This has been a funny season for Juventus.
They won yet another Serie A title which, on paper, would have you thinking it was a good year – but the 2019/20 campaign was anything but a success for Juventus, who crashed out of the Champions League despite a 2-1 win over Lyon on Friday night.
Questions have been asked of manager Maurizio Sarri and his tactics since he arrived. His Sarri-ball system took Italy by storm with Napoli, but failed to have the same impact at Chelsea, leading to an implicit assumption that it would only work in Italy.
It hasn’t worked this time around. It really hasn’t worked, and now Juventus must make a decision over whether Sarri stays or goes.
The elimination at the hands of Lyon was the same old story for Juventus. I Bianconeri enjoyed a lot of possession but just didn’t do anything. The passing was just so slow and lethargic, and the only time Juve looked like threatening was when Cristiano Ronaldo or Federico Bernardeschi brought out something individually brilliant.
The first goal shouldn’t have come about, as Memphis Depay was punished for being unable to detach his arms, and the second was a wonderful long-range strike from Ronaldo. There was very little team skill or tactic to either.
That has been the criticism of Sarri. One year and one Serie A title later, fans still can’t figure out what he actually brings to the club. Juventus’ positive moments don’t come from his tactics, but rather the sheer brilliance of the individual parts of the team.
Their superiority over the majority of Serie A helped mask over their frailties. Juventus might not have deserved all their victories, but they were just too good to lose. However, that’s not how things work in the Champions League. If you can’t hang, you’ll usually know about it.
Juventus are supposed to be better than Lyon, who won’t even be in the Champions League next year unless they win the whole thing, yet the French side rarely looked genuinely threatened. Lyon set up resolutely and allowed Juve all the possession they wanted, safe if the knowledge that they probably wouldn’t do much. And they didn’t.
It means Sarri’s tumultuous debut season has come to a nightmare end. Juventus failed to win the Coppa Italia, they only won the Serie A title by a comparatively pathetic one point, and now there’s no Champions League glory either.
The league title victory alone is just not good enough from a Juventus coach at this point, at a club who are shelling out the best part of twice as much as their rivals on wages. The club will know it, the fans will know it and Sarri will know it. Sacking your boss after he leads you to a title seems a bit rash on paper, but it’s all about how you win at Juventus, and Sarri hasn’t got the job done in that regard.
How do Juventus proceed from here? Sarri will already be looking for the answer to that question, but Juve chiefs may not be prepared to listen to him anymore.