Maurizio Sarri was proud of his Lazio squad after their focused and mature performance in the 2-0 win over Monza.
The Biancocelesti managed to avoid the pitfalls of an ambitious Biancorossi with a clear game plan, going ahead after 13 minutes thanks to Pedro before doubling their lead with a wonderful free-kick from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic early in the second half.
It was an important win for Lazio, who are now looking confident of their chances of securing a top four finish as the final 10 games of this season approach.
Speaking in a press conference (via La Lazio Siamo Noi), Sarri first discussed the signs of consistency in his Lazio squad.
Yesterday I asked the group for maturity, to be able to understand the importance of the moment and to treasure past mistakes so as not to repeat them. The signs of maturity are coming. It was a serious game against a difficult opponent for everyone.
There are moments when Monza forces you to sacrifice, if you come without that spirit then you come out with no legs. They have many strong players, I’m happy that the team defended well for 80 minutes.
Then we became a bit passive, with more focus we would have done better at the end. I’m starting to like the path.
He touched on the tactical role and flexibility of Felipe Anderson.
He is one who guarantees us a serious and solid alternative, even if it is completely different from Immobile. Felipe’s interpretation of the role is to be studied, when you find teams that look for references on the man for others it becomes difficult.
He takes you by wide routes or through the midfield. You have to be happy, I’ve seen 25 good minutes of Ciro, it seems to me that physically he’s coming out well.
The Biancocelesti coach commented on Milinkovic-Savic’s strong performance and free-kick goal.
It seems to me that he has a different path to the team today. He suffered at the beginning, then he had a great second half. He’s growing, if he continues like this he’ll give us a big hand in the final stages of the season.
Sarri touched on his team’s ability to keep another clean sheet.
Yes, but let’s keep it small. We’ve taken defenders of an excellent level, suited to playing like this, the whole team has much more participation and awareness. It’s not that we can think of never conceding a goal, but the feeling that we are tough now is there.
It’s the result of the characteristics of the players, the work on the pitch and the defensive mentality that has grown from the whole team.
He discussed his happiness and long term goals with Lazio.
In football, clauses leave time to be found. Except that on the new contract the clause is no longer there. If someone no longer wants to stay at a club it is difficult to keep him, even more so if he is a coach.
I have a contract for another two years, I feel good at Lazio, I feel part of them. They made me feel important. If nothing sensational happens, the project is long term, I want to stop coaching at Lazio.
Lazio is strange, from the outside you don’t realise, from the inside Lazio invades you instead.
The 63-year-old Italian coach reviewed his team’s performance against Monza.
I had the feeling and the fear that their two trequartisti could be triggered between the lines, that they could be a problem. Instead we absorbed them well throughout the match, the defensive line also has to say thanks to Cataldi, who did an inhuman job.
He was sliding great depending on where the ball was. Then he paid for it in the final because he started to go into reverse. It was something I was afraid of.
Finally, Sarri provided an update on talismanic striker Ciro Immobile.
We talked about it and decided together last night. Usually whoever comes from an injury I always start him, so then I decide when to take him off.
He seemed calm last night, even though he told me he’d only done five training sessions. So I told him, ‘let’s do the opposite, go in after 15 minutes of the second half so the pace is lower’.