The apprentice beats the gentleman: Dionisi beats Allegri as Juventus loses again

The apprentice beats the gentleman: Dionisi beats Allegri as Juventus loses again

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Bbefore kick-off at the Allianz stadium, Alessio Dionisi posed for photos with Massimiliano Allegri. There was a slight awkwardness to the scene, something invented in the media narrative that sought to portray Sassuolo and Juventus managers as peas from the same pod. Both are Tuscan, both supported the Bianconeri children, and both have now trained the Neroverdi. But they are at very different times in their careers.

Allegri is six-time Serie A champion and two-time Champions League finalist: a “guarantee”, in the parlance of Italian football, renewed this summer for the certainty that he could get Juventus back on track after missing the title . under Andrea Pirlo. Dionisi is a young manager who still has everything to prove, working for the first time in Serie A. As recently as 2018, he had not coached above the fourth level.

He has expressed his admiration for Allegri in the past, telling the Gazzetta dello Sport: “I’ve always said he intrigued me. Still, he sought to downplay that angle this week, saying in his pre-match press conference that Allegri is “a manager I very much admire, but not the only one.”

Dionisi preferred to talk about his team, their approach to a match that “on paper, we have little chance of winning”. Sassuolo, 11th in the standings, was missing a pair of key holders, No. 10 Filip Djuricic and winger Jérémie Boga. They should be opportunistic, he said, taking advantage of situations where their opponents have lost the ball.

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His players were listening. The match was decided in the 95th minute, when a cross from Juan Cuadrado missed his targets in the middle of Sassuolo’s box. Matheus Henrique recovers the ball and sends it back to Domenico Berardi.

With a score level of 1-1, many would have expected the Italy international to play for the time. Hoofing the ball would probably have been enough to seal a point. But Berardi looked up before the ball came in and saw Maxime Lopez on the opposite flank. There was only one Juventus player, Weston McKennie, back to defend this entire side of the pitch.

Berardi managed the trajectory of his pass perfectly, sending him over the head of the American and hitting his teammate in stride. Lopez, likewise, chose his shot selection well, chipping Mattia Perin.

Just like that, Sassuolo had sealed his very first win away from Juventus. Okay, okay, maybe we simplify it a bit. Dionisi’s side had also sailed well for most of the previous 94 minutes, taking the lead over Davide Frattesi on the stroke of half-time and defending them for half an hour into the second before McKennie leveled off from the half-time. head on a free kick.

Juventus started the game well, but the predictability of their attacks in the second half is the continuation of an awkward theme. Allegri bowed to popular opinion by starting Paulo Dybala and Federico Chiesa after the two were excluded from the starting XI for Sunday’s draw against Inter, but their combined presence was still not enough.

Sassuolo’s Maxime Lopez (left) passes the ball over Mattia Perin in the 95th minute. Photographie : Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Six years ago, a loss to Sassuolo marked a turning point for Juventus. They got off to a terrible start in 2015-16 but rebounded from a 1-0 loss to those same opponents taking 73 points out of the next 75 available. Along the way, Gianluigi Buffon set a Serie A record by not conceding for 974 straight minutes.

Allegri was also the manager at the time. It wasn’t the only time he turned a slow start into a strong finish. His first Serie A job was in Cagliari, in 2008, where he started with five consecutive losses. The Sardinians stopped the rot with a draw against Milan, then finished ninth, well ahead of their preseason goals.

Yet the task that awaits him now seems daunting. This season only has 10 games, but Juventus are already 13 points behind league leaders Milan. No club in Serie A history has ever returned to win the title so late. They don’t have Buffon to lean on either. Allegri’s side have conceded 13 Serie A goals, their most at this stage of the season since 1988.

“It doesn’t make sense to talk about goals right now,” the manager said afterwards. “We shouldn’t be looking at the table. Our only goal should be to better manage the matches.

Juventus signed Sassuolo midfielder this summer, Manuel Locatelli, to help them do just that. He’s been overshadowed here by Lopez and Davide Frattesi, who made their Serie A debuts early in this campaign.

These two have already been deployed by Dionisi as a pair of midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 but, driven by the absences of Boga and Djuricic, the manager has adapted here to a 4-3 -3. “When we were playing with two in the middle, I ask [Frattesi] not to do those runs forward, ”the manager said when asked about the opening goal – although he could just as easily have spoken of Lopez. “Now we have a three, he can and he has to do it. “

Quick guide

Serie A results


Juventus 1-2 Sassuolo
Sampdoria 1-3 Atalante
Udinese 1-1 Verona
Cagliari 1-2 Rome
Empoli 0-2 International
Lazio 1-0 Fiorentina
Spezia 1-1 Genoa
Venice 1-2 Salerno
Milan 1-0 Turin
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Dionisi’s first season as Serie A coach didn’t start as badly as Allegri’s in Cagliari, but it certainly wasn’t entirely normal for Sassuolo as they started this campaign with four points in five games. He earned his place in the top flight, leading Empoli to No. 1 in Serie B last season, but his choice to leave the ship after doing so was starting to feel like a questionable choice at this point.

Now, however, Sassuolo is in the top half, and the future is starting to look bright. “We were missing a win like this,” Lopez said Wednesday. “Dionisi is young, but he knows how to make the team play well. We took a little while to figure out what he wanted, but now we’re in a good position.

Dionisi beat a manager he admires on Wednesday. Within Italian football, its own list of admirers continues to grow.

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