Sunday October 18 2020
Pirlo's project needs time

As Andrea Pirlo prepares for his coaching debut in the Champions League, another stalemate against newly promoted Crotone in Serie A makes Elio Salerno suggest he still needs time to develop his project at the Old Lady.

Prior to Saturday evenings game in Calabria, a Juventus victory was widely anticipated. However, come the end of 90 minutes, the Bianconeri will perhaps feel somewhat relieved to leave with a point given how the game unfolded.

A lacklustre performance from Andrea Pirlo’s men was compounded by some questionable officiating and an offside VAR decision that again left you questioning how the technology is being implemented.  Those decisions aside, the main focus remains on Juve’s display and how the team are progressing under their novice tactician.

On reflection, Pirlo will perhaps feel he contributed to his side’s troubles. His starting XI contained four summer signings and two players from the u23’s, the team was unrecognisable so a lack of cohesion was certainly expected but did he have many alternate options? Aaron Ramsey was out of action, Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi had only returned from injury in the week, while Weston Mckennie and Cristiano Ronaldo are isolating as a result of contracting COVID19 and Alex Sandro remains on the treatment table.

Add to the mix that a number of the other players available would have only returned late in the week after completing an intense two weeks with their respective national teams. Then all of a sudden, a trip to Crotone was made increasingly difficult. The fact remains that The Old Lady had more than enough quality available to dispatch of Giovanni’s Stroppa’s side, but a mistimed Leonardo Bonucci tackle gave the hosts the early boost they needed and before the visitors could settle, they were already chasing an equaliser.

Juventus are still finding their feet under Mister Pirlo, these types of results are likely to be a common occurrence this campaign. The former Italian midfield player is trying to implement a completely new style of play whilst having little to no time training time to work on the tactical details. Pirlo is effectively having to use the real season as his pre-season. The unprecedented circumstances of 2020 meant less preparation time and as a further consequence there is an overly pact fixture schedule, resulting in less time on the pitches at Continassa.

Reduced training hours and having to use matches to find balance in your side is far from ideal, even more so for a first time coach like Pirlo. The subject of balance is key. There was an apparent lack of it against Roma and although the line-up against Crotone appeared better equipped it wasn’t a problem that was likely to disappear in the space of a couple of weeks.

We have already seen the ideas behind Il Maestro’s vision for this Juve. A hybrid system depending on the phase of the game with a commitment to collective football, purposeful play and an attempt to control their opponents. Until these ideas come to fruition there will be holes in Juve’s game, specifically in transition where they have shown a real vulnerability to the counter.

 The right side defensive partnership between Danilo and Leonardo Bonnuci is a concern. Pirlo has a very specific role in mind for the Brazilian. At times as a third centre back or as a more orthodox right back but also stepping into midfield to create an additional centre. If Danilo’s movements are timed incorrectly it leaves Bonucci exposed, Leo then becomes a target for the opposition. Crotone made the most of the open space down their left, with debutant Federico Chiesa positioned high and being supported by Danilo one pass behind the Juventus pair left the experienced Bonucci in situations he is far from comfortable defending.

The Bianconeri conceded more space on the Stadio Ezio Scida pitch that Pirlo would like, the gaps between Juve’s defensive lines were not tight enough allowing dangerous forward passes into attacking areas. If they are to commit to pressing, then they must push higher up the pitch.

Of course, a second consecutive away game playing a period of time with 10 men is detrimental but Pirlo’s players again showed bravery in risking the result. Not content with a draw they pushed for three points – as they did in Rome – and they were literally centimetres away from making it happen.

Dejan Kulusevki again played a key role and was behind all of Juve’s best attacks in the first hour of the match. The Swede fits perfectly with Pirlo’s ideas, accompanied by the likes of Alvaro Morata, Federico Chiesa – who made a promising start - and of course Ronaldo, they offer Juve the attacking verticality Pirlo desires. The midfield combination of Arthur and Rodrigo Bentancur showed glimpses of the technical quality that pairing will bring, even if the Brazilian does need to play forward quicker. All of this and a certain number 10 has yet to feature.

At this point it is easy to question Pirlo, but he should be commended for his approach and reasonable start. He has ambitious plans for how he wants Juventus to play and he is not hiding away from them. Pirlo is placing faith in young players and committing to attacking football, the Turin giants are on an interesting journey under their former player and the fans should enjoy the ride. Another opportunity soon approaches with attention quickly turning to the Champions League and a visit to Kiev on Tuesday.

