Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi was excited about the appointment of Maurizio Sarri and believed that the Azzurri could go far in Euro 2020.

Speaking to gathered reporters in a press conference today (via La Lazio Siamo Noi), the 33-year-old Italian defender first spoke about if he will replace Giorgio Chiellini in the starting 11 against Switzerland on Wednesday.

We all know Chiellini, he’s a great defender and a great person. He’s strong, he’s really strong. It’s normal, you always have to learn from him. He’s his age but he’s holding up well.

He had a great game, like everyone else. Even in the qualifiers I substituted him; whoever plays has always done well, I always keep myself ready.

Everyone here wants to play, give their contribution but the only goal is to go all the way.

He touched on the appointment of Maurizio Sarri, which was confirmed last week. The 62-year-old Italian coach was most recently in charge of Juventus, being replaced by Andrea Pirlo last year.

We are happy to have him. He’s a great coach; he’s won. I’m very enthusiastic also talking to Ciro and the others, I’m happy to have him as a coach.

There will be changes, it doesn’t matter, three or four at the back, no changes. Now I’m playing in a three but I’ve always played in a four.

I’m very happy playing in a back four. It will be a big test for us, for Sarri, but I’m sure we’ll have a great season.

The former Sassuolo man looked back at this season’s campaign and the work under coach Simone Inzaghi.

We had such a carefree mentality with Lazio that you went out and won 2-0. There was confidence, we played one game a week and won almost easily.

It’s the same here, since Mancini came here there’s enthusiasm, there’s something you can feel in the air.

You can taste it, the group is fantastic. We won a great game, we have six more to go to close out the best. Difficulties will come but we are ready.

Acerbi discussed the areas in which the Azzurri squad can improve for this tournament.

In the moments of the match, in managing the game. But I can’t find any weak points in this team. There is always room for improvement, in all things. We have always won and deserved it. The defense has also conceded very few goals.

We’ll have to see later on, when we see the reaction against big teams. Mancini is right, in the details you need to be perfect in this tournament.

The coach has been the highlight of the national team because he has changed the mentality. He makes us feel good, he doesn’t put pressure on us and tells us to have fun. He has created a family.

He spoke about if he would change the Azzurri’s formation if he was the coach and his desire to play.

No, although I’d play with an extra player, me. Whoever plays does well and obviously everyone, including me even if I had Nesta or Maldini in front of me, wants to play.

But the goal is to get through the tournament. If I didn’t want to play, I’d have to change jobs. We finished our last game on the 23rd and we’re feeling pretty good.

These games are so important that you don’t feel tired. I’m desperate to play, but I’ve got the whole year behind me so it’s good to rest between games.

The Lazio defender spoke about some of the top forwards in this year’s tournament and which will come out on top.

Kane, Lukaku, Mbappé. There are big names that can leave their mark and maybe those who are less known can have a great European Championship.

I hope in Ciro, I hope in Belotti. Lukaku has had a great year, he is one of the candidates to have a great European Championship, he has a strong team and he is certainly one of the candidates.

Acerbi commented on the recent collapse of Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen in Saturday’s Euro 2020 match between Denmark and Finland.

We were on the pitch for the friendly against Pescara and everyone was looking at their mobile phones and there was silence…. The important thing is that he’s OK. It’s a sigh of relief.

But to see a young guy, an athlete, being watched by doctors, having an illness, a heart attack after a few minutes, is something that leaves you stunned. It leaves a mark. Such a young guy… These are things that shouldn’t happen, but they do, without a reason. That’s life.

The important thing is that he’s OK, thank God for that. I hope it’s nothing serious and that he’ll get back to smiling and playing. I wish him and his family and friends, who have been through some tough times, the best of luck.

He touched on the incredible leadership shown by AC Milan and Denmark defender Simon Kjaer.

Armband or not, being a man is important. You need that quickness, that lucidity, to see and protect a team-mate who is down. To rescue him. I thank him.

We all need to be like him, it shouldn’t be an accident, everyone should take example and do it. Thanks to the promptness of the doctors who arrived and did a great job.

They are doing things well. Congratulations to Simon.

The former Sassuolo man looked ahead to the Azzurri’s next opponents Switzerland and what they showed in their 1-1 draw against Wales.

I saw the game, they have an idea of the game, they have players like Embolo, Shaqiri.

Technical players, they have a coach who has been training Switzerland for years, they have an identity of play and a very good team, it will be difficult. We know their qualities but we will have a great game.

The Biancocelesti defender commented on the departure of coach Simone Inzaghi from Lazio recently and his decision to move to Inter.

He went to Inter, we thought he would find an agreement. I don’t know what happened and he went to Inter.

Good, good, I’m happy for him because we have a good relationship, he gave me a lot as I think I gave him and another great coach like Sarri arrived at Lazio.

In life one goes one way, one another, that’s football. We’ll see each other again during the season. I’m happy for Inzaghi but also for Sarri.

Finally, Acerbi spoke about Italy’s chances at this summer’s European Championship and which teams at the favourites.

There are teams better equipped than us. Italy can finish in the top positions. We hope to do something extraordinary with the group we have.

England have great players but, in the end, they have never won in recent years. They are still a great team, you have to pay attention to this type of team because they have players who can change the game from one moment to the next.


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