The Old Lady is wobbling… Juventus have 11 points LESS than Maurizio Sarri had at this stage last season (and he got the SACK). Andrea Pirlo needs to change things quickly… and can’t just rely on Ronaldo to rescue him
- Juventus suffered a poor 3-0 Serie A defeat to lowly Fiorentina on Tuesday night
- Andrea Pirlo’s side are now eight points behind Serie A leaders AC Milan
- Juventus have drawn too many games with Pirlo tinkering with his line-up
- Sportsmail identifies where Pirlo has gone wrong in the league this season
A dismal 24 hour period has left Juventus in a nightmare before Christmas.
On Tuesday afternoon, the reigning Italian champions had three points taken away from them after sporting authorities scrapped the default 3-0 win over Napoli handed to them earlier this season and ordered the abandoned match to be replayed.
Later that evening, a 10-man Juventus side gave away more points and goals, a shocking 3-0 home defeat to lowly Fiorentina leaves them eight points behind leaders AC Milan, with Andrea Pirlo’s side now outsiders in their quest to regain their Serie A crown.
Juventus are eight points behind top-spot Serie A after a loss at home to Fiorentina on Tuesday
Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo has made several failings since the start of the Serie A season
The result was not surprising – Juventus’ recent displays show a performance like that has been coming for some time. Sportsmail looks at Pirlo’s failings so far this season after a poor start to the campaign…
So… how bad have Juventus been?
Pirlo’s appointment as Juventus head coach over the summer certainly raised some eyebrows. This is the legendary Italian midfielder’s first senior management role, with owner Andrea Agnelli thinking outside the box after the failed reign of Maurizio Sarri.
Yet Juventus are regressing under Pirlo this season – the Italian champions are 11 points worse off with their new coach compared to Sarri last season.
The former Chelsea manager was sacked earlier this year for a lack of on-pitch harmony after a poor Champions League exit to Lyon, so what do you call this?
Juventus sacked Maurizio Sarri this year for failing to deliver results and any squad harmony
Convincing Juventus displays have been sporadic this year – when you think they turn a corner they end up disappointing.
Crushing away victories such as the ones against Barcelona and Parma are swiftly followed by draws against the lowly Serie A sides such as Benevento, Hellas Verona and Crotone – even Sarri managed to pick up three points against these clubs.
Juventus are no longer Serie A’s big entertainers anymore. They may have the league’s top scorer and marquee man in Cristiano Ronaldo, but the two Milan clubs sitting at the top of the table are the free-flowing Italian sides so far this term.
Pirlo’s Juventus have now dropped points seven times in the league with inconsistent results
Pirlo’s side have even been outscored by European challengers Napoli and Roma, while surprise package Sassuolo have a more fluid and eye-catching front line consisting of Domenico Berardi, Franceso Caputo and Jeremie Boga.
The Juventus manager himself confessed on Tuesday night that his side are no longer Italy’s top dogs. ‘If Milan and Inter are ahead it means that they are better than us. If they are there it means that they are the favourites,’ said the Italian reluctantly.
Last season, Juventus nearly allowed Inter Milan and Atalanta a shot at the title they have dominated for so long. This year, the thought of losing grip on their regular crown is more likely to happen than not.
Lack of leadership and calm
You would think that the winners of the last nine Serie A titles would have calmer heads on their shoulders – but Juventus have been chaotic on the pitch this season.
The Old Lady are officially Europe’s dirtiest team with five sending offs in the league this season including four straight red cards – the latest coming in Tuesday night’s stunning loss to Fiorentina.
Juan Cuadrado’s needless lunge on Gaetano Castrovilli in the Fiorentina penalty area sums up Juventus’ season – Pirlo’s side are out of control and fail to keep a cool head when frustrated by their opposition.
Juan Cuadrado was sent off in the 3-0 Serie A defeat to Fiorentina on Tuesday night
Juventus are Europe’s dirtiest team with five dismissals and four straight reds so far this season
The winger’s red card after 18 minutes cost Juventus the result on Tuesday in the same way Adrien Rabiot and Federico Chiesa’s red cards saw them drop two points at Roma and Crotone earlier in the campaign.
After the Fiorentina defeat, Pirlo called for calm over Juventus’ recent form and you can see why. His side are throwing away games due to a lack of discipline which is putting themselves at a disadvantage during matches.
