International Champions Cup 2019

Football: Sarri stamps mark on Juve

New coach insists his players must adapt to 'Sarri-ball' as Old Lady chase European glory

Remote video URL
Maurizio Sarri looking on as Juventus defender Mattia de Sciglio speaks to the media before training at the Bishan Stadium yesterday.
Maurizio Sarri looking on as Juventus defender Mattia de Sciglio speaks to the media before training at the Bishan Stadium yesterday. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Star man Cristiano Ronaldo relishes training on the Bishan pitch, while receiving the adulation of the crowd alongside new teammate Matthijs de Ligt. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Fandi Ahmad, with his son Ilhan, speaking with fans before another meet-and-greet with Juventus players Miralem Pjanic and Mattia de Sciglio. ST PHOTO: KIMBERLY KWEK
Earlier in the day, Indonesian fans of the Old Lady waited for their team’s arrival at Swissotel The Stamford. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

His eponymous "Sarri-ball" philosophy was first embraced, then derided by the Chelsea fans last season, even though Maurizio Sarri ended his only season in English football with the Europa League trophy.

The 60-year-old Italian had been described as stubborn as he refused to deviate from his tactics and preferred personnel even when the results were going against the Blues.

And the Juventus coach is adamant he will not change after his off-season move to the Old Lady, despite the pressure of managing a team of stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and the expectation of winning their first Champions League title since 1996.

It was their European failure that led to the departure of Massimiliano Allegri at the end of last season.

Asked before Juve's training session at Bishan Stadium yesterday how he is adapting to his new club, Sarri said: "Nothing really changes during practice.

"I'm myself, I have to do my thing. The players have to adapt to my style, but I have to adapt to the players I have on the field.

"Seventy per cent of what happens on the pitch, I would like to see my style. Thirty per cent, I would like to see what (the players) can do."

The former Napoli coach, who is in town with his team for the International Champions Cup where they face Tottenham Hotspur tonight, also spoke about building a new "game identity", as the Italian giants seek to go all the way in the Champions League next season. Juve were ousted in the quarter-finals of last season's competition.

Sarri said: "At the moment we are working hard to create a strong game identity, then we will try to win with this game identity.

"In Italy we are aware we are the strongest team, Europe a different story. We're working to make the team stronger because other teams in Europe are doing the same."

After winning their eighth consecutive Serie A title last season, the Old Lady strengthened in the off-season by signing the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba has been linked with a move back to Turin, where he played from 2012-2016, but Sarri was coy about the France international.

Sarri said: "I'm not the technical director, I don't know. I like him very much but I don't know the situation and I don't want to speak about a United player."

What he does know, is that he wants to deploy his superstar Ronaldo in a variety of positions in attack.

He said: "I'll try to play Ronaldo on the left side but he could play anywhere. He's won so much, he's an experienced player, I don't mind moving him to other parts of attacking positions."

His players Mattia de Sciglio and Miralem Pjanic were optimistic the new boss' methods would bear fruit. Full-back di Sciglio said at the press conference: "We have seen in the past he has done well with Napoli and Chelsea. We'll try to do as well with him at Juventus.

"I'm very motivated and we'll try to go as far as possible in any competition as we can."

Playmaker Pjanic added at an adidas event at Kallang Wave Mall: "Every year, Juventus try to compete and try to win the Champions League.

"This year it will be another year that we will try to go to the end of the Champions League, to try and win this competition. The most important thing is that we don't have too many injuries like last year at a crucial period of the season.

"If everybody is ready when the important things start, I think we have a great chance to reach all of our objectives."

SEE ALSO: Precocious teens get fast track to the top

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 21, 2019, with the headline Football: Sarri stamps mark on Juve. Subscribe