There was a certain inevitability about Maurizio Sarri’s fate once Juventus were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Lyon.
Sure, the swiftness of Juve’s decision caught some off guard but not even winning the Serie A title is enough to assuage the Bianconeri board nowadays.
Juventus Football Club (from Latin: iuventūs, “youth”; Italian pronunciation: [juˈvɛntus]), colloquially known as Juventus and Juve (pronounced [ˈjuːve]), is a professional football club based in Turin, Piedmont, Italy, that competes in the Serie A, the top flight of Italian football. Nicknamed I Bianconeri (The Black and Whites) or La Vecchia Signora (The Old Lady), the club was founded in 1897 by a group of students from Turin. They have played home matches in grounds around its city, the latest being the 41,507-capacity Juventus Stadium since 2011.
Juventus has won 36 official league titles, 13 Coppa Italia titles, and eight Supercoppa Italiana titles, being the record holder for all these competitions; two Intercontinental Cups, two European Cups / UEFA Champions Leagues, one European Cup Winners’ Cup, a joint national record of three UEFA Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and a joint national record of one UEFA Intertoto Cup. Consequently, the side leads the historical Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) ranking, whilst on the international stage occupies the 5th position in Europe and the eleventh in the world for most confederation titles won with eleven trophies, having led the UEFA ranking during seven seasons since its inception in 1979, the most for an Italian team and joint second overall.
Founded with the name of Sport-Club Juventus, initially as an athletics club, it is the second oldest of its kind still active in the country after Genoa’s football section (1893) and has competed uninterruptedly in the top flight league (reformulated as Serie A from 1929) since its debut in 1900 after changing its name to Foot-Ball Club Juventus, with the exception of the 2006–07 season, being managed by the industrial Agnelli family almost continuously since 1923. The relationship between the club and that dynasty is the oldest and longest in national sports, making Juventus one of the first professional sporting clubs ante litteram in the country, having established itself as a major force in the national stage since the 1930s and at confederation level since the mid-1970s and becoming one of the first ten wealthiest in world football in terms of value, revenue and profit since the mid-1990s, being listed on the Borsa italiana since 2001.Under the management of Giovanni Trapattoni, the club won 13 trophies in the ten years before 1986, including six league titles and five international titles, and became the first to win all three seasonal competitions organised by the Union of European Football Associations: the 1976–77 UEFA Cup (first Southern European side to do so), the 1983–84 Cup Winners’ Cup and the 1984–85 European Cup. With successive triumphs in the 1984 European Super Cup and 1985 Intercontinental Cup, it became the first and thus far only in the world to complete a clean sweep of all confederation trophies; an achievement that they revalidated with the title won in the 1999 UEFA Intertoto Cup after another successful era led by Marcello Lippi, becoming in addition the only professional Italian club to have won every ongoing honour available to the first team and organised by a national or international football association. In December 2000, Juventus was ranked seventh in the FIFA’s historic ranking of the best clubs in the world and nine years later was ranked second best club in Europe during the 20th Century based on a statistical study series by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), the highest for an Italian club in both.The club’s fan base is the largest at national level and one of the largest worldwide. Unlike most European sporting supporters’ groups, which are often concentrated around their own club’s city of origin, it is widespread throughout the whole country and the Italian diaspora, making Juventus a symbol of anticampanilismo (“anti-parochialism”) and italianità (“Italianness”). Juventus players have won eight Ballon d’Or awards, four of these in consecutive years (1982–1985, an overall record), among these the first player representing Serie A, Omar Sívori, as well as Michel Platini and three of the five recipients with Italian nationality as the former member of the youth sector Paolo Rossi; they have also won four FIFA World Player of the Year awards, with winners as Roberto Baggio and Zinedine Zidane, a national record and third and joint second highest overall, respectively, in the cited prizes. Additionally, players representing the club have won 11 Serie A Footballer of the Year awards including the only goalkeeper to win it, Gianluigi Buffon, and 17 players were inducted in the Serie A Team of the Year, being both also a record. Finally, the club has also provided the most players to the Italy national team—mostly in official competitions in almost uninterrupted way since 1924—who often formed the group that led the Azzurri squad to international success, most importantly in the 1934, 1982 and 2006 FIFA World Cups.
