The rebooted and new-look Champions League tournament has already seen its first shock result, with Juventus losing to Olympique Lyon on away goals in the round of 16. Their second leg tie, which had been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic situation, finished as a 2-1 win to the Italian side, but having lost 1-0 to Lyon away from home in the first leg, they were eliminated on the away goals rule. This was swiftly followed by the news that manager Maurizio Sarri had been sacked, despite leading Juventus to yet another Serie A title, with Andrea Pirlo replacing him in the dugout.
Pirlo’s appointment has raised many eyebrows, with the Italian World Cup winner having no managerial experience. He had only been appointed as manager of Juventus’ U-23 side a week earlier, making this promotion a bit of a head-scratcher. Evidently, Juventus are hoping to achieve what the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid have done in the past and present with Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane respectively by appointing a decorated former player as manager. However, both Guardiola and Zidane had cut their teeth managing at reserve level for at least one season, and it will be interesting to see how Pirlo copes with the pressure at the Allianz Stadium, despite all his influence and reputation.
Juventus will definitely be looking to refresh their squad in the summer, as quite a few players have now begun looking ‘past it’. Dejan Kulusevski is set to arrive from Atalanta after his loan at Parma concluded, while the club have also completed a deal for Arthur from Barcelona, with Miralem Pjanic going the other way. However, there are others who are on their way out as well. French midfielder and World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi has already left for David Beckham’s Inter Miami on a free transfer, while there are rumours that Aaron Ramsey is up for sale as well after just one season in Turin. Gonzalo Higuain may be moved on as well now that Sarri is gone, while Douglas Costa is another whose time in Turin may be up.
The Old Lady have made the Champions League their ultimate objective, with success or failure in the competition determining a manager’s fate. Serie A titles are considered par for the course, and even with all this upheaval, Juve will remain the betting favourites for the Scudetto at most premier betting sites in Nigeria and elsewhere. This title was their ninth consecutive Serie A title, showing the dominance they have built up domestically, although Inter Milan now look like they will pose a credible challenge next season after finishing just one point behind Juve in the table. Thus, Juventus need to bring in some new talent as well, especially as it seems like Cristiano Ronaldo is dissatisfied. The Portuguese legend has been linked with a move to PSG, especially after Juve’s exit in the Champions League, and the hierarchy will need to keep him satisfied if they want to have another tilt at the Champions League with him spearheading the effort.