Juventus are "perfect" for Serie A but their surprise exit to Lyon highlighted their issues in the Champions League, according to Alessandro Del Piero.

The Italian champions recorded a 2-1 win in the last-16 second leg on Friday but were still knocked out of the tournament on away goals after conceding in Turin.

Memphis Depay converted a first-half penalty to double Lyon's advantage in the tie, the French side having triumphed 1-0 on home soil before the European season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to turn the game around on the night but despite the Portuguese's best efforts, Juve slipped out to raise questions over the future of their coach, Maurizio Sarri.

Club legend Del Piero praised Ronaldo for showing the way to play in such circumstances but is concerned over the way the team has performed in Europe. 

"At times we have criticised him, but against Lyon he [Ronaldo] gave a lesson, not only for the goal but for how he played the whole game," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"There is a problem for Juventus and that is to face the teams at European level. 

"The team is perfect in the Italian league but both the first leg and the return match against Lyon showed some difficulties."


Juve had been knocked out at the quarter-final stage in the previous two years, though defender Leonardo Bonucci said after this latest Champions League disappointment that the target this season was always to retain the Scudetto.

Yet Del Piero, who was part of the side that won Europe's premier club competition back in 1996, feels the Bianconeri should set their sights higher than just domestic success.

"If the goal is the Scudetto, then the season is fine but Juventus must have greater ambitions," the former Italy international said.

Sarri's position will come under heavy scrutiny despite winning the league, with one media report in Italy linking former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino with the job.

Juve president Andrea Agnelli made clear in the aftermath that one game will not be used to judge the entire 2019-20 season, though added there will be "cold and lucid analysis" done on what happened throughout the campaign, once the dust has settled.

Maurizio Sarri believes Juventus are "cursed" in the Champions League after their exit at the hands of Lyon on Friday.

Cristiano Ronaldo's brace helped Juve to a 2-1 win in Turin, but they fell in the last-16 tie on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

Memphis Depay had given Lyon the lead in the second leg before Ronaldo's double, with Juve's wait for a first Champions League title since 1996 to go on.

Sarri, who is under increasing pressure at the helm, said the Serie A champions were cursed in the competition.

"We are out of a competition where we won six out of eight games we played, we drew one and lost one. That means that in eight matches we got 19 points," he told a news conference.

"If there were a Champions League table we would be first or second. Instead, we are out. That's why I feel incredibly sad. It makes me understand that in this competition Juventus are cursed.

"If I weren't so bitter, I would get out of this match with a smile on my face, because I saw the lads in good shape again, they gave all they had, they fought until the end, they put their heart and soul into the match. I appreciated it."

Lyon and Juventus were both awarded controversial penalties during the second leg, with Depay and Ronaldo converting.

Sarri felt the spot-kick given to Lyon was "crazy" as he rued the first-leg away loss.

"We played a good match. In a match where we had to come from behind, we found ourselves one goal down because of a crazy penalty, because in my opinion it shouldn't even have arrived to the box because I think there was a clear enough foul on [Gonzalo] Higuain. And the penalty itself I think it is debatable," he said.

"The referee was clearly unfit for a situation like this, because for us to concede that goal was like to concede two goals. We were good because we stayed into the game and turned the match around, but we spent a lot of energy.

"We had two or three chances to score towards the end with headers from Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuain and I think [Leonardo] Bonucci, so I think we were close to the qualification.

"If we have to have a regret it has to be for our performance in the first half at Lyon. At these levels, it is something you pay for."

Juventus expect to have Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line again next season, but Maurizio Sarri's future is set to be assessed.

The Bianconeri won a ninth straight Serie A title but could not add a European crown as they exited the Champions League in the last 16 on Friday.

A 2-1 win over Lyon was not enough to advance, with the Ligue 1 team going through on away goals after their 1-0 home success in February.

Ronaldo's contributions could not be criticised, though, as the Champions League's record goalscorer scored twice in an attempted fightback.

Juve chairman Andrea Agnelli certainly had no issue with his number seven, telling Sky Italia: "I am convinced that Ronaldo will stay with us. Cristiano is a pillar of Juventus."

