The Bianconeri have a lot of problems to fix in order to get back to winning ways.
Inter Milan’s Serie A triumph in the 2020/21 season means the end of Juventus’s long-time winning streak. The outfit won nine-consecutive league titles before their streak ended. Moreover, the club is also staring at the possibility of missing out on one of the UEFA Champions League places.
The problems at Juventus were visible for a few years but the club was somehow afloat due to the lack of competition in the division. The challenge to remain on top has become tougher with the resurgence of teams like Inter Milan, AC Milan along with Atalanta and Napoli.
Juventus has seen issues come up this season on all fronts. An early exit from the UCL and a recent defeat by three goals to nil at the hands of the Rossoneri culminates the collective failures at the club.
In order to regain their lost charm, the 36-time Italian champions need to make following five changes:
Introduce young players into the setup
Over the past few years, Juventus have recruited players on a free transfer who are relatively in the latter stages of their career. This has led to the average age of the squad increase gradually. The long-term effects of this strategy turned out to be counter-productive.
The Old Lady needs young players in the roster. They must build towards the future with a sustainable plan in mind. Hiring Andrea Pirlo as manager was part of a long-term process. Sooner rather than later, players like Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira, Juan Cuadrado among others should be replaced.
Provide support to Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is not responsible for the persistent issues at the club. It would be wrong to assume that he has not played to his level. Rather, Ronaldo has been shouldering the responsibility of delivering in the attacking department single-handedly. The Portuguese has 35 goals and four assists in 42 games this term.
The fact is, Ronaldo is the only attacker the club can rely upon. Paulo Dybala has struggled with injuries lately and Alvaro Morata has been disappointing. The club must look outwards to bring in attacking talent to share the burden of scoring goals.
Implement fluid tactics
An analysis of the way Juventus plays suggests they want to implement a possession based gameplay. Andrea Pirlo’s men try to keep hold of the ball but fail to pressurise the opponents in their starting third. The possession-based game requires immediate high-pressing at the onset of loss of possession, something Juventus does not do well but teams like Manchester City excel at. Moreover, their final third pattern of play is too predictable
Most of the attacking patterns against AC Milan saw Cuadrado deliver cross after cross into the box. There is a lack of creativity in the center of the midfield where there are no through balls for Ronaldo to latch on. The forward thrives on through balls instead of being used as a target man. The Rossoneri kept a clean-sheet against Juventus by predicting their pattern of play and isolating Ronaldo in the box.
Focused recruitment in problem areas
Juventus needs to revamp their recruitment strategy. The club has been playing safe over the years, buying free agents for high wages and staying afloat in the league. However, such a one-dimensional strategy got exposed when other teams reinforced their squads smartly. There are a few areas where the Old Lady must bring in top-quality players to fill in the gaps.
Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have lost a yard of pace due to their age. The defence needs to be focused around Matthijs De Ligt. The midfield desperately needs a creative playmaker, a role Aaron Ramsey or Adrien Rabiot cannot perform. Lastly, the attacking options have to be revamped too. A breath of fresh talent should be recruited for players like Gonzalo Higuain, Mario Mandzukic, Douglas Costa and more.
Change the manager
Andrea Prilo’s appointment came as a real shock. While the reports did suggest the impending dismissal of Maurizio Sarri, nobody expected Pirlo to take over the role of the manager of the senior team. On July 30, 2020, he took up the role of the U23 side and got promoted to the senior team in a couple of weeks in August 2020.
The Italian lacks experience of managing a team at the elite level. While he understands the issues at hand, he lacks the expertise of working through these issues. Pirlo is still developing as a manager but the club needs a reliable figure to guide the team out of the mess. For instance, someone like Antonio Conte, who came in and uplifted Inter Milan’s performances with his quality.