Have your say...
Juve just win with style and hater is allowed to go back to its cave.
on the 21st October, 2020 at 8:02am
Pirlo's system seems strange but we're only 4 games in and none of the teams had a proper pre-season, not to mention the disruption due to Covid cases. It's too early to judge any team or coach right now. Juventus are still favorites but I will say it's clear that the gap with the other teams has been narrowing the past couple of seasons.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 9:29am
Chiesa MIGHT turn out to be perfect for the RM role, he does have pace and energy and his crossing isn't bad. If he can improve defensively then playing a little bit deeper than RW means he won't have to worry so much about his poor finishing and decision making in the final 3rd. Until all the players are up to speed, and also just to have a plan B i'd like to see a 4-2-3-1 with Ronaldo, Dybala, Kulu/Chiesa behind Morata and then Arthur + Bentancur or the much improved Rabiot in the double pivot
on the 20th October, 2020 at 9:26am
Whilst I agree he needs plenty of time I am not overly convinced by this formation he wants to play. Actually let me rephrase that, the formation and idea in theory is a good one but he doesn't have the players to play it. The wide midfielders are arguably the most important players in this formation and it's probably the area where Juve are weakest. You need players with endless energy, pace and quality to get up and down all game. Players like Hakimi, Davies, Trent AA, Theo Hernandez etc.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 9:22am
really is his job under pressure already he was basically given allegri team and only allowed to sign one or two players he actually wanted.

i thought the point of hiring pirlo was as a stop gap anyway he steadies the ship as long as he has a reasonable champions league run and finishes in the top 4 it is going to plan.

Juve missed their two centre forwards anyway ronaldo with covid and dybala just recovering from a injury, bit harsh on pirlo to put under pressure for a draw.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 8:14am
Demiral, Bonucci, De Ligt
Bentancur, Arthur, Rabiot
Chiesa, Dybala, Kulesevski
CR7 (Morata)
on the 20th October, 2020 at 7:14am
I can see you now.. Ready to hit save.. A smirk on your face at your clever.. And oh so original post..sitting alone on your device... Checking back every 20 mins to see if the editor has posted your terribly witty comment..and then there it is... And you read it back amid the others of people discussing football and tactics and inside you think... Oh... Maybe i look a bit pathetic.. In black and white.. The smirk drains away.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 3:30am
Snore fest man.. Great joke.. Never heard that before you are very clever.. How long did you spend on it.. Maybe try discussing the article and make some comments about football instead of turning it into the usual nonsense... Maybe that is beyond you capabilities... I wish the blog would stop these waste of time comments...pino if you don't like juve don't read the don't suit you mateM
on the 20th October, 2020 at 3:14am
We believe in Pirlo! At Juventus we do not fire coaches after 4 games unlike Inter with Gasperini who got fired after 4 games when Inter lost 3-1 to Novara. We got a young team, Rookie coach and even we go a man down the opposition parks the bus to keep that 1 point because they know how explosive this team can be. Juve will learn tactics but no team has that winning mentality that Juve has - the aura of victory is all over Juventus and that you cannot teach !!
on the 19th October, 2020 at 8:58pm
Demiral, Bonucci, De Ligt
Bentancur, Arthur
Chiesa, Dybala, Kulesevski
CR7 (Morata)
on the 19th October, 2020 at 7:26pm

Juve are favourites yes, but the gap from previous seasons to other "top" teams and Juve is WAY more narrow now.

I would def not put any wager on Juve to win the league.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 4:57pm
You always count out the team that won 9 years in a roll with one of the all time goats, who drew 2 away games down a man. But that's just me.....
on the 19th October, 2020 at 4:55pm
"Pirlo's project needs time - for the bribes to get to the referees"

There, fixed the title of the article for you.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 3:33pm
Stop using Bonucci and Danilo on the back and everything will fall in place!
on the 19th October, 2020 at 3:12pm
In 2015-16 Juve was 7th after 12 rounds... so yeah sure, Pirlo is running out of time and will lose the league LOL. Juve has been winning for 9 years and for some reason on 10th everything will just fall apart? I don't think so. Oh other teams are stronger? Yes maybe, but we have been hearing that forever. Also Inter and Atalanta already conceded like 8-9 goals and now this season they have higher expectations in Europe!! Juve are the favorites hands down... no questions asked.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 2:54pm
Giving Pirlo the job was a huge gamble. The guy has never coached in his life. His assistant has more coaching experience than him. That says a lot!! Being a midfield maestro does not mean you can coach a team of the size of Juve. There are certain practicalities that come with coaching a team which you will only understand once you become a coach. He must be supported by the club and the fans if he is to succeed. He is the most inexperienced coach in charge of the most experienced team.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 2:45pm
Pirlo should definitely be given a lot more time to acclimatise to Serie A. Remember, most of the tacticians have been training their players/have become familiar with their strengths and weaknesses for at least 1+ seasons, so it's natural Pirlo will fall hard on his face and face hardships.

That being said, he also deserves a kick in his backside for wanting to continue with this nonsense 3-4-3 / 3-5-2 / 3-3-3-1. This obnoxious 3-at-the-back will never work against top teams.

on the 19th October, 2020 at 1:05pm
Well a little more time and they can kiss the Scudetto goodbye.

They have an easy CL group, if by January they can find themselves then maybe a CL run will be salvaged but Serie A title might be too far gone by then.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 1:00pm

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