Maurizio Sarri Tactics: Former Banker, Excellent Tactician

Mon 25 October 2021 | 14:30

Maurizio Sarri is one of the best coaches in the world, but he has come a long way to get to where he is now. This part will go over Maurizio Sarri tactics in order to gain a better understanding of this fascinating journey.

Maurizio Sarri, a former banker, had no prior managerial experience before beginning his professional career as a manager at Napoli. Perhaps many are curious regarding

Maurizio Sarri tactics at Napoli

or even Maurizio Sarri tactics at Lazio.

Few managers in European football have had more unlikely and surprising ascensions to the top than Maurizio Sarri. He never played professionally, instead of dividing his time between working as a banker and playing and managing an amateur team, but in 1999, he left his day job to focus solely on coaching. Sarri worked his way up the Italian footballing ladder before taking over as manager of Napoli at 56, replacing

Rafa Benitez


It was in Napoli, where he was born that Sarri became a household name among football fans. From 2015 to 2018, Maurizio Sarri's Napoli were known for their unique style of play, which was built on verticality in possession, high-tempo passing, and circuit-based football. His squad frequently used third-man runs to either lure defender out of position, create a clear path forward, or break through the opposition's defensive block.

While his subsequent periods at Chelsea and Juventus were less successful, it's only a matter of time before he gets another chance at the top level. Let's look at the fundamental concepts that have guided Sarri's style of play and the traits that define 'Sarriball’.

Maurizio Sarri Tactics at Napoli: How Everything Shaped?

Instead of playing professional football, Maurizio Sarri worked as a banker while also playing and coaching amateur football. Sarri coached a number of teams in Italy's lower leagues before taking charge of Pescara in the Serie B for the first time in 2005. Many believe

Maurizio Sarri tactics

started here, while there is some truth to that now.

Sarri then bounced around clubs until Empoli hired him in 2012, which was his big break. Empoli finished fourth in his three seasons, falling in the playoffs before winning a second-place result. After six years away from the top flight, Empoli finished 15th in his final season, assuring their spot in Seria A the following season. 

Sarri came to


the next season, and it was here that his reputation grew, as Napoli finished second and third twice. In his final season before joining Chelsea, Napoli ran Juventus all the way and finished four points behind the old lady.

When it comes to a preferred system or formation to play at Napoli, Maurizio Sarri essentially really had one option. He chose a 4-3-3 system 92 percent of the time while using 4-1-4-1 and 4-4-2 only 2% of the time, applying them only in tests or when other circumstances prohibited him from choosing his preferred system.

He would always have three midfielders in this formation, two of whom would be higher up the pitch and play more attacking roles. The other was more defensively oriented and played as a holding midfielder or pivot.

His attacking three was frequently set up in a narrower shape to provide room for the overlapping full-backs who were his major width contributors. Napoli liked the left side since he had a terrific offensive threat in

Faouzi Ghoulam


Napoli had a solid squad to back up their outstanding play in the 2017/18 season. They were a well-oiled machine offensively, putting 40.8 percent of their shots on target and winning just under half of all offensive duels. When it came to attacking, they had a clear strategy that centered on positional play. His squad averaged 38.44 positional attacks per game while only using counters 2.56 times. Nonetheless, the latter tactic proved effective, with 36.7 percent of all counters resulting in a hit.

Napoli possessed a variety of ways to injure their opponents and knew how to employ all of their weapons. Every attack under Maurizio Sarri began at the back, with the goalkeeper constantly communicating with his midfield. Notice how the center-backs stay wide and allow one midfielder to drop deeper to receive the ball.

This position was utilized to orchestrate from a more liberated position while also assisting the team in removing the opposition's press. The full-backs can sprint forward to attack when the center-backs take up their wide positions. 

Sarriball's defense was pretty vulnerable last season, as they allowed 8.7 shots per game on average, with 36.4 percent of those being on target, and they only won 22.1 percent of defensive duels.

Maurizio Sarri had a particular approach when defending, just as he did when attacking, and it all focused around positional play. He liked a specific shape for defensive transitions and ball recovery, although the attackers would mostly determine the team's condition in the first place.

Maurizio Sarri tactics

were a more fluid game than fixed in a looser translation, and it was more prone to change depending on the opposition. Their off-the-ball mobility was crucial in this regard, as Napoli disliked losing possession for long periods. As a result, when defending, pushing high and well was a top priority. Sarriball's pressing game was a significant feature.