Sarri's status is a little less certain, however.

Despite the Scudetto win, Juve have flattered to deceive too often this season and Agnelli is now preparing to assess the campaign as a whole.

"We take a few days to reflect and make assessments in order to be able to restart with renewed enthusiasm next season," he said.

"You cannot focus only on the missed goal, but also on the one achieved. We won the Scudetto and that was one of the main objectives.

"It should not be that one game that leads to judgement but an analysis of what happened in a very tough season. Everything will be evaluated with the staff, with the coach, with the trainers.

"One has to focus on everything. The evaluations will affect everyone.

"Juventus have clear objectives and these must be honoured. We have the best player in the Champions League, as he demonstrated this evening.

"We must start again with renewed enthusiasm, without taking for granted what happens in Serie A."

Sarri was already confident the Lyon match would not decide his future, explaining so before the match and adding afterwards: "I don't think my words were hard to interpret.

"I don't think top-level executives make decisions based on one match. These questions seem offensive to the management. If I were the management, I would intervene when there are these questions.

"What do I expect from the future? I have a contract and I expect to fulfill the contract."

Indeed, Sarri had few regrets following Friday's game, feeling the tie was instead lost in Lyon.

"If I were not devastated, I would be happy with the game," he said. "We went out because of the first half in Lyon. This is a competition that takes no prisoners. One defeat and we are out."

Maurizio Sarri suggested he had little choice but to risk Paulo Dybala in Juventus' Champions League clash with Lyon despite the forward's thigh injury.

Dybala was a doubt for Friday's second leg after hobbling out of a 2-0 win over Sampdoria on July 26.

But the Argentina international was still named on the bench in Turin, with Juve needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.

The Bianconeri won 2-1 thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's double, yet went out on away goals, while Dybala was introduced but later had to be substituted himself after pulling up.

However, with Juan Cuadrado also struggling and unable to take up an attacking role as Danilo was introduced from the bench, Sarri felt he had to utilise Dybala.

"If I had come here [to speak to the media] without using Dybala, I would have been asked why I hadn't risked him," Sarri told reporters. "If not tonight, then when?

"It was a risk, but it was something we had to do because Cuadrado had some muscular problems and was alerting the bench that he was struggling. He had to go off."

Dybala and Cuadrado are not Juve's only injury concerns as the season ends, however, with Matthijs de Ligt now hoping to address a persistent shoulder complaint.

"I want to recover from the shoulder problem for next season," the centre-back told Mediaset.

Asked if he would have an operation, De Ligt added: "Yes, I think so."

Paulo Dybala remains an injury concern for Juventus' Champions League clash with Lyon, but Maurizio Sarri is buoyant about Cristiano Ronaldo's condition.

Argentina international Dybala went off in the first half of the Bianconeri's Scudetto-sealing 2-0 win over Sampdoria on July 26 with a thigh strain.

He missed the subsequent defeats to Cagliari and Roma to close out the Serie A campaign and appears to be doubtful to make his return in the second leg of the last-16 tie against Lyon in Turin on Friday.

Sarri would dearly love to call on Dybala given his side have a 1-0 deficit to turn around from the first leg back in February.

"It's still in the hands of the medics, although I saw he did something on the pitch in training," Sarri told reporters.

"We'll see what he can do tomorrow morning, then talk to him and the doctors about what he's able to do."

There is no doubting the fitness of Ronaldo, though.

The 35-year-old ended the 2019-20 Serie A campaign with 31 goals - a total only bettered by Lazio's Ciro Immobile - and has scored 10 in 13 appearances since Juve's season resumed in June.

Ronaldo was rested for the final league match against Roma at the weekend after a hectic schedule.

Sarri feels that has benefited the five-time Ballon d'Or winner and he has been encouraged by what he has seen from the Portuguese ahead of the crucial clash with Lyon.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is training well, I saw him score an absolutely stunning goal in training yesterday," said the Juve boss.

"He's had many games in a short period of time, so quite rightly had a couple of days to rest, then resumed training with intensity and vigour.

"I think he's approaching this appointment the right way."

Maurizio Sarri does not fear being axed by Juventus if they fail to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals.

