Saturday August 31 2019
Revolution or refinement?

Football Italia Chief Correspondent Richard Hall looks at the Juventus changes and wonders if they can overcome a polished Napoli tonight.

Often when one frequents a football match at the stadium, watches it on television, or even writes about it, the process is similar. Normally the research is done, the enthusiasm is plentiful and the conclusions of win, lose or draw are considered.

This game sees a Juventus team in the earliest throes of a revolution against a Napoli team who are now being refined like wine. This article could have been written 8-10 times and could bring up just as many conclusions, it is that hard to judge. Its outcome, and even more so what it means, is even harder to read.

Rinus Michels, Arrigo Sacchi, Pep Guardiola and Maurizio Sarri, this is the list of the most influential Coaches in recent history, according to the self-proclaiming Sacchi. For one, this seems absurd, the argument against is easy, trophies. Look at the 13 of Michels, the ridiculous success with Sacchi at Milan and well, Pep is just warming up.

Sacchi would tell you that it’s not about trophies, this list is about changing the face of football, but personally, that’s disagreeable. Strategists with style are only appealing if they bring results. Look at Arsene Wenger as a prime example, simply compare his first 10 years at Arsenal to his last 10.

The reason this is important in the context of Juventus and Napoli, is that this early season showdown could have crucial connotations when it comes to deciding the campaign. To answer the comments that will inevitably appear below this piece, yes, it’s the second game of the season, but the explanation is thus. Juventus are breaking the mould, that’s a fact. Gone is the classy, well drilled tactician that was Max Allegri. The man who simply knew how to win. He will go down in history as one of the greatest ‘Old Lady’ Coaches and the tag is well deserved.

Andrea Agnelli is no coward. He has broken with tradition in the hopes of making Juventus a superpower. He has displeased many traditionalists with the kit, the badge and the direction. However, if he can make it work with Sarri, the result could be mind-blowing, if it fails it could be a car crash. The measure of Agnelli will be, if he can stick by his beliefs if it starts to fail, and there is no bigger test arguably than Napoli tonight.

Sarri in truth has been ill and it has detracted from their progress. The first game against Parma was a Juventus of old that showed signs of expansive football. This was a very telling game, as it has the hallmarks of old Juve success. Remember when Allegri arrived in Turin? He kept Antonio Conte’s winning formula until they lost to Genoa, after this he introduced his Christmas tree formation, but he never abandoned his predecessors’ blueprint. Juventus just had two ways to win.

Can Sarri do the same? Arguably he could, as playing these first rounds of the campaign need some sort of stability. You can’t build Rome in a day, to cite an over-used quote, and Sarri will know that. Juventus have a fairly old team which makes it even more ambitious to teach old dogs new tricks, but if Sarri can keep the old style as an option, he may be able to integrate throughout the season.

Napoli on the other hand are an example of ‘Sarri-refined’. Carlo Ancelotti has looked at a team that has all the expansive football it could need, but hasn’t had the killer instinct or winning mentality. Ironically, they are trying to be ‘less Sarri’ and more Allegri, trying to add steel to their cavalier approach. They need to prove that they can go to Turin and deal Juventus a heavy blow, setting the standard for the season and more importantly, giving Juventus doubts.

Don’t forget about Inter as well, they will pay special interest in this game, as one of the main title rivals will drop points. There is a lot riding on this fixture, and whilst it is early, it will still do much to set the pace this campaign. Sacchi may argue that Sarri is a trailblazer and you cannot hate his brand of football, but Juventus would be wary of forgetting one thing. "Winning isn't important, it's the only thing that matters."

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit:

Have your say...
Hello Partenop00p, how you like them apples now? xD xD xD Orsato ensured you Southern trash would have earned at least a draw, but karma ensured that you would be sent back to the deserving hole you crawled out of. Know your place, and stay where you belong!!! #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuvePerSempre
on the 31st August, 2019 at 10:19pm
Napoli have beaten Juventus at least 3 times in past 4 seasons.
on the 31st August, 2019 at 3:57pm
Look, I would love if Juve get a victory tonight but as things are a tiny bit Chaotic at present in Turin, I would not be surprised if Juve suffer tonight. The thing is we just don't really know what state Juve are in at the moment. Sarri displayed a level of tactical flexibility & intelligence in the first game that I really did not expect (assuming he was the one who managed the 1st tie). What we do know is that for the return leg, Napoli better have a score board that can show double digits
on the 31st August, 2019 at 3:37pm
Sarri's approach to the game is anything but cavalier. All the movements are meticulously drilled into the players.
on the 31st August, 2019 at 2:56pm
I regret both Milik and Chiellini cannot play tonight against each other due to injuries.
While I'm Napoli fan, I hope Giorgio recovers well and quickly for the sake of Juve and Italy.
on the 31st August, 2019 at 11:41am
A chief correspondent should know not to pen editorials and talk about how a match on the 2nd day can have implications for the season.

The last 5+ years have provided us with the following evidence:

>Napoli do not have the tenacity or the class to beat Juventus, even if Juventus are not having a great season

>That Inter run out of steam or simply implode by Christmas break, and are miles behind front-runners by February

>Ancelotti is no longer a top coach

Enjoy Matchday 2. Ciao!
on the 31st August, 2019 at 10:55am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.