Juventus were not meant to just win Serie A last season; they were supposed to do so in style. That’s why they hired Maurizio Sarri last summer who was meant to come in and give the Old Lady a welcome makeover. When that didn’t happen, it was always going to be difficult for Sarri to remain in his post without a Champions League win. That didn’t happen either…
So, enter Andrea Pirlo. Juventus hope that Turin’s golden boy will be the perfect face of a new stylish brand. But what challenges will he need to tackle to improve this side from the one he inherited?
An Aging Squad
One thing that Andrea Pirlo will have to overcome is that Juventus have one of the oldest squads in Italy. Last season, only Parma fielded a side with a higher average age. It is clear that the Bianconeri need to recruit younger talent to keep this squad youthful and hungry.
Average Age Of Serie A Sides - 2019/20
This trend is not new, either. In each of the last five seasons, Juventus’ squad has had an average age over 28. Juve are aware of their issues, of course. Arthur Melo and Dejan Kulusevski have already been signed for next season with a view to adding more control and goals, as well as a much needed youthful boost. How Pirlo manages the twilight years of some of the clubs most famous ever players will be crucial if he is to build his dynasty in Turin.
Defence In Decline
The Bianconeri struggled at the back last season, which is rather uncharacteristic for a Juventus side. They conceded 43 goals in Serie A only one team has won the Scudetto by conceding more goals in a single season (Juventus in 1957/58 (44)).
Scudetto Winners Who Conceded 40+ Goals
Prior to the 2019/20 campaign, the last time Juventus conceded more than 30 goals was back in 2010/11 when the Bianconeri finished seventh. Last season was also Juventus’ worst goal difference since the turn of the decade.
Juventus Defensive Record Last Ten Seasons
|Season||Goals Scored||Goals Conceded||Goal Difference||Expected Goals Against||Shots Against|
Consistency at the back was lacking for Juve with only Leonardo Bonucci making 30 or more appearances. Every other side in Serie A, with the exception of Sassuolo, had multiple defenders who made 30 or more appearances.
An Overreliance on Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals have been a lifeline for Juventus. He was the third player in Juventus history to score at least 30 goals in a single Serie A season, after Felice Borel (1933/34) and John Hansen (1951/52), and for the eighth time, Ronaldo scored at least 30 goals in a single season. From 2007/08, no player has achieved that more frequently.
The Portuguese icon has reached 50 goals in Serie A in just 61 appearances, making him the quickest to that tally in the three-points-for-a-win era, breaking Andriy Shevchenko’s record (50 goals in 68 matches). He is also the first player in history to score at least 50 goals in Serie A, LaLiga and the Premier League.
While it is worth pointing out that these numbers are significantly boosted by 12 penalties, Juventus are still hugely reliant on Ronaldo’s goalscoring and attacking output. The striker alone accounted for 31% of all of Juve’s shots last season.
It will be crucial for Pirlo to work out a way to ensure he gets every last ounce of talent out of his talisman while ensuring the burden of offensive output is more evenly distributed across the squad.
Unfortunately for Sarri, winning the Scudetto was the very least he had to do to save his job, but he failed at the primary target of clinching the Champions League. The challenge will be the same for Pirlo, and while he may be afforded slightly more leniency time due to his close affinity with the club, nothing will be good enough unless Champions League glory is returned to Turin.
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