Maurizio Sarri described his first league title with Juventus as “tasting sweet” after a difficult debut season for the veteran coach overshadowed by a three-month coronavirus lockdown.
“I told the players ‘if you win with me who has never won anything, it is because you are really strong’,” the 61-year-old said after the Turin giants sealed their ninth straight league title on Sunday.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi scored in either half as Juventus beat Sampdoria 2-0 to move seven points ahead of second-placed Inter Milan and seal a 36th Scudetto with two games to spare. The title is Sarri’s first in his 30-year coaching career and extends a record
Juventus run which Antonio Conte started with three titles from 2012. Massimiliano Allegri continued with the next five.
“It has a sweet taste. Winning is hard and this club has been winning for so many years,” said Sarri, whose only previous trophy was the Europa League last year with Chelsea, the only time he coached outside of Italy.
“Every year it is harder.”
Juventus were rarely brilliant and often disappointing, losing in two finals, the Italian Cup and the Italian Super Cup.
“Sarrism” or “Sarriball”, that fast-paced, eye-catching style of football with which he made his name at Napoli, and which Juventus bosses craved in Turin, was only seen in flashes this season.
Although the chain-smoking Sarri gave the team orders, he adapted to Juve and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. And in the end, it was the individual brilliance of players such as Ronaldo, who has scored 31 goals, and playmaker Paulo Dybala, rather than the manager’s tactics, which landed them success.
Ronaldo is the only player with top-flight titles in England (Manchester United), Spain (Real Madrid) and Italy, while goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon became the first player to win 10 Serie A titles, all with Juventus.
“There is no doubt that it was Juve who changed Sarri and not the other way around,” said former Juventus and England coach Fabio Capello. “Juve is not an easy car to drive, there are players with great personalities and you have to prove that you have one too.”
Juventus’ focus will now turn to their Champions League last-16 tie against Lyon on Aug 7, when Juventus need to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg in France.
The Italian side have not won the European Cup since 1996.
If they make it to Portugal, they have the unenviable task of facing either Manchester City or Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.
“After an extremely strange championship I expect that the final phase of the Champions League will also be extremely strange too,” predicted Sarri.