Maurizio Sarri expects a good showing from his Lazio squad in their season opener against Bologna and he hit back at Roma coach Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese coach suggested in his pre-match press conference yesterday that the Giallorossi shouldn’t be considered favourites because of their summer transfer window, highlighting how the Biancocelesti spent more.
Speaking in a press conference (via LazioNews24), Sarri first discussed the conditions of his Lazio squad ahead of their season opener against Bologna.
The first game is always difficult. Then we’re facing a team that always puts us in difficulty. I expect a Lazio that are already at an acceptable level.
It’s hard to know where we are at, but I see that we are struggling a bit more to assimilate the workloads. However, in this last week I have seen more brilliance.
He touched on the difficulties of the 2022-23 season.
The season can be crazier than I expect. Just see that tomorrow we play at 6:30 pm in the middle of August. Everything is being done in Italy not to sell our product.
The Italian coach commented on the team’s goals heading into the new campaign.
We have changed so much, but our goal is to be competitive. I’m convinced that we have potential, but we have to become a team. If we succeeded we could do something important.
There was a need to rejuvenate and now we have to restart a cycle. It can help us, however, that a base is left.
Sarri reflected on Lazio’s work in the summer transfer window.
I like what we did this summer. It has its own logic and is within the size of this team. We cannot buy top players and we need alternative path. We did it right, but now the pitch will speak.
Pressure? Absolutely not. I have made requests in line with what the clubs afford.
He touched on the battle for a starting spot in goal.
I haven’t made up my mind. Maximiano has been working with us longer. Provedel has fit well into the squad. It will be the pitch that will tell us who will play more, but throughout the season both will find their space.
The Lazio coach responded to the jab from Mourinho in his press conference.
We didn’t spend, we invested. They’re the ones who spent. I thank Jose for the trust, but I’d say that Roma finishing second would be disappointing for me.
He provided an update on Spanish midfielder Luis Alberto, who recently handed in a transfer request.
The first training sessions after the break, he wasn’t very good. He had a bit of a complicated week. The rest you know. He communicated to me his desire to return to Spain.
Certainly he was partly conditioned by this afterthought. The team made themselves available, but the possibilities weren’t there. I, however, have seen him focused in the last few days.
He also spoke about fellow star midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
I’ve seen him struggling a bit physically, but that’s normal for someone with his size. For a couple of games we should help him, but then he will help the team.
Sarri discussed Lazio’s need to pick up a new left back.
A natural left-back would guarantee us something extra, both from the point of view of pushing and covering.
We’ll see how the situation evolves, but we’ve had a year with a right back on the left. We could do with another one as well.
He spoke about the Biancocelesti fans and their support.
I’m happy with the response of the fans and we hope to repay them. The Lazio fans are much better than how they’re portrayed around Italy. I take comfort in the fact that we will find the stadium as we left it against Verona.
Finally, Sarri gave his thoughts on Brazilian midfielder Marcos Antonio.
He is different from Leiva. He has great ability to handle the ball. In the defensive phase he is there and he is present, but it has to be evaluated how much he can hold up in a midfield with Luis Alberto and Milinkovic-Savic.
It will be the pitch that will give us the answers though.