Juventus sack Maurizio Sarri and line up Andrea Pirlo as manager following Champions League defeat by Lyon

Lawrence Ostlere
·3-min read
Maurizio Sarri during Juventus's Champions League second leg with Lyon: EPA
Maurizio Sarri during Juventus's Champions League second leg with Lyon: EPA

Juventus have sacked Maurizio Sarri after they were knocked out of the Champions League by Lyon on Friday evening, and multiple reports in Italy suggest they are set to replace him with Andrea Pirlo.

Pirlo was named as the club’s new Under-23 coach only two weeks ago, having spent four fruitful years with the club as a player. But instead of taking up the U23 post, he will take on the role as first-team head coach in what will be his first senior management role.

Sarri came into the round-of-16 second leg under growing pressure over his tactics, style of play and his relationships with individual players, despite recently winning the Serie A title, Juve’s ninth in succession.

Lyon carried a 1-0 advantage from the first leg back in February, and a controversial first-half penalty in Turin gave the Frech side a crucial away goal. Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Juve battled back into contention, but it was not enough and the were knocked out on away goals.

Earlier this week the 61-year-old Sarri insisted it would be foolish for Juve’s board to judge his future on one game, and he reiterated the point after the match.

“My words were not difficult to interpret. I don’t think directors of a top level will make a decision based on one match. They are going to evaluate the whole season. I find this kind of question offensive, but not towards me, it’s offensive towards the directors. I have a contract, I’ll respect it and I don’t expect anything.”

Just as at Chelsea, his previous club, Sarri struggled to win over the fans either by force of personality or his tactics, which many critics found slow and uninspiring.

He also struggled to build a relationship with Ronaldo. Unlike his previous managers, Sarri substituted the striker on several occasions much to his visible displeasure. Sarri always insisted they had a “good relationship”.

In a statement, Juve said: “Juventus Football Club announces that Maurizio Sarri has been relieved of his post as coach of the First Team.

“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.”

Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi had emerged as a contender to replace Sarri. Inzaghi is the younger brother of Filippo, one of Juve’s greatest strikers, and has built a burgeoning reputation as manager of Lazio, who finished fourth this season five points behind Sarri’s champions.

Mauricio Pochettino was also considered, given his status as one of Europe’s leading coaches and his current position out of work after being sacked by Tottenham last year.

But it is Pirlo who appears to be the man ready to step into the vacant hot seat, beginning his managerial career in one of the biggest jobs in European football.

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