Andrea Pirlo has unleashed the shackles and given Juventus' players a lot more freedom to attack opponents, according to veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci.

Juve replaced Maurizio Sarri with first-time coach Pirlo last month and the legendary midfielder kicked off his tenure with a 3-0 win over Sampdoria in Juve's 2020-21 Serie A opener on Sunday.

Reigning champions Juve registered 20 shots at Allianz Stadium and scored from three of them, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Bonucci and debutant Dejan Kulusevski finding the back of the net.

And after a largely disappointing campaign last time out under Sarri, Bonucci believes that Pirlo has already made big changes during his short time in the dugout.

"We saw some new ideas proposed by the coach and his staff, a new way of interpreting the game, a lot of enthusiasm both in possession and off the ball," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"The big difference is the way we are attacking the game and taking the initiative, trying to bring home the result. Seeing the work of the last few weeks and this game, I think it is better.

"There are different movements, as with Sarri we moved far more as a group in defence, whereas with Pirlo we are more one-on-one, giving us more freedom to be aggressive and win back the ball more often.

"We have four central midfielders with the right characteristics to play like this. They are aggressive and also good at passing the ball. That way, we have more quality in possession, which I see as a difference from last season."

Sarri was reportedly sacked by Juventus after failing to win over the dressing room with his style of play, which won him plenty of admirers at Serie A rivals Napoli.

However, Bonucci insisted rumours that the club's old guard forced Sarri out of the door are wide of the mark.

"We accepted any changes made by the club," he said. "This season, the new coach is Pirlo, who changed the way of understanding football that we had last year. 

"It's early to say if it is right or not, but it is different, with a very precise mentality of being aggressive and not wanting to concede goals.

"We had that same attitude last year, because you don't win nine Scudetti in a row without it.

"We're old enough to behave like real professionals. Pirlo is now our coach and we have the utmost respect for all our coaches, just as we try to help all our coaches from within the locker room.

"Fortunately, this is a squad full of great men who are accustomed to working with great champions. That makes it easier for everyone concerned."

Asked if Pirlo reminded him more of Sarri or Massimiliano Allegri – another of his former bosses in Turin – Bonucci said: "Much more similar to Allegri, that is obvious. 

"Pirlo has much the same impact he had as a player - you knew that you could give him the ball and trust he wouldn't lose it. Now it's the same as a coach. There is that same trust."

Gonzalo Higuain has hinted Major League Soccer could be his next destination if he is not in the plans of new Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo.

Higuain, 32, has been with Juve since 2016 when he moved from rivals Napoli and, although he enjoyed a fine first season in Turin with 32 goals across all competitions, he was less impressive the following year.

With Cristiano Ronaldo then arriving at Juve in 2018, Higuain was deemed surplus to requirements and spent the season on disappointing loan spells with Milan and then Chelsea.

Higuain was given another shot at Juve following the arrival of his former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri last year, despite him failing to impress under the Italian with Chelsea.

But a rather meagre goals tally of 11 in 43 matches does not bode well for his future, particularly given Sarri was sacked after Juve's Champions League last-16 elimination by Lyon.

Higuain insists no decision has been made yet as he still needs to talk with Pirlo, though a return to Argentina appears unlikely as he seems to prefer the idea of following his older brother Federico to MLS.

"I don't miss Argentine football, I like watching it, but no, I don't miss it," he told Fox Sports.

"I started young there and today Argentina should open its eyes because so many players hesitate to return, especially for the future of their families.

"Many now go to the United States, to China, or Saudi Arabia at the age of 25. I only left because it was Real Madrid.

"I'll rest and think. On the 24th [of August], I'll return to Italy. I have to introduce myself [to Pirlo] and see what happens with the new manager. I'm sure there will be a different dynamic.

"Many players go to MLS, it would be nice, yes, but now I'm here, let's see what happens."

Whatever happens in the short term, Higuain's future after his playing days are over will not involve management – instead, he wants to work with the "next generation".

