New Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri hasn’t been able to successfully implement his attacking philosophy yet but he has sustained La Vecchia Signora’s dominance in Serie A and earned qualification for the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
The former Napoli and Chelsea tactician was hired to bring a more proactive approach to the Bianconeri’s football but the Torinese side have produced a lot of sterile possession with some moments of individual brilliance so far.
One player who can help add an extra dimension to Juventus’ play is experienced Brazilian winger Douglas Costa, who has made an impact as a super-sub in the Bianconeri’s last two competitive fixtures against Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow and AC Milan.
When he has played under Sarri, the 29-year-old has displayed his pace, dribbling skills, and inventiveness, and he has the attributes to make Sarrismo come to reality at the Allianz Stadium.
After coming off early in the 0-0 draw against Fiorentina in Serie A on September 14, a muscular injury ruled Costa out for over a month and as a result, Sarri switched to a 4-3-1-2 formation with Federico Bernardeschi playing behind the strikers, where the Italian international has struggled to convince.
Prior to the draw with the Gigliati, the Juventus coach was deploying the 4-3-3 formation with Douglas Costa on the right-wing and Cristiano Ronaldo on the left, and the presence of the Brazilian on the right flank brought some unpredictability to La Vecchia Signora’s play.
He has played in six competitive matches throughout 2019/20 so far, scoring once and providing two assists, but statistics do not tell the whole story. Watching his movement and skill gives a greater indication of his importance.
For instance, Costa replaced Sami Khedira in the last 20 minutes of Juve’s clash against Lokomotiv Moscow on November 6 but the scores had been locked at 1-1 since the 12th minute. In stoppage time, the Brazilian received a pass from his compatriot Alex Sandro, dribbled past three defenders, played a one-two with Gonzalo Higuain, and continued dribbling into the box to score the winning goal.
Sarri’s football involves playing at a high tempo and creating intricate passing moves but Douglas Costa’s goal was a piece of improvisation, initiative, and individual class.
Although he did not repeat the trick against Milan, the Brazilian was the catalyst for Juve’s winner scored by Paulo Dybala.
He replaced Bernardeschi after 61 minutes and he started the move for the winning goal in the 77th minute. Costa got the ball on the left-wing, moved inward, and stopped when he was approached by Rossoneri midfielder Lucas Paqueta. He then feinted a shot and passed to Dybala. An exchange of passes between Dybala, Miralem Pjanic, and Higuain took place before La Joya went on to score.
During the exchange of passes, Costa had continued his run, acting initially as a passing target but he was eventually used as a decoy, while the Milan defence could not work out who to track.
Although Sarrismo is a system-based philosophy, Sarri still gives room for flair players to express themselves.
At Napoli, Lorenzo Insigne was able to provide some X-factor, while at Chelsea, Eden Hazard was the one that had extra room to move around.
This time at Juventus, Sarri can count on Douglas Costa once he has reached full fitness and his importance will increase if Ronaldo does not get out of his recent form slump.
Surely watching Costa make a mockery of opposition defenders is much more pleasing that watching Bernardeschi blast long-range shots high into the sky.