Juventus are in a tough spot currently. The recent loss to Hellas Verona left them second in the table, as Inter climbed back to the top with a comeback win in the Derby della Madonnina. While there do seem to be some problems at the Allianz Stadium as things stand, the bianconeri should know that they are still the favourites to win the Serie A.
It is fair to say that Maurizio Sarri’s men have often looked like Massimiliano Allegri’s side. It has been boring and dull- something that isn’t really related to a Sarri team. There has been a lack of creativity in midfield, with players still settling into the new system. There is a feeling that Sarri hasn’t done enough to instil the style into the team.
But that is why it is a waiting game. With time, Sarri’s Chelsea had improved. They looked better as the season went on and it led to the Blues winning the Europa League. Juve- like Chelsea had been playing a more pragmatic brand of football over the years. And there is a chance that it happens again.
Learning the complex Sarri system is a process and it comes with time. The signs of the team slowly getting in the grove have already been seen. In Juve’s wins over Cagliari and Udinese, they had looked like a Sarri team. A lot of it was down to Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot adding dynamism to a dull midfield.
The case of Ramsey and Rabiot is important too. Both were signed for free in the summer and fitness issues have made their integration tough. Their recent performances have shown that they add more to Sarri’s system that Blaise Matuidi or Sami Khedira.
Indeed, what Juve can’t complain about in a lot of positions is the lack of depth. A lot of times this season, they’ve relied on individual brilliance to get over the line. This meant that they got stiff wins over Verona, Brescia, Bologna, Genoa, Milan, Torino and even Sampdoria. In each of the games, they had relied on individual magic from Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Miralem Pjanic or Cristiano Ronaldo.
If not for that, they could have been further below- like the Serie A Expected Points table shows. This reliance of individual quality has led them to pick up ten points from losing positions– as much as Inter and three less than Lazio.
They, like Lazio and the nerazzurri, do have phases in which they win or lose games. It isn’t a case of complete domination at any point.
It is also important to remember that this is still a Champion team. Many players in this side have won multiple times- something Inter and Lazio players haven’t. They have the know-how of how to win silverware. And when they have Cristiano Ronaldo, they can sometimes play with the spirit of 12 men.
Inter though, have a soft underbelly against Juventus. Despite being in very good form early in the season, they lost to Juve. That again comes down to mentality in the games against closest rivals. Juve have lost twice to Lazio, but they’ve been a death-knell for the nerazzurri.
They might not be perfect currently. But perfection is what Sarri always strives for. They are preparing a cake and there is still a chance that the title win turns out to be the cherry on top.