 When you lose the ball, you strive to get it back as quickly as possible and as high up the pitch as feasible. If the opposition got as far back as the goalkeeper, the forward trio, with the help of the midfield, would block all passing lanes and force them to go long or risk the ball being stolen.

The striker was usually the first to commence the press in a 4-1-4-1 configuration, followed by a midfield quartet or one of the wingers, depending on which side the ball was on. As a result, the pressing formation would shift to a 4-4-2 with two men upfront and a congested midfield. Napoli, on the other hand, if pushed back, would do the same but in a more compact shape. 

Observe how they keep their distances between themselves small, forcing their opponents to spread out and making it harder to penetrate the block. Sarriball was, in general, an offensive tactic in Serie A that resulted in a lot of goals, especially for Napoli but also for the opponents. The 2017/18 season is still a bit of an outlier, as Sarri is likely to have achieved his top in terms of attacking and defending.

Maurizio Sarri has taken Juventus to the Serie A title and


to the Europa League, but his time at Napoli, where Sarriball became so well-known, is where he will be remembered. Napoli may not have won any trophies for their outstanding performances, but they were so highly regarded that Pep Guardiola called them "maybe the best side I've faced in my career." "I'm head over heels in love with Napoli."

Maurizio Sarri Tactics at Chelsea

When Maurizio Sarri came, a lot was expected of him. When

Antonio Conte

fled the crime scene, he left it in the wreckage, and it was up to the new man to pick up the pieces. It appeared like a relationship made in heaven at first.

Maurizio Sarri tactics at Chelsea

were Sarriball, and Sarriball is a process, as much as it sounds like making excuses. It's also a case of "what you see is what you get," since Sarri is unlikely to adjust his approach.

The Italian brought Jorginho with him, and the components were in place to carry on the Sarriball tradition. Sarri used a similar strategy and 4-3-3 formation at Chelsea as he did at Napoli. Eden Hazard attacked infield as their left-sided attacker, while Marcos Alonso or Emerson Palmieri provided overlaps from left-back.

While Cesar Azpilicueta backed Pedro, Willian, or Callum Hudson-Odoi on the right flank, he was more restrained than Alonso and Emerson in an attempt to offer a stronger defensive balance and support ties into midfield around Jorginho, their defensive midfielder.

Their key ball player was the influential Jorginho; one central midfielder usually retreated into the deeper territory to support him. The third central midfielder moved forwards behind the striker, who remained in the advanced region when necessary. 

N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Ross Barkley all started ahead of Jorginho in central midfield, preferring to advance through the right inside channel to give Hazard more attacking freedom, during a season in which the Belgian produced some of his best work between the lines and between full-back and central defender.

Napoli, under Sarri, used a very intense press that matched Chelsea's in structure.

Gonzalo Higuain

, and Mertens, pressed the in-control center of defense across the pitch, attempting to aim their pressure wide to prevent play changes and push possession to one side of the pitch.

If opponents switch play via aerial balls, the applicable wide forward reacts by pressing infield aggressively and engaging as their most advanced defender. 

The goalkeeper must be secure and confident with the ball at his feet to provide an anchor point for the team in Sarri's game style. He must be able to pass with both feet and be accessible as a passing option.

Sarri also needs center-backs who can bring the ball out and build plays. This served two purposes: it provided a safe pass option and safeguarded the squad if the ball was lost. In attack, Sarri prefers his sides to create maximum breadth and depth.

At Manchester City,

Pep Guardiola

has utilized maximum width to significant effect. Sarri also employs the concept of lanes, with Davide Zappacosta moving to the outside lane if Pedro, for example, cuts in. For the opposing winger, this created diagonal passing choices and dilemmas.

The Journey of Maurizio Sarri Tactics at Juventus

Maurizio Sarri tactics at Juventus

were rooted in modern football. Maurizio Sarri announced his appointment as Juventus manager on June 18, 2019.

Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea tenure did not begin as smoothly as the Italian manager had hoped. But that didn't stop the former Napoli midfielder from earning a job with Serie A's premier team, Juventus. Maurizio Sarri's Juventus have stayed at the top of the table for the entire 2019-20 season, just as you'd expect, and they've maintained their standing as one of Europe's premier teams precisely where Massimo Allegri left off. However, under Maurizio Sarri, Juventus has been a completely different team this season, employing methods that set them apart from any other team in the globe.

The adoption of a 4-4-2 Diamond system of play, which functions mostly as a 4-3-1-2, is one of the most intriguing aspects of Maurizio Sarri's


. The Old Lady's system of play isn't typical in today's game, but it has worked wonders for them in 2019-20, allowing them to get the most out of numerous key players.

