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Opinion: Pirlo showing tactical improvement during the Sassuolo win

January 11, 2021 - 1:00 pm

Despite earning an impressive victory over Milan last Wednesday, Andrea Pirlo’s game management was once again doubted by the critical eyes of footballing experts, especially after taking out his best two performers of the night – Federico Chiesa and Paulo Dybala – at the hour mark, a decision which could have backfired.

Nonetheless, the young manager had it perfectly right last night against Sassuolo. Despite some claiming it as an easy win due to the numerical advantage, the resilient Neroverdi were never out of the match.

Suffering from several injuries and a Covid-19 outbreak within the squad, Juve’s starting lineup almost picked itself, with the coach only able to do some manoeuvers in midfield, starting Weston Mckennie and Arthur instead of Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot.

Unfortunately for the Old Lady, Mckennie and Dybala had to leave the match early, and Pirlo was forced into making two first half substitutes, introducing Ramsey and Dejan Kulusevski respectively.

In the new substitutions rules, Juventus were still able to make three more changes, but they must be done during only one match stoppage.

So to prevent himself from having to do the three remaining changes all at once, Pirlo decided to make a half time substitution, rightfully taking off Rodrigo Bentancur – who once again ran the risk of earning a red card with his sloppy challenges – and introducing Rabiot in his place.

The former world cup winner thus reserved two substitutions to be made at once during the second half. But with Alvaro Morata being the only actual game changer left on the bench, Pirlo took his time before deciding to risk him, as he’s clearly still not entirely fit after his latest injury.

Around the 80th minute, Morata and Bernardeschi were set to take the field, probably instead of Frabotta and Ramsey, however, the latters surprisingly ended up creating and scoring Juve’s decisive second goal, so the substitutions were put on hold.

Few minutes later, Pirlo – once again rightfully – ended up maintaining Frabotta on the left and instead brought on Bernardeschi for Chiesa, as the team was no longer searching for a winning goal.

As the say, the match is won by the small details, and even though it was far from a brilliant performance, but Andrea Pirlo did his part right this time, as his match management is obviously improving with every passing week.

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