Andrea Pirlo explained his surprise picks and tactics for the Juventus debut against Sampdoria. ‘It’s about finding the right balance, but we want to use as much talent as possible.’
It was not a bad way to start his first ever game as a coach, just days after getting his badges, fielding a fluid formation with players switching roles, and a 3-0 victory over Samp.
Dejan Kulusevski’s snooker shot opened the scoring, with Leonardo Bonucci and Cristiano Ronaldo rounding out the result in the second half.
“It’s important to dialogue with players, as I was a player until a few years ago and I always liked to discuss with them. It’s important everyone knows what they want and think,” Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia.
Pirlo certainly pulled some surprises with his first game, starting 21-year-old Gianluca Frabotta with only his second Serie A appearance, Weston McKennie in midfield and Aaron Ramsey given more freedom to roam.
“It was a good first half, a pity we didn’t score more than one goal. Our fitness levels dropped towards the end, but we stayed sharp and controlled all the situations, including the Sampdoria counter-attacks.
“Frabotta had a good game. Alex Sandro picked up an injury, so I chose the Under-23 lad who is training with us very well. I didn’t consider it a risk at all to use him.
“The American arrived having started pre-season training in Germany, so was in better shape than some others. He made a few errors in his passing, but it was the first game, we can forgive him for that.
“It will take time to get all the various ways of playing together. I don’t want to just copy and paste anyone’s ideas, I have my own ideas, and want to adapt from the teams that inspired me.
“We haven’t had much time, as the pre-season started late and then they were away for international duty. We had only one friendly too, but it was a good debut and we’ll keep working on it.”
The defence also started with three, moving to four when under attack, even though the Juve official graphics had it as a 5-4-1.
“We have four central midfielders who in my view play better in a two-man midfield. We are therefore trying to use that system, defending with four defenders, then in attack we’re more of a three plus two.”
Ronaldo is famously not a fan of being rested, so has Pirlo considered a Plan B for the Portuguese veteran?
“We are thinking about it and talked it over. He’s not tired yet, as we just started, but when we come up to less important games, we’ll try to give him a rest. He’s a very intelligent lad who knows his body very well, so he is aware of when it’s time to rest or to step it up.”
Juve are actively seeking a centre-forward and have Paulo Dybala currently injured, so how will Pirlo get all these stars working together?
“We’ll give it our best. It’s about finding the right balance. Quality players are always welcome, as long as they have the characteristics to bring balance to the team, but we want to use as much talent as possible.”