Maurizio Sarri tactics at Juventus like any other squad was flawless; his Juventus' flaws have been possession-based 4-3-1-2 formation. With the support of Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic, the back four has remained quite constant and spends a good amount of time on the ball, rotating the ball from left to right and looking for the appropriate moments to play forward.

Pjanic serves as a screen in front of the back four and looks to guard the opposition's #'10' and stop through-balls to the opposition striker when the team is in possession. Blaise Matuidi maintains his position on the left side of central midfield, as he did for PSG and France before joining Juve, while a number of players compete for a slot on the right side. Maurizio Sarri has employed the 4-3-1-2 system at Empoli and on rare occasions at Napoli in the past.

But his preferred formation has always seemed to be the 4-3-3, with his teams' dynamic and creative wingers serving as the main source of offensive flair. At Juventus, Sarri could easily play a 4-3-3 with Ronaldo and

Paulo Dybala

on the wings and Higuain up top. Sarri on the other hand, has put his faith in Ronaldo to go forward and be The Old Lady's primary man, with Dybala acting as his winger in the attack.

Some would argue that this formation was also unnecessary due to an injury to Douglas Costa and a lack of flashy wingers who aren't already serving as fullbacks, such as Juan Cuadrado. Regardless of how it came to be, the 4-3-1-2 has worked exceptionally well for Juventus and their players this season. From his time at Empoli to Napoli to Chelsea, we've seen many different forms of Sarriball. 

Sarriball evolved once more at Juventus. The rapid, vertical build-up with the one-touch play has stayed mostly unchanged. Pjanic's function as a number six, spreading the ball left to right, especially to the two fullbacks, has been a feature of Sarriball and its prior iterations with Jorginho. One of the biggest contrasts between today's Sarriball and Sarriball in the past is how vertical Juventus has gotten.

When there were no wingers, Dybala on the right and Matuidi on the left were normally the widest players. The players wanted to play in and around their midfield diamond in possession, with Aaron Ramsey a vital element in their vertical possession. Ramsey's placement between the lines was a particular issue for Juventus, regardless of the opposition. As a result of his ability to attract the ball, defenders from the opposing team are drawn to him.

Paulo Dybala was the primary guy for Juventus before

Cristiano Ronaldo

arrived, and his goals and assists figures plummeted dramatically after Ronaldo arrived. However, whenever Juventus played, Dybala's presence was palpable. 

His technique and ability on the ball were insane, and he must have learned it from Diego Maradona's academy in Argentina. He was the ideal counter-balance to Ronaldo's desire to be on the ball at all times. Dybala allowed him to do so, and he did not need to be the club's, big man. As Blaise Matuidi or Aaron Ramsey drive forward, he drops deep to take up the ball and play short one-twenty.

This would free up room for Juventus’ two most dangerous players, Ronaldo and Dybala, to find space and create chances in front of goal. Although Juventus and Sarriball appeared to be very different from what we've seen from Sarri at his previous clubs, the Old Lady remained in the first place and have appeared nearly unstoppable in all competitions.

The relationship of Ronaldo and Dybala up front, as well as the verticality of their possession thanks to the midfield quartet they have at their disposal, has proven crucial to their attack. They used a similar verticality in defense, staying compact and pressing their opponents to the perimeter.

All About Maurizio Sarri Tactics at Lazio

Lazio struggled for long stretches of the previous season, despite making a title threat and reaching the UEFA Champions League for the first time in five years. Simone Inzaghi, the Biancocelesti's head coach, believed he had brought the team as far as he could. When Antonio Conte quit as Internazionale's manager, Inzaghi was named as his replacement.

A few days later, the Italian press revealed that Lazio had decided on Inzaghi's replacement, and Maurizio Sarri, the former Chelsea and Juventus manager, took leadership of the Italian club on June 9. Suddenly everyone was talking about

Maurizio Sarri tactics at Lazio

, with several of his former players speaking out against the 62-year-old. It was also suggested that the manager had a falling out with Cristiano Ronaldo during his time in Turin, raising questions about the coach's ability to manage his players.

However, what cannot be questioned is his ability to get the most out of the squad at his disposal while also playing a very appealing brand of football. Lazio will be one of the most exciting teams in Serie A this season, and they will face Empoli on Saturday.

Sarri generally always uses a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-3-3 configuration; thus,


has seen a minor change in the formation and overall set-up. The Italian preferred the 4-3-1-2 formation at Juventus, but he also used the 4-3-3 and 4-4-2.

