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.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) August 7, 2020
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.
Thanks for everything, Mister Sarri. pic.twitter.com/Qt9O98bNkt
— JuventusFC (#Stron9er ) (@juventusfcen) August 8, 2020
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.
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