Sarri: ‘Feyenoord Are Dangerous, Europa League Is Nasty’

Maurizio Sarri underlined Lazio’s ambitions in Europe ahead of their tough Europa League opener against Feyenoord.

The Biancocelesti finished second in the group stages of the competition last year and were eliminated after losing a play-off round to Porto, who dropped down from the Champions League. Sarri has a strong history in Europe and won the Europa League during his year in England with Chelsea, something he’s keen to repeat in Rome.

Speaking in a press conference (via La Lazio Siamo Noi), Sarri first discussed Lazio’s ambitions heading into the competition.

We’re ambitious, without thinking about the long term. The first is to pass the group by avoiding the playoffs, they seem very tricky with the teams coming down from the Champions League.

Tomorrow’s match is very important on paper, but in Europe the matches are all very difficult.

He touched on if he plans to rotate the squad a little for the clash.

I have no interest in testing players. I see them every day, now we enter a phase where there is a stronger need for some changes.

The Lazio coach gave his thoughts on new arrival Matteo Cancellieri and whether he’s better suited as a winger or backup to Ciro Immobile.

He comes from a personal history in which he played as a winger, we also use him in that role. In training he tries more as a striker, he has an exceptional shot, he has strong acceleration, he is a guy who if he manages to fit into the role can also do well as a striker.

I have no great doubts about him.

He reflected on Lazio’s difficult 2-1 defeat to Napoli on the weekend.

What happened in these matches everyone saw, I as a coach have an obligation to defend my players, the club and the Lazio fans.

I’d do it again all my life, I think my lawyer will have a lot of work to do. But let’s talk about Europe, it’s better to change the subject.

Sarri discussed what kind of game he expects against Feyenoord and the growth of midfielder Danilo Cataldi.

In football there are often players who mature slower, Danilo is perhaps one of these. He is playing in a role that requires experience, if you don’t play 30-40 games in a row in that position it is difficult to be on the pitch in the right way.

He’s doing very well, he has to grow from a physical point of view, if he goes at high intensity he doesn’t last very long, but he seems to be growing in that respect too.

Feyenoord have good technical qualities, dribbling, they are dangerous. Behind Danilo, who is their striker and strong technically, they play three left-footed trequartistas of an excellent level.

They reached a European final, they started well, they are one step away from Ajax in the league. They have been doing well for a long time.

He touched on the importance of the Europa League to him and how last year went.

Last year we had a good group, it was difficult, it was decided at the last game, it was balanced. Unfortunately we didn’t win the last match.

Even with Porto we played good games, we’re not at a time of the season when we have to choose a competition, we have to do well everywhere.

The time to choose may be in March. But let’s hope to choose as late as possible, it would mean finishing at the bottom on several fronts.

Sarri spoke about if Matias Vecino could play as a regista in his three-man midfield.

He can do it, but it takes great experience and specificity. In some moments, like in the final moments with Napoli, there is less to dribble, he can do it for physicality and order.

But at the moment he’s a reserve in the match in progress.

He reflected on the second half of the defeat to Napoli and if that was due to fatigue.

Physically I don’t think we suffered, for the quality of the running it was higher against Napoli than against Inter.

There was a problem with distances, the runs were too long because of the low block, so the runs were wasteful and not very effective.

The Lazio coach commented on if the team are ready for closer battles this season compared to last.

I hope so, last year we paid more mentally than physically. It’s clear that Europe is an almost impossible event since we no longer play two matches in a month, but four this season.

The moments of relative rest are few and far between, the possibility of having a few more normal days to train is becoming more and more reduced.

You can’t play on Mondays, it never happened to us last year, even more so it won’t happen this season.

The Europa League is a much nastier competition than the Champions League from this point of view, whoever makes it plays on Friday or Saturday, then on Tuesday or Wednesday and the next one you come back with more rest available.

We mustn’t give ourselves excuses though, because in the end the ideal conditions in a season are there for four or five games. Then there are always problems.

Either the heat, or the cold, or the ankle, or the knee, it’s useless to think of excuses, we must concentrate on doing well in all conditions.

He commented on the importance of Europe for Lazio’s growth as a whole.

I also have an unbeaten record in Europe, I think it’s 23 games. Europe is always important, we do not take anything for granted, we are still in the mentality of being superior to foreign clubs, but the pitch doesn’t agree.

The Europeans get excited, the Italians a little less so. For the growth of a club and a fan base, doing well in Europe is fundamental.

Finally, Sarri spoke about the condition of his Lazio squad ahead of the clash.

I’m not worried, the physical data is top notch, it’s higher than last year’s data, when we ran almost more than anyone in Serie A. The intensity and running were quality. Now we have higher averages, we’re also improving in terms of acceleration and sprinting.

I think the legs are always at the disposal of the brain, the legs often depend on the head. Compared to last year we have to improve in mental performance. Romagnoli is fine, he had a routine check-up.

Tags Biancocelesti Europa League Feyenoord feyenoord vs lazio Italy Lazio lazio vs feyenoord Maurizio Sarri Rome Sarri Serie A UEFA

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