"I will not become a coach due to the mental and physical stress that this implies," he said.

"All the coaches arrive with black hair and three years later they turn grey. I want the next generation to learn and know what it means to be a footballer, which is not playing in the square with your friends.

"I want to show them what I have experienced. Children today are very aware of what they will say and are influenced by what their parents have told them about me. Thus, the child will learn differently.

"I think that growth in Europe has been different, they respect me more abroad than there [Argentina]."

Gianfranco Zola said he is "surprised" by Juventus' decision to appoint first-time head coach Andrea Pirlo following Maurizio Sarri's dismissal.

Pirlo, 41, was sensationally appointed Juve coach on Saturday after the Serie A winners sacked Sarri following their Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Lyon.

Former Juve midfielder Pirlo, who was only recently named the Under-23s boss in Turin, will surprisingly have his first taste of senior coaching with the Bianconeri.

Zola worked as an assistant to Sarri at Chelsea in 2018-19 and he told Sky Sport Italia: "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't surprised by this.

"It's fascinating and if the project works, it'll go down as a huge success story for the club. It's not an easy job, though, as Juventus are asking to win in a certain way.

"This is a courageous move from the club and based on the quality of the man, but Pirlo will need their support going forward. It's not simple, but I do think he can have real success."

Pirlo left Juve in 2015 after the Bianconeri, who had been chasing the treble, were beaten 3-1 in the Champions League final by Barcelona.

He spent two years in MLS with New York City before calling time on his playing career.

The 2006 World Cup winner is a six-time Serie A champion, having won two Scudetti with Milan and four with Juve. He twice triumphed in the Champions League as a Rossoneri player, in 2003 and 2007.

Paulo Dybala tweeted out his appreciation for Maurizio Sarri the day after the Italian coach was sacked by Juventus.

The Serie A champions decided to take swift action following Friday's Champions League exit to Lyon, announcing the end of Sarri's reign less than 24 hours after the second leg of the last-16 tie.

Juve did not wait long to name his replacement either, giving the job to Andrea Pirlo just over a week after appointing the former Italy international as their new under-23 team coach.

The internal promotion came as a surprise too, considering links to former Juve player and current Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and Simone Inzaghi, who is in charge of domestic rivals Lazio.

Reacting to the departure of Sarri, Dybala published a picture on Twitter of the pair together with the comment: "Thank you so much for everything Mister!"

Argentina international Dybala enjoyed an excellent 2019-20 season under the former Napoli and Chelsea boss, scoring 11 goals and providing six assists in the league as the Bianconeri finished top of the table for a ninth successive year.

Dybala - who was linked with a move away from Turin last year, including to Manchester United - was named Serie A MVP for his performances in domestic games, including Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana games.

Juventus have appointed Andrea Pirlo as their new head coach on a two-year deal.

The former Italy midfielder took charge as the Under-23s boss at his old club just nine days ago but has now been named as Maurizio Sarri's successor.

Sarri was sacked on Saturday after Juve were knocked out of the Champions League on away goals at the last-16 stage following a 2-2 aggregate draw with Lyon.

Ex-Juve player and current Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane emerged as one of the initial favourites for the role, along with ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi.

There was also speculation Italy boss Roberto Mancini could be offered the post, but the club has promoted Pirlo instead.

"From today he will be the coach for Juventus, as the club has decided to entrust him with the technical leadership of the first team, after having already selected him for Juventus Under-23s," a statement read.

"Today's choice is based on the belief that Pirlo has what it takes to lead from his debut on the bench, an expert and talented squad to pursue new successes."

Pirlo left Juve in 2015 after the Bianconeri, who had been chasing the treble, were beaten 3-1 in the Champions League final by Barcelona.

He spent two years in MLS with New York City before calling time on his playing career.

The 2006 World Cup winner is a six-time Serie A champion, having won two with Milan and four with Juve. He won two Champions Leagues as a Rossoneri player, in 2003 and 2007.

