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January 14, 2020

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Old habits die hard for Juventus

Maurizio Sarri, brought in as Juventus coach to impose his distinctive style of football, was left frustrated when it reverted to the more cautious approach of predecessor Massimiliano Allegri during its match at AS Roma.

Sarri, whose side raced to a 2-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes, was happy with Juventus’ performance for the first hour of the 2-1 win which put it back on top of Serie A as the season reached the halfway mark.

However, the team spent much of the final 30 minutes keeping possession in its own half and avoiding risks — something Allegri would habitually describe as “administering the match” and which became a hallmark of his five years in charge.

“I didn’t like the way we sat back on the result,” said Sarri, who took over this season. “We had several three-on-one counterattacks and we could have done more. I’d like to see us play the whole 90 minutes like we played the first 60.

“If we are going to just pass the ball around, then at least we should do it in the opposition’s half of the field.”

Juventus, chasing a ninth successive league title, has traditionally been a team which wins without worrying about how it does it.

Allegri seemed to fit the bill perfectly and his teams were pragmatic, versatile and resilient and intent on getting the job done quickly.

But, after a relentless five years of Allegri, Juventus decided it needed more flamboyance and turned to Sarri who likes his teams to weave intricate, passing patterns at high speed through opposing defenses.

Juventus has an impressive 48 points from 19 games — 15 wins, three draws and a defeat — and a two-point lead over Inter Milan but its style of play has suggested it has changed Sarri rather than vice-versa.

“I don’t know if Juventus has changed me, my wife tells me I’m just as obstinate as before,” said Sarri, who previously turned Napoli into Serie A’s most entertaining team.

“With Napoli, we twice led the championship at the halfway mark but it didn’t work out well,” he recalled.

“Do I feel totally Sarri in this Juventus? Look, there are some Juventus numbers that have changed so much since last year that I can say yes,” he added.


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