The Bianconeri won a ninth successive Scudetto last month in Sarri's first campaign at the helm, though they somewhat limped over the line having won just two of their final eight matches of the season.

Domestic dominance is nothing new for Juve - who were also beaten in June's Coppa Italia final by Napoli - so Sarri's detractors may need to see his worth in Europe's premier club competition, which they have not won since 1996.

Sarri's side must overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit in their last-16 encounter with Lyon in Turin on Friday, though the Italian does not view it as a make-or-break contest with regards to his future amid suggestions the club have lined up possible replacements.

Asked whether he thought it could be his last game in charge, Sarri told reporters: "No, and I think this question is essentially calling our directors amateurish, which I don't think they are.

"They will have made their evaluation based on the entire season as a whole, so if they've already decided to get a new coach, tomorrow won't make any difference, nor will a victory.

"It's an important match but it's also important to win the Scudetto, and so we've had plenty of those already this season.

"It would be important to be part of Europe's elite by reaching the final eight tournament in Portugal, so we care about it, but that makes it an important match, not anything else."

Despite pipping impressive Inter, Atalanta and Lazio sides to the Scudetto, Sarri's tenure has still been questioned, as was the case at Chelsea, where he won the Europa League and sealed a top-four berth in the Premier League but left amid little fanfare a year ago.

Sarri feels it is wrong to dismiss his side's achievement in winning the league title just because it has become the norm recently.

"I don't read or listen to any of it," he added.

"We are very happy to have won perhaps the most difficult Serie A season in the history of the league due to the many issues that were around it.

"Juventus is a club accustomed to winning and therefore people can be a little blase about it, but that is absolutely wrong in my opinion because victory should always be treated as a wonderful and extraordinary event."

Will Manchester United sign Jadon Sancho or not?

That is the question dominating headlines as United reportedly negotiate with Borussia Dortmund.

This transfer saga is one to watch.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED READY TO END SANCHO PURSUIT

Manchester United are threatening to walk away from a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to reports in England.

Sancho has been tipped to swap Dortmund for United, with Bild claiming a lucrative five-year contract has been agreed as the Bundesliga outfit insist on a €120million (£108m) fee.

But Goal, Sky Sports and The Mirror say United are ready to pursue alternatives of Dortmund do not lower their demands.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian reports Leicester City are trying to sign Francisco Trincao from Barcelona. Leicester have proposed a two-season loan deal with an obligation to buy for £45m (€50m). Trincao is preparing to link up with Barca after the LaLiga giants signed the 20-year-old from Braga in January.

- Premier League champions Liverpool are eyeing a move for Norwich City left-back  Jamal Lewis, says The Mirror. Lewis impressed in 2019-20 as Norwich were relegated and Liverpool are looking to wrap up a £10m deal.

- Gianluca Di Marzio claims Tottenham right-back Serge Aurier is open to joining Serie A side Milan.

- According to Tuttomercatoweb, Juventus are lining up possible replacements for under-fire head coach Maurizio Sarri. Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi, Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini and Luciano Spalletti have all been linked.

-  Aston Villa are aiming to keep star captain and rumoured United target Jack Grealish by offering a new contract, reports The Sun.

- Linked with United , Everton and Napoli, France Bleu Nord claims Arsenal are leading the race for Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes.

- Is Federico Chiesa set for Old Trafford? La Nazione reports United have made a €55m (£49m) offer for the Fiorentina forward, who has also been linked to Inter, Juve and Chelsea .

- Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake is poised to complete his move to Manchester City. Fabrizio Romano reports there is a total agreement and a medical will take place in the next couple of days.

Maurizio Sarri believes "a little fear can do us good" after seeing Juventus prepare for their crucial Champions League tie against Lyon by losing 3-1 to Roma on the final weekend of the Serie A season.

Juve saw a 39-match unbeaten home league run dating back to April 2018 ended as Diego Perotti scored twice after setting up Nikola Kalinic to cancel out Gonzalo Higuain's opener at the Allianz Stadium.

The Bianconeri were crowned champions for the ninth straight season despite winning just two of their final eight league matches, with head coach Sarri conceding his team dropped mentally after beating Lazio on July 20.