Juventus are confident Andrea Pirlo is "destined for greatness" and a natural fit for the club, says chief football officer Fabio Paratici.

Juve dismissed Maurizio Sarri on Saturday in the wake of their Champions League exit at the hands of Lyon on Friday.

Sarri spent just one season at the club, winning the Serie A title but failing in the Coppa Italia and Champions League and his replacement was surprisingly announced just hours later.

Pirlo, who rejoined Juve as the Under-23s coach last week, has signed a two-year deal.

However, despite the job being Pirlo's first in senior coaching, Paratici – whose future is also reportedly in doubt – has full faith in the former midfielder.

"The decision for Pirlo was very natural, in the Juventus style, because he is someone who played with us, has always been in contact with everyone here and it felt natural," Paratici told Sky Sport Italia.

"We also believe he is destined for greatness. He was as a player and we think with confidence he can do the same as a coach."

Paratici reiterated Juve's decision to relieve Sarri of his duties was based on the entire 2019-20 campaign, not just the Champions League exit.

"We had already said, one game does not decide the future of a coach. Our evaluations were based on the whole season and not just a single match," Paratici added.

"A season is long, there are many moments and situations that then add up. There wasn't any spark.

"We simply came to this consideration at the end of a very long season, even after winning the Scudetto. It's not just Europe that decides on success or failure. 

"We are in unexplored territory, because nobody has won nine consecutive Serie A titles before. We achieved it with several eras, really, because they tend to last three to four years. We are at our third era in a row of success, it's almost inexplicable."

Juventus' elimination from the Champions League spelled the end for Maurizio Sarri and the start of a new era under Andrea Pirlo.

Despite leading the Bianconeri to a ninth straight Scudetto in 2019-20, Sarri was fired after Juve crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Lyon on Friday.

Pirlo was at the heart of Juve's brilliant midfield during the start of their Serie A dominance, winning four Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana twice during a four-year stint that ended when he moved to New York City in 2015.

A week after returning to Juve as their Under-23 boss, Pirlo was handed the reins of the first team ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is not the first club legend to go back and manage a team they played for, though, and we have taken a look at the biggest successes and failures.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Pirlo will have to get the better of his former coach Conte, now at Inter, if he is to maintain the Bianconeri's run of titles.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Juventus have appointed Andrea Pirlo as their new head coach on a two-year deal.

The former Italy midfielder took charge as the Under-23s boss at his old club just nine days ago but has now been named as Maurizio Sarri's successor.

Sarri was sacked on Saturday after Juve were knocked out of the Champions League on away goals at the last-16 stage following a 2-2 aggregate draw with Lyon.

Ex-Juve player and current Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane emerged as one of the initial favourites for the role, along with ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi.

There was also speculation Italy boss Roberto Mancini could be offered the post, but the club has promoted Pirlo instead.

"From today he will be the coach for Juventus, as the club has decided to entrust him with the technical leadership of the first team, after having already selected him for Juventus Under-23s," a statement read.

"Today's choice is based on the belief that Pirlo has what it takes to lead from his debut on the bench, an expert and talented squad to pursue new successes."

Pirlo left Juve in 2015 after the Bianconeri, who had been chasing the treble, were beaten 3-1 in the Champions League final by Barcelona.

He spent two years in MLS with New York City before calling time on his playing career.

The 2006 World Cup winner is a six-time Serie A champion, having won two with Milan and four with Juve. He won two Champions Leagues as a Rossoneri player, in 2003 and 2007.

Cristiano Ronaldo spoke of the importance of making "the best decisions for the future" in the wake of Juventus' Champions League exit and the sacking of Maurizio Sarri.

Ronaldo scored twice on Friday to give Juve a 2-1 win over Lyon in Turin, but it was not enough to prevent them going out at the last-16 stage on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

On Saturday, the Bianconeri announced they had sacked head coach Sarri barely a year after he was appointed following his departure from Chelsea.

