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Juventus’ Chase For The Perfect Ten

 

Juventus’ chase for their tenth straight scudetto begins this weekend. With nine Serie A titles in succession, Juve hold the record for the longest consecutive championship winning streak across all of Europe’s top five leagues. Despite this, the management have changed the head coach for the second straight season, replacing Maurizio Sarri with Andre Pirlo. Here, we analyse what challenges await Pirlo in his quest for the perfect ten.  

By: Antonio Bini

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

TeamAverage Age
Parma29Y 2D
Juventus28Y 339D
Lecce28Y 339D
Inter28Y 89D
Lazio28Y 66D
SPAL28Y 5D
Cagliari27Y 330D
Napoli27Y 192D
Atalanta27Y 165D
Torino27Y 124D

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

TeamSeasonGoals Conceded
Juventus2019/2043
Juventus1960/6142
Juventus1957/5844
Milan1956/5740
Juventus1949/5043

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

SeasonGoals ScoredGoals ConcededGoal DifferenceExpected Goals AgainstShots Against
2019/2076433346.2470
2018/1970304036.9446
2017/1886246228.7315
2016/1777275027.2352
2015/1675205523.4340
2014/1572244831.9402
2013/1480235729.0381
2012/1371244731.6382
2011/1268204827.4351
2010/1157471044.2490

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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