical purposes.
on the 19th June, 2019 at 3:19pm
Apart from all the off field issues, I just can't see how Icardi fits into a 4-3-3 including Ronaldo. Basically no pressing from the front with those two which seems to go against what Sarri would want to do.
I think for Juve to improve under Sarri there needs to be some additional pace at the back to play a higher line and some more technical players in midfield to keep possession. Otherwise it will be like Chelsea was this year a team ill equipped to play the style required.
on the 18th June, 2019 at 10:45pm
Don't sell Cancelo, he would do well in Sarri's "system"

Not a fan of the homewrecker Icardi either, let Inter keep him !!!!
on the 18th June, 2019 at 10:15pm
Juve should sell Khedira,Dybala, Douglas Costa, Cuadrado and Super Mario Mandzukic.
on the 18th June, 2019 at 9:06pm
I don't understand why Juve wants to sell Cancelo. I'd say he is the best attacking right back in Europe who has really improved defensively. Sell talented but mentally weak Dybala for Icardi. Get Zaniolo/Joao Felix and Ndombele and Reboot free.Ignore De Ligt and get Manolas b4 Napoli do. 4-3-1-2.Zaniolo in hole behind front 2 Icardi&CR7.
on the 18th June, 2019 at 9:01pm
Please stop with the Icardi talk!!!
It is making my brain hurt.
If there is a #1 objective this summer it is to keep Icardi, and his idiot wife, the HELL AWAY FROM JUVENTUS.

Should we start the petition now?
I am ready to start walking to Torino (from Canada) for the protest....
on the 18th June, 2019 at 4:37pm
No ICARDI or POGBA ..... PLEASE .....
on the 18th June, 2019 at 4:16pm
Buy: De Ligt, Emerson Palmieri, Rabiot, Zaniolo, Chiesa = 250m
Sell: Alex Sandro, Khedira, Douglas Costa, Mandzukic = 125m

Cancelo/De Sciglio, De Ligt/Bonucci, Chiellini/Rugani, Emerson Palmieri/Spinazzola
Bentancur/Ramsey, Pjanic/Can, Rabiot/Matuidi
Chiesa/Zaniolo/Cuadrado, Ronaldo/Kean, Bernardeschi/Dybala
on the 18th June, 2019 at 4:15pm
Defensively I've already mentioned how I would keep Cancelo but if he is to leave then I'm not convinced at all by Trippier or Hysaj who I don't think are of Juve standard and don't offer much going forward. A top class new CB is needed, Marquinhos would be a good addition but obviously De Ligt is the dream. I was all for selling Sandro but under Sarri I feel he will come good again and most of the top LB's in world football atm are tied up so replacing him wouldn't be easy.

Work to be done
on the 18th June, 2019 at 2:55pm
In attack Mandzukic should be sold on, and personally I would sell Higuain to get a decent fee and his wages off the books but Sarri does love him so not sure that will happen. A front line of Ronaldo, Dybala & Bernadeschi is technically good but it lacks real pace and thrust so I would keep D.Costa and hope he can stay fit unless a big offer comes in for him in which case try and get Chiesa. Kean should be given more minutes this season
on the 18th June, 2019 at 2:52pm
Rabiot on a free is a great addition, he adds physicality and quality on the ball. However it does mean that Juve are over loaded in CM with a lot of good but not world class CM's. Khedira can go and I feel that possibly Can/Matuidi should leave to make space for a top class CM addition like Savic/Ndombele.

CM options of Pjanic, Ramsey, Bentancur, Ndombele, Rabiot and one of Can or Matuidi would show real strength and depth.
on the 18th June, 2019 at 2:48pm

I agree with some of the comments here, Juve seem to be linked with some strange moves. Bringing Pogba back is like going back to an ex, he was great, but Juve should move on. Ndombele for half the price of Pog is a much better choice.

I really don't understand the Icardi link, especially as Higuain will be back from loan and can do the same job.

As for Cancelo I have no idea why they are selling him! You won't find a better offensive RB that's available so why bother selling.
on the 18th June, 2019 at 2:43pm
Cancelo can't defend but it'll be hard to find a top RB to replace him. If Trippier is the best they can do, then keep Cancelo

Juve should be all over De Ligt. No excuse not going for him if they are planning to spend big on Pogba who has turned into a waster. If Rabiot arrives then Pogba isn't needed

A ball-playing midfielder like Isco might work

Sandro/Costa could be sacrificed for funds

Icardi's a great finisher but there are big question marks about him now, and even more about his wife
on the 18th June, 2019 at 1:51pm
Dybala/Costa - - Bernardeschi/Cuadrado

Pjanic/Matuidi/Khedira - Rabiot/Bentancur

Spinazzola/Sandro - Bonucci/Caceres - Chiellini/Rugani - Cancelo/De Sciglio
on the 18th June, 2019 at 1:29pm
It sounds as though Rabiot will be joining on a free. If that is the case, there is no point in signing Pogba, especially for the crazy figures that are being banded about. Juve would overloaded in CM. Icardi would also be a strange signing when you already have CR7, Kean, Dybala who can all do a job down the middle.
on the 18th June, 2019 at 1:21pm
ou please, dispose alex sandro de sciglio khedira douglas costa.
make juventus filled with italian player
on the 18th June, 2019 at 1:09pm
In case of adapting 4-3-3 system with false 9, Dybala will be most likely to figure as false 9 exactly like Mertens in Napoli. But if Icardi arrives it means that Dybala departure is mostly certain.
on the 18th June, 2019 at 12:29pm
Sandro, De Ligt (Manolas/Marquinhos), Chiellini or Bonucci, Cancelo (Don't sell)
Ramsey, Pjanic, Ndombele/Savic/Poga in metioned wishful order
Two of Bernadeschi, Costa or Dybala supporting Ronaldo (Kean now and then)
on the 18th June, 2019 at 10:53am
Icardi - overrated and temperamental, Kean is a much better fit, young, hungry and Italian - if he was French / Brazilian we'd be dreaming of signing him.

Trippier isn't good enough for Juve.

We need a top CB to start alongside Chellini - Bonucci should rotate when Chellini needs to rest. We also need another top CM. And a winger - Chiesa would be ideal as as starter. And Emerson should replace Sandro.

Definitely sell Costa (injury prone), Mandzukic, Sandro, Cancelo.

Juve need signings...
on the 18th June, 2019 at 10:31am
go dybala!!
on the 18th June, 2019 at 10:20am
on the 18th June, 2019 at 10:19am

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