Sarri guided Juve to a ninth Serie A title in a row, but defeat to Napoli in the Coppa Italia final and a failure to instil his playing style on the squad had led to doubts about his suitability to the job.

Andrea Pirlo, who was only appointed coach of the Juventus under-23 team last month, soon emerged as favourite to take charge at the Allianz Stadium.

Ronaldo urged everyone at Juve to use the short off-season for "critical thinking" so that they can return to satisfy fans' expectations.

While he did not mention Sarri or the speculation around the coach's possible replacement, the Portugal star made it clear the club now need to get things right.

"The 2019-20 season is over for us, much later than usual but yet sooner than we expected," Ronaldo wrote on Instagram.

"Now it's time for reflection, time to analyse the ups and downs because critical thinking is the only way to improve.

"A huge club such as Juventus must always think like the best in the world, work like the best in the world, so that we can call ourselves one of the best and biggest clubs in the world.

"Winning the Serie A once again in such a difficult year is something that we are very proud of. Personally, scoring 37 goals for Juventus and 11 for the Portuguese national team is something that makes me face the future with renewed ambition and desire to keep doing better and better each year.

"But the fans demand more from us. They expect more from us. And we have to deliver, we must live up to the highest expectations.

"May this short vacation break allow us all to make the best decisions for the future and come back stronger and more committed than ever. See you soon!"

Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo's former coach at Real Madrid, was fancied by some as a potential candidate to succeed Sarri.

Italy boss Roberto Mancini, ex-Tottenham man Mauricio Pochettino and Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi were linked with the job in the immediate aftermath of Sarri's departure.

There was a certain inevitability about Maurizio Sarri's fate once Juventus were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Lyon.

Sure, the swiftness of Juve's decision caught some off guard but not even winning the Serie A title is enough to assuage the Bianconeri board nowadays.

After nine straight Serie A titles that should not really be a surprise, and most observers would acknowledge Juve's success this season had as much to do with their rivals' failures as it did their own merits.

But how do the numbers back up such an assertion? Well, using Opta data we compared Juve's solitary Serie A season under Sarri to their final campaign under Massimiliano Allegri in 2018-19 to try and shed some light.


IMPROVEMENTS IN ATTACK?

As you would perhaps expect to see, Juve's stats suggest they were a little more inclined to go for the jugular under Sarri.

Indeed, the 76 goals, 501 shots and 243 shots on target are all higher than last season, when they registered 70, 451 and 201 in the respective areas.

But the numbers also hint at Juve not being quite as clinical as they could have been. In 2018-19, Juve converted 43 big chances and missed 42 for a big-chance conversion rate 50.59 per cent.

Looking at the same metrics under Sarri, Juve again scored 43 of their big chances but missed a disappointing 52, bringing their rate down to 45.26 per cent.

Indeed, their shot-conversion rate also dipped, albeit the drop was less noticeable, falling from 15.52 to 15.17 per cent.

One area where Juve did improve is one that would make sense given Sarri's style. The Bianconeri scored six goals from fast breaks and had 31 fast breaks in total, compared to three and 16 the season before.


PASSING THE SARRI TEST?

Sarri was employed in part to bring an attractive style of football to match a winning team at Juve. Of course, a simple eye test may suggest he was not exactly successful at doing so.

But the stats do suggest Sarri was at least making progress with this end game.

Juve created more chances and big chances (503 and 66 compared to 476 and 60), while there were 47 assists in total, slightly up from 44.

Their passing stats improved as well. A passing accuracy of 87.97 is better than the 86.24 of last term, while the same metric in their own and the opposition half was higher (92.04 and 85.13 per cent against 91.44 and 86.24). This was despite attempting more passes this season (21,727 to 20,092).

Overall, Juve also spent more time in possession of the ball, rising from 56.22 to 58.31 per cent.


NOT MUCH CASE FOR THE DEFENCE

Unfortunately, while Sarri could feasibly argue Juve had made progress going forward, the case for the defence is not nearly as strong.