Because of the personnel in the Juventus team, the coach used the 4-3-1-2 formation in Turin. Sarri believed that a modest structural modification to a two-striker style was best because the Bianconeri had a lot of really talented midfield players but not enough wide players.

There was speculation that the ex-Napoli manager might stick with this formation, but he has used the 4-3-3/4-1-4-1 formation in all of Lazio's pre-season games so far, so this appears to be the team's set-up going ahead. This is most likely the starting lineup for Lazio against Empoli this weekend. The goalkeeping position is still up for grabs within the squad.

Elseid Hysaj, Francesco Acerbi, Luiz Felipe, and Manuel Lazzari are likely to start in the back four, with

Lucas Leiva

as the lone '6' and Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as the two '8s' in the midfield. When Lazio has the ball, Sarri will attempt to incorporate his positional play concepts into their game.

When his sides use the 4-3-3 formation, Sarri wants his three midfielders to stagger and position themselves in different field sections to stretch the opposition vertically. 

This generates gaps in the opponent's high-press, which can be exploited by neat, crisp, and precise passing. Sarri wants his teams to play through the opposition in the central zones; thus, Leiva will facilitate this for the Biancocelesti.

Sarri wants his team to play through the opposition centrally in one of two ways. He was using the up-back-through passing pattern, for starters. Maurizio Sarri still has his job cut out for him after witnessing two of Lazio's pre-season games, the only two available on Wyscout. While the plan is apparent, Lazio are still rough around the edges, and only additional minutes on the field and in the gym will help them get to where Sarri wants them to be.

For example, on average, Lazio only had 40% ball possession versus Twente, which is extraordinarily low for a team aiming to play a possession-oriented system. Regardless, the Biancocelesti are shaping up to be one of the most exciting sides to watch in Serie A this season, and as the season develops, Sarri should begin to see the system he wants forming on the field.

Important Thing about Maurizio Sarri Tactics at Napoli: Smoking Sarriball

let your hair down, this is the story of

Maurizio Sarri tactics

. 'Sarriball' or 'Sarrismo', is a fast-paced, possession-based attacking football style that is sometimes compared to a vertical tiki-taka.

Sarriball, like Pep Guardiola's Barcelona style of play, emphasizes short and rapid passes aiming to get the ball as far up the pitch as feasible as quickly as possible. The new Chelsea manager continues this strategy by pushing the ball out from his backline and relying heavily on his defenders to keep possession of the ball to launch the initial offensive threat.

The initial instigators of the attack are Sarri's defenders, as evidenced by his deployment of defender

Kalidou Koulibaly

at Napoli last season, whose passing and ball control was crucial to the Italian side's title push. Sarriball is essentially a high-pressing style of play (not to be confused with Jurgen Klopp's Gegenpressing) that causes defenders to make mistakes, which the attack subsequently punishes.

A Conclusion on Maurizio Sarri Tactics

Maurizio Sarri has won trophies in each of his previous two seasons, including the Europa League with Chelsea and Juventus. Still, neither was enough to save his job, and it appears like the next chapter of Sarri's career, and thus the next chapter for Sarriball, may not belong in coming. In fact, all the success in the club can sum up in Maurizio Sarri tactics at Chelsea.

When Sarri was at Chelsea, the most significant change to the team's system was the switch from a back three to a back four, effectively displacing Conte's more evenly favored combination.

Cesar Azpilicueta

has been promoted to full-back, while Marcos Alonso and Davide Zappacosta's roles have been switched.

Sarriball necessitates tactical and physical preparation, and Sarri's players continue to be tested to be associated with the new attacking philosophy. In Sarri's presence in Lazio, whoever players arrive, Sarri's Lazio will be exciting to watch, and his style of positional play will almost certainly have Lazio fans turning in to see their club.

Sarri needs a few role-specific acquisitions, but if he can obtain them, his philosophy combined with some of Lazio's best players will see them contend for Champions League spots in his first season. Following that, they'll go for their first league title since 2000.

After all, why not? Sarri drew international attention with his play at Napoli, then went on to win trophies at Chelsea and Juventus. There is still a long way to go, but Lazio have hired a coach with the X-factor they require to dream of a Scudetto once more. 

Throughout this examination, we've looked at the essence of Sarriball and broken it down into its essential foundations, which include verticality, flexibility, and circuits. Sarriball was a tremendously appealing style at Napoli, and it was continued in a similar form at Chelsea and Juventus, though on a more uneven basis. So there you have it! Chelsea’s

Maurizio Sarri tactics

are well explained.

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