Sarri acknowledges Juve face a tricky task against a Lyon side who won the first leg of their last-16 clash 1-0 before the coronavirus pandemic halted the tie, but feels their recent struggles may end up focusing minds.

"A little fear can do us good. After Lazio we felt the championship was won and we had a mental decline," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia. 

"Now we have to be good at having an opponent's consideration. We will start from 1-0 [down] and it will be very difficult in these conditions."

On Friday, Lyon played their first competitive fixture since March due to Ligue 1 opting not to complete the remainder of the campaign amid the health crisis.

It ended in disappointment as Paris Saint-Germain won a penalty shoot-out to win the last ever Coupe de la Ligue final but Sarri was impressed by Lyon's competitiveness.

"I was surprised that they are very well physically. It doesn't look like a team that hasn't played in a long time," he added.

"We have to be good at recharging ourselves mentally. The physical ones recover in two or three days. We have pulled the plug for a few days and from Monday we will have to be good at recovering."

Paulo Dybala was again absent for Juve against Roma as he contends with a thigh issue and Sarri says the Argentina forward will be monitored carefully in training.

"Paulo is doing quite well. Tomorrow we try to bring him to the field and see the reactions," he said. 

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri may choose to rest Cristiano Ronaldo for the final Serie A game of the season against Roma.

Juve have already secured the Scudetto, their ninth in a row, and are just a week away from the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Lyon, with a 1-0 deficit to overturn.

Ronaldo has not missed a game since the return of Italian football from the coronavirus-enforced break in June, the 35-year-old having taken his goal tally to 31 in the league to propel Juve to the title.

However, with Lazio striker Ciro Immobile four goals clear in the race to finish as top scorer, Sarri could give Ronaldo and others a well-deserved rest ahead of the Lyon clash.

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey may feature with a view to being fully fit to face the Ligue 1 side next week, although Paulo Dybala's recovery from a thigh problem is ongoing.

"We'll assess [who will play] today and tomorrow morning, depending on who needs to rest and who is fit to play," Sarri said on Friday.

"Between tomorrow and next Friday there will be a big difference in terms of mentality. We'll need to be good at recovering all energies possible.

"Tomorrow, whoever is fit will play and we'll try to make it a day of celebration. I can see two light-hearted teams tomorrow evening, with clear heads: a beautiful game can come out of it.

"Let's see how Cristiano feels for tomorrow, he's one of the players that played the most in the entire season. With regards to Aaron Ramsey, he might be back with the team today and there are good possibilities that he plays in the Champions League.

"Dybala is with the medical staff, everything is proceeding well, but I don't know when he'll be back with the group."

Maurizio Sarri claims he is pondering playing the Juventus Under-23 team against Roma this weekend because of the toll a hectic Serie A schedule has taken on his squad.

Juve were crowned Serie A champions for a ninth successive season when they beat Sampdoria 2-0 on Sunday, but a much-changed XI went down by the same scoreline at Cagliari on Wednesday.

Six days after the conclusion of their domestic season on Saturday, Sarri's men must try to overturn a 1-0 last-16 deficit against Lyon in the Champions League.

"The problem is that that we are the only team in Europe who will have to play five times in 12 days," head coach Sarri told DAZN, having seen Juventus win only two of their past seven top-flight matches.

"We'll see how we are tomorrow [Thursday] and whether we ought to field the Under-23 team in its entirety at the weekend, so that everyone can get a bit of rest.

"We had nine players left at home with injuries today, so obviously I've got some doubts ahead of Lyon. We’ll have to see who recovers."

One player not spared 90 minutes in Sardinia was Cristiano Ronaldo, who toiled in vain as he tried to close the four-goal gap Lazio's Ciro Immobile has opened up at the top of the Capocannoniere standings.

"Speaking to him yesterday [Tuesday], he was very motivated, wanted to play, was really enthusiastic and felt good," Sarri said of his 35-year-old top scorer.

"We made the decision together, he knows his body better than anyone."

First-half goals from Luca Gagliano and Giovanni Simeone gave Cagliari a deserved 2-0 victory over Serie A champions Juventus.

