Maurizio Sarri Sacked as Juventus Manager, Replaced by Andrea Pirlo

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2020

FILE - In this  Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020 filer, Juventus' head coach Maurizio Sarri smokes during a Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Roma, at the Allianz stadium in Turin, Italy. Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice but could not prevent Juventus from going out of the Champions League despite a 2-1 victory over Lyon in its rearranged second-leg match Friday. The French team progressed to the quarterfinals on away goals after a 2-2 draw on aggregate. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
Luca Bruno/Associated Press

Juventus announced Saturday that manager Maurizio Sarri was fired after the club was eliminated from the UEFA Champions League by Lyon in the last 16 on Friday.

"The club would like to thank the coach for having written a new page in Juventus' history with the victory of the ninth consecutive championship, the culmination of a personal journey that led him to climb all the divisions of Italian football," the statement read.

Juventus later announced that former legendary midfielder Andrea Pirlo would be named Sarri's replacement. 

Sarri lamented the harsh nature of the Champions League's knockout stages after Juve were eliminated despite going undefeated in group play and winning 2-1 win in the second leg.

"This competition doesn't take any prisoners," he told reporters Friday. "If it were a normal ranking, we would be first or second after six wins, a draw and a defeat."

Lyon's away goal, a 12th-minute Memphis Depay penalty, was the difference in a matchup that ended 2-2 on aggregate.

The 61-year-old also noted the Bianconeri were forced into a difficult spot immediately after an extended hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic: "We've had several months where we haven't done anything logical. We've been locked indoors, quarantined, individual training, then collective training, then 14 games in 48 days."

Nevertheless, getting knocked out of the Champions League led to his swift exit from the dominant Serie A club despite clinching the title in late July.

It marked Juventus' ninth straight domestic championship and their 36th overall, doubling the closest competition (18 each for AC Milan and Inter Milan).

Meanwhile, chairman Andrea Agnelli said Friday he's confident superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored both goals in the victory over Lyon, will remain with the side despite speculation otherwise.

"I am entirely convinced he will stay," he said. "I think the report was down to an interview from several months ago, which just happened to be published just before we played against a French team. It's an old media trick. No, I can assure you that Ronaldo remains a pillar of Juventus."

Sarri signed a three-year contract with Juventus in June 2019 but lasted just a single season with the club. His managerial track record dates back to 1990 and notably includes high-profile stops at Napoli and Chelsea.

Joshua Jones of The Sun reported Juve have "already contacted" former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino about filling the void.

Juventus haven't raised the Champions League trophy since 1996.