Maurizio Sarri could get some early vindication for his appointment as Juventus coach by winning the Coppa Italia on Wednesday evening against former team Napoli.
The Bianconeri secured their place in the final after eliminating AC Milan on the away goals rule in the semi-finals, having drawn the first leg 1-1 in February and then playing out a scoreless draw in Turin on Friday evening, and the 61-year-old is now on course to secure his first major trophy in charge of La Vecchia Signora.
Earning some criticism early in his tenure due to some poor performances and disappointing defeats, it seemed that he had barely provided any upgrade on his predecessor Massimiliano Allegri in Turin.
The 52-year-old had won five consecutive Serie A titles and also secured four domestic doubles but the Livorno native was not able to transform that form in Italy into European success and his Juve side played some dour football despite boasting attacking weapons like Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, and latterly Cristiano Ronaldo.
Napoli under Sarri were one the very few teams that came closest to breaking La Vecchia Signora’s domestic dominance and they did so by playing proactive football.
He then coached English club Chelsea in the 2018/19 campaign and their victory in the Europa League final against fellow Londoners Arsenal was the Naples-born tactician’s first piece of major silverware.
The Europa League might not contain the same gloss and prestige as the Champions League but it is still a European trophy and it is still one more trophy than what Allegri has won in European competitions.
So far, Sarri has not been able to successfully implement his Sarrismo philosophy, but Chelsea fans rarely saw it either. The Blues had a squad primarily suited to counterattacking football and he has faced the same dilemma in charge of Juventus.
Midfielders like Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira have achieved success in their careers through their work ethic and their defensive actions than their skills on the ball and they are also past their prime so adapting to a quick, possession-based style of play has not been easy for them.
Surprisingly, Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic has not been able to thrive under Sarri and he has shown signs of decline. Undoubtedly the most technically gifted midfielder the Bianconeri have, he has been misplacing passes more than usual and looked less incisive.
There have been some flashes of brilliance under the former Napoli coach though.
Dybala and Ronaldo have developed a better understanding in attack than what they had done under Allegri, Douglas Costa’s mercurial talents can unlock opposition defences when he is fit, and Uruguayan midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur has become an integral part of the team with his performances in the regista role.
Although Juventus have struggled to consistently obtain results and the team is still lacking in fluidity, Sarri is close to adding another trophy to La Vecchia Signora’s trophy cabinet despite the doubts due to a lack of silverware at previous clubs.
For a club that prides itself on winning and nothing else, Juve would be happy if the former Napoli and Chelsea tactician collects another trophy while the beautiful football would be nothing more than a bonus.