Maurizio Sarri highlighted the need to stay focused and wary in this evening’s Europa League clash against FC Midtjylland.
The Biancocelesti got off to a strong start in Europe last week, securing an electric 4-2 win over Feyenoord, and they’re keen to follow that up with a strong result against their Danish opposition today. A 2-0 win against Hellas Verona on the weekend allowed them to maintain their energy, key as they prepare for another difficult game.
Speaking in a press conference (via La Lazio Siamo Noi), Sarri first discussed the qualities of today’s opposition Midtjylland.
This year they had a slower start to the league than in previous years, but they are a team that has been around in Europe for years. Last year they drew in Bergamo in the Champions League, not an easy result as we know very well.
This year they lost the playoff final against Benfica, they are used to such matches. They have insidious forwards, when they stay inside the game they can have great pace and aggressiveness, putting any opponent in trouble.
Humility is a must, as is the personality of trying to lead the game without ever giving them the feeling that they can lead it.
He commented on if he plans to rotate the squad a little for the European clash.
We changed more in the league than in the cup. It’s clear that some changes have to be made, because here we’re facing two months in which the boys will play every other day. I heard someone say on television that the teams will now have time to work.
But nothing is true, they all go to the national team, but they will also play a game every three days in the national team. In these two months the boys will be subjected to an impressive number of games. It’s survival spirit, it’s not turnover.
It comes naturally, as I’ve always thought, it’s useless to plan. You have to travel by sight, those who are tired stay out, those who are well will play without posing many problems. So it’s likely that the rotations will continue.
He remembered facing Midtjylland during his time with Napoli.
Of their current line-up I think at the time there was only Pione Sisto. Small stadium, but usually in Europe they fill it, so the sounding board of the stadium is like one of the big ones. A proper football stadium.
Sarri gave his thoughts on goalkeeper Luis Maximiano, who has fallen out of favour in place of Ivan Provedel.
Provedel has done well and the physical exertion of the goalkeeper is lower. At this moment in time also changing the goalkeeper in a defence that has already changed three players seemed too much.
The time will come for everyone, even in the last three games 19 different players have played. The time will also come for the other two goalkeepers.
Now the choice is due to not changing 80% of the department. We tried to have him continue as he was the one at the least risk of physical strain.
The Lazio coach discussed the team’s mental growth over the last 12 months.
It’s measured over the long term. I have a good feeling because in training I see them holding levels of application and concentration with more stability than last year.
But it’s useless to talk right now, we haven’t even done a month of activity, the answer will come to us with time.
Sarri underlined his happiness with new signing Matteo Cancellieri, who has made a few brief appearances this season.
He’s quite well, he doesn’t have any pain in his muscle as we thought he might be on Sunday. He’s training regularly, he’s finding space. He comes into every game. He has much more space than he had at Verona at the same stage of the season.
I’m happy, it’s clear that we’re doing a double run with him and this could be a problem for him, because it could slow him down in both roles instead of speeding him up by focusing on one role.
Right now we need him in two positions, let’s see if he will start or come in. But in short, he’s always taken into consideration.
He touched on the differences between this Lazio side and the Napoli team that faced Midtjylland a few years ago.
It’s a team with different characteristics to Napoli. That was a team more of dribblers, this one also has that quality but tends to go more vertical. And they tend to dribble less and take off immediately to go straight towards the goal.
I hope this team has lots of room for improvement, for growth, I hope it can become as strong as Napoli… with some trophies to win.
The 63-year-old Italian coach provided an update on the injured players in the squad.
Pedro trained with us this morning, he seems to be recovering. Zaccagni we left him at home because he needs therapy and we have the equipment at Formello.
Basic is with us because he doesn’t need special therapies, but if the situation is like this morning I don’t think he can make it.
Finally, Sarri commented on the importance of the fans’ support.
We know very well that we’re still not a team ready for the ultimate goals, but so do our fans. There is no air of responsibility.
This love they make us feel around is nice, it gives us the feeling of belonging to something. It makes us feel more like a group and with a sense of belonging.