Maurizio Sarri expected tonight’s Europa League clash against FC Midtjylland to be a test of Lazio’s maturity.
All four teams in Group F are tied on five points after four games, leaving everything to fight for with two games left to play. Lazio fell to an incredibly painful 5-1 loss to Midtjylland in their meeting last month, so they’ll be desperate to take revenge and put one foot in the Round of 16 of the competition.
Speaking in a press conference (via La Lazio Siamo Noi), Sarri first discussed what he expects from this evening’s clash against Midtjylland.
Matches like the one against Atalanta can give something or take something away, it depends on our mentality. If we are mature they give us something. If we are not fully mature they can also take away from us.
He tried to explain why the results look so different in Serie A and the Europa League.
The European path is conditioned by a bad game, for the rest we didn’t make big mistakes. We then drew in Austria, in the return leg the red card conditioned us.
Salzburg is considered a great team in the media, Sturm Graz, who are only one point behind Salzburg in the league, are not. It’s difficult to make an assessment on the cup, it’s putting us in a difficult situation with that bad match.
The Lazio coach touched on if the 5-1 loss gives the squad extra motivation and the importance of Matias Vecino.
Mentally strong teams always have great motivation. The match in Bergamo can also be source of motivation, because it took place in a full stadium, against a team we feared, it brought out the best in us.
Vecino is a complete player, he has insertion, physicality, gives a hand in defence, all with good quality. We were convinced he could give us something that we might lack due to his characteristics.
Sarri spoke about the style of play on offer and what needs to happen to take a step up in Europe.
Napoli and Milan are already great in Italy, they are becoming so in Europe. Lazio still have to become great in Italy, then we’ll see.
Only Stum Graz did 2% better than us on the running, the others did worse. Chelsea are my team that ran the least, they had great acceleration but less stamina. Three Italian teams go over 30km/h, in England it’s 14.
There they play with the two balls the referees come in with, that’s all they need. In England they have devastating acceleration, that’s why they impress.
He commented on if Felipe Anderson would play centrally whilst Matteo Cancellieri is out wide.
It depends on the type of match we face. Cancellieri has Felipe’s speed, he has important accelerations, as a wide player he still doesn’t have Felipe’s order.
He has to be assessed from match to match, nothing is predetermined. Then, in the rotation, Romero might also come in.
The Lazio coach reflected on the second yellow card shown to Manuel Lazzari in the last European outing.
We were facing a referee who shouldn’t have been there, he compromised a fair match. A referee who has no qualification to be international, I think it was accidental.
Sarri discussed how much fun he’s having working with this Lazio squad.
I have fun during training, that’s already a good sign. The sense of fun is contagious, if the players do it on the pitch they also transmit it to the fans.
That’s important, I think having a sense of fun and passing it on helps you get the result. Let’s hope we continue like this, let’s hope that everything turns into enthusiasm and not euphoria.
He touched on the team’s defensive solidity this season.
The tactical aspect is always conditioned by attitude. If you are perfect, but you are cold, sooner or later the problems come to the surface. The attitude of not wanting to concede is clearly growing.
I also think of Zaccagni snatching the ball on the counter-attack, Felipe and Pedro continually coming back, that’s the best sign. I don’t think it’s a question of defenders, but of the active participation of the whole team. Whether this will last or not will be told by the next games.
He gave his thoughts on the condition of the Stadio Olimpico pitch.
It worries me, because in the short term it is a problem that is difficult to solve. The match in Bergamo on a snooker table is not repeatable for our way of playing, it’s no small thing. Then there are other ways of playing that I don’t manage, it must be my limit.
Finally, Sarri discussed the condition of Luis Alberto and if the team will enter a training camp during the World Cup break.
His hip was hurting, it’s not like he had a stroke. Yesterday he did everything, it was not indicative as training. We’ll see today the pain, it’s not serious, it’s just a pain that prevented him from training well.
On the training camp somewhere we’ll have to do it, hopefully not in Argentina, it’s madness from a technical point of view. We’re going back to play at the beginning of January in cold temperatures.
To go on training camp in 30 degrees, 15 hours of travel and the jet lag means you have two to three days of travel and others to absorb the jet lag. I hope that doesn’t happen.