Juventus begin their Serie A campaign this weekend under new coach Maurizio Sarri. The multiple Italian champions are gambling on the veteran delivering another Serie A title, but in a more attractive fashion.
The Turin giants start their quest for a ninth consecutive title in Parma on Saturday but could be without Sarri on the bench after the 60-year-old was diagnosed with pneumonia on Monday.
Sarri returns to Italy after one turbulent season in the English Premier League with Chelsea, having previously coached his hometown team of Napoli for three seasons.
Chain-smoking Sarri’s appointment, in place of the clean-cut Massimiliano Allegri — who had delivered the last five of their Serie A titles — is a break in tradition for Juventus.
Despite their success, Juventus have often been criticised for their boring, defensive style of play.
Club bosses want a more attractive, eye-catching style of football in an attempt to increase their fan base outside Italy.
Sarri’s only major title was the Europa League last season with Chelsea, but he promises to give serial Italian champions Juventus a more dynamic style of play.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, returning to Turin after a season at Paris Saint-Germain, thinks the change of direction can pay off.
“Those who follow the same path will always achieve the same results, so Juve are seeking the Champions League and wanted to try breaking away,” he said. “Sarri is not a revolution, nor a gamble. He simply represents an untested path, a whole other story.”
Among Juventus’s rivals this season will be Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli and Inter Milan, now coached by former Juventus boss Antonio Conte.
But Juventus have spent big, giving Sarri a stellar squad to target a 36th Scudetto and their first Champions League title since 1996.
For Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici all the pieces are in place for Sarri to deliver another style of football.
“We’re very happy with what has been done. We bought [Matthijs] de Ligt, who all the top teams wanted,” said Paratici. “Juve has very high-level players in all departments, a squad of absolute value.” — AFP