Juve conceded 43 goals this term, a pretty big increase from the 30 in the last term under Allegri, while they also kept four fewer clean sheets (12 as opposed to 16).

Duel success was down only a smidgen from 53 to 52.53, while there was a bigger plunge in tackle success – that figure going from 62.11 to 59.

Additionally, there were fewer recoveries (2163 down to 2030), aerial successes (557 down to 448), blocks (128 down to 117) and possession wins (1,945 down to 1,811).

Juventus did not make as many errors leading to shots (14 down from 16) but did make six errors leading to goals, two more than the four in 2018-19.

This defensive dip can be perhaps partly explained by the longer spells of possession but it still does not reflect particularly well for Sarri.


BETTER THAN CHELSEA, WORSE THAN NAPOLI?

Sarri's Napoli side were revered across the continent but the same cannot be truly said of his teams at Chelsea or Juve, albeit the latter two ventures only lasted one season each.

At Napoli, Sarri oversaw 98 wins in 148 games across all competitions, giving him a win percentage of 66.2 with the Partenopei.

With Chelsea, where Sarri won a first major honour in the 2018-19 Europa League, he celebrated 39 wins in 63 games as his win percentage dropped to 61.9.

It climbed back up to 65.4 with Juve, where Sarri was a victor 34 times in 52 matches – but ultimately it was enough to convince the Bianconeri's hierarchy.

Maurizio Sarri was like an uncomfortable guest at Juventus and his sacking was not a surprise, Alessio Tacchinardi says.

Sarri was dismissed on Saturday following Juve's Champions League elimination at the hands of Lyon less than 24 hours earlier.

The 61-year-old secured Juve's ninth Serie A title in a row in his only season in charge but lost the Coppa Italia final to Napoli, while problems instilling his style into the squad had prompted concerns about his long-term suitability to the role.

In that regard, Tacchinardi does not believe it was simply Friday's 2-1 win over Lyon - which saw the Ligue 1 side progress to the Champions League quarter-finals on away goals - that forced Juve to make a change.

Tacchinardi also feels Juve's squad planning left Sarri short-handed, with 21-year-old striker Marco Olivieri having been thrown on in the closing minutes for his Champions League debut as they desperately sought a third goal.

"I hadn't received any signals from Turin, but I don't think this defeat was necessary for Sarri to be sacked," the former midfielder, who won six Serie A titles and the 1996 Champions League with the Bianconeri, told TMW Radio.

"He always seemed like a guest who did not feel at ease. At Napoli, he was a leader.

"There were many players in a precarious condition yesterday. Juve won officially but the only won who actually won was [Cristiano] Ronaldo.

"With all due respect to Olivieri, to think Juve let someone like [Mario] Mandzukic go makes you think."

Real Madrid head coach and former Juve midfielder Zinedine Zidane is considered one of the favourites to replace Sarri, along with Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi and former Tottenham man Mauricio Pochettino.

There is also speculation Italy coach Roberto Mancini could be offered the position.

"Between Mancini and Zidane, I'd prefer the Frenchman," Tacchinardi said. "He knows Juve and knows how to be respected, but Mancini would be okay, too. I think the national team coach could come."

Juventus have decided their Maurizio Sarri experiment has not worked and for the second time in as many seasons the Bianconeri are on the hunt for a new head coach.

Sarri was the man chosen to succeed Massimiliano Allegri ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, an appointment that seems a lifetime ago in a season interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Napoli boss steered Juve to a ninth straight Serie A title, but the unconvincing nature of that triumph meant the Scudetto alone was never likely to be enough to convince the club's hierarchy Sarri would be the man to achieve the ultimate goal of winning the Champions League.

They fell short in Europe on Friday night, with Juve failing to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to Ligue 1 side Lyon in the Champions League last 16, a 2-1 win on the night meaning they exited on the away goals ruling.