The Italian media noticed that only one player – Leonardo Bonucci – apologised for the Fiorentina loss after the match, implying that the Juventus players are refusing to take responsibility for Tuesday’s catastrophe.
‘Playstation Pirlo’ losing trust
While Pirlo can turn to the countless number of red cards as the reason why his side are not performing, the raw Italian head coach needs to take some of the blame.
The 41-year-old has been accused of changing his starting line-up too much which is leading to a lack of consistency and harmony on the pitch.
Pirlo often switches between a 3-4-1-2 and a 4-4-2 set-up with such ease that he resembles a frustrated child unhappy with the way his PlayStation is deciding his virtual matches.
Pirlo (above) has tinkered with his squad too many times since taking over during the summer
Players are regularly shoehorned into uncomfortable positions in order to suit Pirlo’s tinkering. Full-back Alex Sandro often is deployed at centre-half in a back three, his positional discomfort was epitomised by his slack own goal against Fiorentina, while winger Chiesa is unconvincing in a wing-back role.
It’s not just the formation Pirlo tinkers with, it’s the personnel too.
The Italian promised the promotion of youth at the start of the season, including the likes of Gianluca Frabotta and Dejan Kulusevski in the Juventus starting line-up. Now the pair are barely seen in the Old Lady starting eleven, with Pirlo relying on experience in these times.
The likes of Weston McKennie and Adrien Rabiot are both thrust in and out the team with Pirlo barely giving them a chance to generate any type of form, while the Italian coach still can’t find a regular place in his side for last year’s Serie A MVP Paulo Dybala.
Pirlo shoehorns players – such as Alex Sandro (second right) – into uncomfortable positions
Ronaldo is not a focal point
Another tactical failing by Pirlo is his use of Ronaldo, despite the Portuguese forward topping the Serie A scoring charts.
The 35-year-old is often used in a central striking position, rather than his more natural left-wing role, with the Old Lady side over-reliant on the iconic Portuguese attacker in games.
Juventus’ record is simple, if Ronaldo does not score – they don’t win. In the Old Lady’s six league wins this season, their number seven has been on the scoresheet for five of them – the other was a fortunate last-gasp derby win over Torino.
Juventus are too reliant on the goalscoring prowess of top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo (above)
When Ronaldo fails to find the net, Juventus rarely win and that must change for Pirlo’s side
Meanwhile, five matches where Juventus have dropped points this season have seen Ronaldo fail to find the net. His fellow Juventus attackers are doing little to help him out.
Alvaro Morata’s domestic record is fine but the Spaniard saves his best displays for the Champions League, while Dybala’s lack of appearances means he contributes little to share Ronaldo’s load, as does the exciting Kulusevski who is often shoehorned into a wing-back role.
Summer activity not paying off
Looking at their 2020 calendar year, Juventus are in need of a rebuild.
But what won’t help is a summer transfer window that has failed to deliver they key additions the Old Lady needed this year.
The club’s most expensive buy in recent years, former Barcelona midfielder Arthur Melo, has done little to justify the £65million fee Juventus paid for him.
Arthur Melo has played a supporting role at Juventus after his £65m move from Barcelona
The Brazilian has been left out of the starting line-up for the club’s last five league games, even the injury-prone Aaron Ramsey has been give more game time in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Juventus would have been expecting more from the return of Morata, who has four goals in ten Serie A appearances so far this season.
The 28-year-old may have been Juventus’ back-up transfer target up front after the Luis Suarez passport debacle but Morata needs to step up and provide the support Gonzalo Higuain gave to Ronaldo when the Argentinian was at the club last season.
The blame for the poor recruitment over the summer falls at the feet of directors Pavel Nedved and Fabio Paratici, who have often been frustrated figures this season.
Alvaro Morata (above) is not supporting Ronaldo’s goalscoring exploits with his own goals
Fabio Paratici (left) and Pavel Nedved’s (right) signings have failed to impress so far this season
The pair were suspended for abusing the referee during the unconvincing win over Torino earlier this month, while Nedved came down to the touchline to roar at the official during the Fiorentina defeat.
As Juventus head off on their winter break, Pirlo has plenty to do to fix the current issues within his club.
The Italian needs to work quickly as a heavyweight clash with AC Milan greets them at the beginning of January.
Juventus can’t fall further behind, can they?
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article