Juventus sack Sarri: How the numbers compare to Allegri's 2018-19 …
After nine straight Serie A titles that should not really be a surprise, and most observers would acknowledge Juve’s success this season had as much to do with their rivals’ failures as it did their own merits.
But how do the numbers back up such an assertion? Well, using Opta data we compared Juve’s solitary Serie A season under Sarri to their final campaign under Massimiliano Allegri in 2018-19 to try and shed some light.
Juventus sack Sarri: How the numbers compare to Allegri's 2018-19 …
IMPROVEMENTS IN ATTACK?
As you would perhaps expect to see, Juve’s stats suggest they were a little more inclined to go for the jugular under Sarri.
Indeed, the 76 goals, 501 shots and 243 shots on target are all higher than last season, when they registered 70, 451 and 201 in the respective areas.
But the numbers also hint at Juve not being quite as clinical as they could have been. In 2018-19, Juve converted 43 big chances and missed 42 for a big-chance conversion rate 50.59 per cent.
Looking at the same metrics under Sarri, Juve again scored 43 of their big chances but missed a disappointing 52, bringing their rate down to 45.26 per cent.
Indeed, their shot-conversion rate also dipped, albeit the drop was less noticeable, falling from 15.52 to 15.17 per cent.
One area where Juve did improve is one that would make sense given Sarri’s style. The Bianconeri scored six goals from fast breaks and had 31 fast breaks in total, compared to three and 16 the season before.
PASSING THE SARRI TEST?
Sarri was employed in part to bring an attractive style of football to match a winning team at Juve. Of course, a simple eye test may suggest he was not exactly successful at doing so.
But the stats do suggest Sarri was at least making progress with this end game.
Juve created more chances and big chances (503 and 66 compared to 476 and 60), while there were 47 assists in total, slightly up from 44.
Their passing stats improved as well. A passing accuracy of 87.97 is better than the 86.24 of last term, while the same metric in their own and the opposition half was higher (92.04 and 85.13 per cent against 91.44 and 86.24). This was despite attempting more passes this season (21,727 to 20,092).
Overall, Juve also spent more time in possession of the ball, rising from 56.22 to 58.31 per cent.
NOT MUCH CASE FOR THE DEFENCE
Unfortunately, while Sarri could feasibly argue Juve had made progress going forward, the case for the defence is not nearly as strong.
Juve conceded 43 goals this term, a pretty big increase from the 30 in the last term under Allegri, while they also kept four fewer clean sheets (12 as opposed to 16).
Duel success was down only a smidgen from 53 to 52.53, while there was a bigger plunge in tackle success – that figure going from 62.11 to 59.
Additionally, there were fewer recoveries (2163 down to 2030), aerial successes (557 down to 448), blocks (128 down to 117) and possession wins (1,945 down to 1,811).
Juventus did not make as many errors leading to shots (14 down from 16) but did make six errors leading to goals, two more than the four in 2018-19.
This defensive dip can be perhaps partly explained by the longer spells of possession but it still does not reflect particularly well for Sarri.
BETTER THAN CHELSEA, WORSE THAN NAPOLI?
Sarri’s Napoli side were revered across the continent but the same cannot be truly said of his teams at Chelsea or Juve, albeit the latter two ventures only lasted one season each.
At Napoli, Sarri oversaw 98 wins in 148 games across all competitions, giving him a win percentage of 66.2 with the Partenopei.
With Chelsea, where Sarri won a first major honour in the 2018-19 Europa League, he celebrated 39 wins in 63 games as his win percentage dropped to 61.9.
It climbed back up to 65.4 with Juve, where Sarri was a victor 34 times in 52 matches – but ultimately it was enough to convince the Bianconeri’s hierarchy.