Juve wrapped up their ninth consecutive title with a 2-0 win over Sampdoria at the weekend, although patchy recent form means Maurizio Sarri's side have now won only two of their past seven matches.

A vibrant Cagliari were the beneficiaries on this occasion, with Gagliano giving them an early lead to set them on the way to a first July win at the ninth and final attempt.

It proved a frustrating night for Cristiano Ronaldo, while Simeone – the son of Atletico Madrid boss Diego – came up with a superb finish worthy of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner in first-half stoppage time.

Gianluigi Buffon was back in the Juventus starting line-up and picking the ball out of his net in the eighth minute, when Federico Mattiello drove Paolo Farago's right-wing cross back across goal for Gagliano to finish from close range.

Ronaldo – engaged in what appears to be an increasingly futile pursuit of Ciro Immobile in the Capocannoniere stakes – touched in Federico Bernardeschi's stabbed throughball from an offside position and racked up four blocked attempts by the interval.

Gonzalo Higuain volleyed over from Bernardeschi's 38th-minute corner before Juve found themselves further beyond due to Simeone's sublime 20-yard drive.

Joao Pedro sent a shot from similar range skimming wide early in the second half before Buffon plunged to keep out a Simeone volley – the defence in front of the veteran gloveman continuing to look terribly disjointed.

Atalanta-bound Simone Muratore had a long-range effort saved by Cagliari keeper Alessio Cragno, who also got down sharply to keep out Ronaldo's left-footer from 25 yard in the 68th minute.

Simeone might have added to his tally and Juve's misery when he sliced wide before the visitors pounded at the Cagliari defence with diminishing return until the final whistle.

 

What does it mean? Sarri has steepening Champions League task

The more Juventus turn in performances like this, the less their schedule of competitive action before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Lyon feels like an advantage.

The Ligue 1 side have, of course, been out of action since March as they prepare to defend a 1-0 lead in Turin next month. Sarri badly needs his team to find some rhythm, something an experimental line-up entirely ruled out in Sardinia.

Simeone back in the groove

The moment of defining quality was produced by Simeone as he sized up a backpedalling Leonardo Bonucci before lashing beyond a helpless Buffon. It was his 12th goal of the Serie A season – closing on the 14 he scored in a breakout 2017-18 at Fiorentina.

That form proved good enough to earn international honours, but the last of his five caps also came in 2018. At 25, he still has plenty of time to get back on track.

Record man Ronaldo falls flat

Ronaldo is two shy of chalking up the most prolific Serie A season in Juventus history even if Immobile is now surely out of reach. But he was brought to Turin to help bring Champions League glory.

The sight of that wider goal appeared to be lost by all concerned as Sarri indulged a spiralling shot count and another 90 minutes in the legs for the 35-year-old.

What's next

Juventus wrap up their Serie A season at home to Roma on Saturday, when Cagliari are on the road at in-form Milan.

Maurizio Sarri labelled Juventus' ninth straight Serie A title success an "extraordinary feat".

Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, who also missed a penalty, and Federico Bernardeschi helped Juve to a 2-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday to clinch the league crown.

Sarri said Juve's dominance was incredible, hailing his players for winning Serie A after a break of more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It was one of the hardest [seasons] because of everything that's happened," the Juventus head coach told a news conference.

"If you think, we began our pre-season on July 6, and we won the title on July 26 the year after, that's pretty tough. Nobody can tell me that the 50, 60 days we weren't active because of lockdown, reading about thousands of deaths, has been a relaxing period.

"It's been an extremely hard season, a tough one – in sports, in football, in life, there is nothing that can be taken for granted, winning is always hard.

"Winning for two to three years is very hard. Winning for nine years, as some of these players have – I think – is an extraordinary feat."

Former Chelsea and Napoli boss Sarri, 61, became the oldest coach to win Serie A thanks to Juve's success.

The Italian joked about winning the title at his age, saying: "I, like all children, used to dream about winning the Scudetto.

"I didn't win it as a grown up, yet I did as an old man."

After Maurizio Sarri claimed his first league title with Serie A champions Juventus, Stats Perform News revisits an interview with former player Luca Tognozzi.