With Sarri gone, we take a look at some of the prime contenders to take over at the Italian champions.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO

An easy link, or a case of ideal timing? Pochettino has been out of work since being sacked by Tottenham in November 2019. That relationship soured towards the end but should not overshadow his achievements with Spurs, including taking them to a Champions League final. The Argentine coach was also linked with the Bianconeri a year ago, though now there is no need to negotiate a compensation package with another club. With a shorter turnaround than usual before a new season, the 48-year-old is available for Juve, should they want someone in place quickly.

SIMONE INZAGHI

Sarri was let go despite winning Serie A, but there was a period when Lazio looked like ending their Scudetto dominance. Former striker Inzaghi led the Rome side to the Coppa Italia last year and has twice thwarted Juve in the Supercoppa Italiana in his four years at the helm. Although their title challenge fell away after the restart, Inzaghi earned Lazio a spot in the Champions League proper for the first time since 2007-08.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE

In his first full season back in the Santiago Bernabeu hotseat, the France great led Real Madrid to a first LaLiga title since the 2016-17 campaign. But after being knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Manchester City and with Madrid's reputation for chaos, Zidane's future is perhaps not 100 per cent locked in. It would still be a huge surprise to see Zidane depart the Spanish capital, though if he did, perhaps a return to Juve – where he starred in his playing days before joining Madrid – may be tempting. With three straight Champions League wins to his name from 2016 to 2018, his proven pedigree may appeal to Juve who are so desperate to land Europe's most coveted prize.

ANTONIO CONTE

Could Juventus turn to the man who sparked their run of nine successive Serie A titles? A once mighty midfield force for the Bianconeri, coach Conte led Juventus to three straight Scudetti before leaving to become Italy boss in 2014. After spells with the Azzurri and Chelsea, Conte has wound up at Inter, so it might take an audacious raid on their Serie A rivals for Juventus to be reunited with their former boss. Yet amid mixed fortunes in his first year at San Siro, there are some who think Conte could be on the lookout for a new job sooner rather than later.

PAULO SOUSA

A double winner with Juve in 1994-95 and a member of the team that won the Champions League a season later, Sousa has the advantage of a prior connection with the club but should be considered an outside shot. He has enjoyed a nomadic coaching career that has included stops at Leicester City, Swansea City, Basel and Fiorentina but has failed to inspire in his current post at Bordeaux, where his win percentage is just 30.2.

Juventus have confirmed Maurizio Sarri has been sacked following the club's failure to progress beyond the last 16 of the Champions League.

The decision to dispense with Sarri was taken in the aftermath of the club's surprising elimination to Lyon, Juve going out on away goals despite a 2-1 second-leg victory in Turin on Friday.

Failure to progress in Europe has led to the former Napoli and Chelsea boss losing his job after a solitary season in charge, despite winning the Serie A title.

"Juventus Football Club announces that Maurizio Sarri has been relieved of his post as coach of the first team," read a short statement from the club.

"The club would like to thank the coach for having written a new page in Juventus' history with the victory of the ninth consecutive championship, the culmination of a personal journey that led him to climb all the divisions of Italian football."

Reports in Italy have suggested Mauricio Pochettino - out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham in November 2019 - is a leading candidate for the job.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, who spent five years with the Bianconeri during his playing career, and Simone Inzaghi, in charge of domestic rivals Lazio, have also been linked.

Sarri departs even with Juve extending their run of domestic dominance by being crowned champions for a ninth successive season. 

It was a first league title for the 61-year-old in a coaching career that started in the lower levels of Italian football, though he missed out on the double after losing the Coppa Italia final to Napoli - his old club - on penalties. 

There were also concerns after Juve rather limped over the line to secure the Scudetto again. A run of four successive wins upon the resumption of the campaign in June helped create a cushion that came in handy in the end, as many of their rivals fell away down the stretch.

While the title was clinched with two games to spare, back-to-back defeats followed to see them finish just a solitary point clear of Inter in the final table. They leaned heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo too, the Portuguese scoring 31 goals in 33 appearances in the league.

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."

Page 1 of 12
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.