 

Maurizio Sarri's journey to the top of Italian football has been long and arduous.

Sarri's first foray into coaching came at the age of 31 via U.S.D Stia in 1990 while juggling work commitments – foreign currency trader by day, coach by night. That combination of banking and amateur football continued until he devoted himself to coaching in the early 2000s.

Years in the lower tiers of Italian football saw Sarri gain promotion with the likes of Sansovino, who he led to Coppa Italia Serie D glory in 2002-03, and Sangiovannese. There were also brief and forgettable stints in charge of Pescara, Arezzo, Avellino, Hellas Verona and Perugia.

It was not until 2014 that Sarri had his first taste of Serie A after guiding Empoli to promotion at the age of 55. A surprise move to Napoli followed 12 months later – the Naples-born coach, who grew up in Tuscany, an unpopular choice among fans and even club great Diego Maradona.

But Sarri revolutionised Napoli and Italian football with his attacking and free-flowing brand, earning admirers from far and wide. Head-hunted by Chelsea following two runners-up medals in Naples, Sarri was lured to Serie A champions Juventus after leading the Blues to Europa League glory in his one and only campaign at Stamford Bridge in 2018-19 for his first major title.

Sarri's Juve appointment raised eyebrows last July, questions asked due to his Napoli links and philosophy – his approach in complete contrast to Bianconeri teams of years gone by. The 61-year-old, though, became the oldest head coach to win Serie A on Sunday as he celebrated his first league triumph following a 2-0 success at home to Sampdoria.

With nine years of domestic domination however, Sarri has been tasked with leading the Old Lady to Champions League success after five runners-up medals since their last triumph in 1996. Juve trail Ligue 1's Lyon 1-0 heading into next month's Champions League last-16 return leg following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Former midfielder Luca Tognozzi knows Sarri better than most. He was a favourite of the Italian veteran, following Sarri to Sansovino, Sangiovannese and Pescara.

"The chance and his decision to land to Juventus team I think he is the right person in the right place at the right time," Tognozzi told Stats Perform News. "He deserves this opportunity for several reasons:  the way with which his teams played in recent years, results he achieved always.

"I am sure his dedication to daily work, his wilfulness and his adaptability will immediately give his mark. He is in the most important Italian football team and will also have the opportunity to entertain his audience with his personal way of making his teams play to be able to fight to achieve great results.

"I think all this is the right reward, if you can say so, for a man and for a coach who too late he got a chance to be a trainer in a team that can be highly competitive in all European competition. I am very happy for him because he deserves all of this."

Tognozzi enjoyed success with Sarri at Sansovino, where the pair helped the club move up to Serie C2 from Serie D. Tognozzi then followed the coach to Sangiovannese in 2003 and promotion to Serie C1 was achieved.

"Sarri has always been Sarri," said the 42-year-old, who also played for Sarri at Pescara in 2005-06. "Certainly, over the years he has also had the capability and the smartness to evolve himself and his way to teach football.

"I feel very proud to have been one of his players. He was a fantastic football teacher for me. I had some fun life moments with him because he is a very ironic person [as almost all Tuscan people are] ... but I keep those moments for myself."

Tognozzi continued: "He is highly demanding because he believes in what he does and the way he teaches in a work methodology and he doesn't leave nothing to chance. This makes him a special person. He can be liked or not but in the football world where not always everything is so genuine, his passion and his determination is authentic.

"Football is his passion and Sarri is involved at 100 per cent in every little detail. He started from the amateurs up to the professionals, a long journey to arrive at the top. I think it may be a greatest satisfaction. At the same time, many experts should do mea culpa for their fast and superficial evaluations.

"Out of the field Mr. Sarri is a normal and simple person with whom you can talk about everything: from literature to story, from politics to music."

Maurizio Sarri joked that Juventus must be really good if they claimed the Scudetto under the first-time Serie A-winning head coach as the champions maintained their stranglehold on Italian football.

Juve defeated Sampdoria 2-0 thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi on Sunday to clinch their ninth successive Serie A crown, a record run dating back to 2011-12.

Sarri – who replaced Massimiliano Allegri at the start of the season – became the oldest coach to win Serie A as the 61-year-old claimed his maiden league trophy, having only previously led Chelsea to Europa League glory last term.

Following a difficult first season in Turin, where his philosophy has been regularly questioned, former Chelsea and Napoli boss Sarri revelled in his achievement.

"I told them, if you won with me who has never won anything, you must be really good," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia when asked what he said to his players during the celebrations.

"The first day you come in, you see people, not just world-class players. As time passes, you get fond of them and the rapport goes from being strictly professional to personal too.

"The first day, I step into the locker room and know there are some top players. After a while, you walk in there knowing there are some great guys you can rely on too."

"It has a special feeling, of course. It's difficult to win, it becomes even more complicated to keep winning, as taking something for granted in sport is one of the biggest lies in the world," Sarri said.

"It was not a walk in the park. It was long, difficult, stressful, and this squad deserves a lot of credit for continuing to find the hunger and determination to keep going after eight wins in a row.

"I left the field because I was trying to avoid getting a bucket of water thrown over me, as it was obviously on its way, but I didn't manage to get away."

It has not been easy for Sarri and Juventus during their first season together at Allianz Stadium amid reports of unrest following Allegri's departure.

Sarri's future has dominated headlines – speculation intensifying after Juve failed to wrap up the Scudetto on Thursday following a shock 2-1 defeat to Udinese.

Juve also trail Lyon 1-0 as they prepare for next month's return leg of the Champions League last-16 tie following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Sarri added: "There were tactical difficulties, trying to get all these very strong players and their various characteristics to work together. That was not something to be taken for granted, as we saw in previous years, because [Paulo] Dybala and Ronaldo didn't really start together very often.

"They are world class, but it's not easy to get them to work together with their characteristics. With a lot of work, I think we managed it."

"Ronaldo and Dybala make the difference on the field, so clearly they deserve a lot of credit, but the club behind them is every bit as important," he continued. "We have a president and directors who attend training every day, are there to exchange ideas, see if you need anything and put petrol in the tank of this team. The club are a big part of why they were able to win for so many years. They back you even when you lose.

“In terms of organisation, Juventus are at the top of European football. I could not have asked for anything more. Obviously, it takes a while to settle in, understand the approach, the way things work here, then after a while you can start trying to tweak a few things.

"You can't just walk straight into a club that has won for eight years in a row and immediately try to order changes. That wouldn't be very intelligent."

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci conceded the club's 2019-20 Scudetto was the most difficult of the nine successive Serie A titles as they struggled to understand Maurizio Sarri's philosophy.

Juve maintained their stranglehold on Serie A by clinching yet another league title thanks to a 2-0 win over Sampdoria at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi were on target for Juve, who extended their record Serie A run, which dates back to 2011-12, with two matches remaining.

Sarri became the oldest head coach to win Serie A as the 61-year-old claimed his maiden league trophy, but it has been far from smooth sailing for the former Chelsea and Napoli boss during his first campaign in Turin.

There have been question marks over Sarri's methods amid reports of a falling out with superstar Ronaldo, while Juve have stuttered towards the Scudetto following their failure to wrap up the trophy on Thursday following a 2-1 loss to Udinese.

Bonucci revelled in Juve's glory but highlighted the difficulties under Sarri, telling Sky Sport Italia: "It was the most beautiful title, because it was the most difficult.

"We started a new era, a new philosophy, ran into so many difficulties, but we continued to give our all throughout, even when there were so many slip-ups."

"It was so complicated outside the field too, the world changed in three months," added veteran Italy centre-back Bonucci, who discussed the impact of coronavirus after Serie A was postponed for three months before returning in June. "We had to get our minds back on it, but we did it. We wanted it, we suffered.

"I have no words. We gave everything to ensure that we would do this for us, for the club, for the fans who cheered us on from home, or from heaven. We wanted to celebrate with those who weren't able to be here with us. When you wear this jersey, you cannot hold back. It has been an intense year.

"We struggled at times to interpret the coach's philosophy, but we remained a team, we worked as great men more than great players. Now we'll try to rest over the next 10 days and then prepare for the next challenge."

Page 1 of 11
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.