Maurizio Sarri tried to find the silver lining after Lazio’s miserable 2-2 draw with Lecce, calling on the fans to stay positive in the final stages of this season.
The Biancocelesti were hoping to bounce back with a win after their painful 2-0 loss to Milan last week, but were unable to show their usual qualities at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday now, allowing the Puglian side to take a 2-1 lead early into the second half.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic allowed Lazio to save face with a last second equaliser, a goal that could prove to be crucial in the race for a top four finish. An Inter win over Sassuolo would see them leapfrog the Biancocelesti in the league table, keeping things tense in the Champions League race.
Speaking in a press conference (via La Lazio Siamo Noi), Sarri first discussed Lazio’s draw with Lecce and if he’s feeling worried.
I was more worried on Saturday after Milan, when I saw a team switched off. Today I saw negative moments, we can’t concede a goal like the first with twenty seconds left in the first half.
You can’t come back like that from the locker room in the second half, overwhelmed by that moment, and comfortably put them ahead. Then I saw a vehement reaction, the feeling was that we could have won it if we had found the equaliser earlier.
The inertia was clearly on our side. I saw signs. I saw Immobile and Milinkovic-Savic much better than in recent performances. They are players who if we recover fully can give us a big hand for these last three games.
The management of certain moments has never been our strong point, tonight this came out clearly, but I also saw negative aspects that could give us extreme confidence. And then let’s not forget that a point taken like that at the end could also be serious stuff.
He touched on the absence of Danilo Cataldi and the inclusion of Marcos Antonio.
This is the reason why I have been telling you for a year that Marcos is a good player but that I have great difficulty in getting him to play. If I had a choice, Marcos, with these two inside players, I would never play him.
It’s a midfield that at this moment has great dribbling, also great quality, but for characteristics it is not well amalgamated.
But with a bit of guile and venom we could have come through anyway. In my opinion we also had some good moments, comparable to those with Sassuolo.
The Lazio coach was asked to review the work of referee Fabio Maresca.
I don’t know what to tell you about the incidents. I thought it was a foul on Basic, but it was obviously outside the area. I like Maresca, but when they lose the game in terms of minutes it bothers me.
In the Premier League you don’t see these things, although in England the referees are clearly poorer.
Then you talk about the difference between Italian football and foreign football, I did a year in the Premier League and a team that allowed itself to do something like that has never been seen, also because the referees don’t allow it.
Sarri sent a message to the fans after their negative response to the result.
This is a game that also gives us signals that we can come out of a delicate moment. We were not as flat as in Milan, that was a signal. Hopefully this is a good signal.
I’d say the same things to the fans that I said to the team, we can’t afford to concede goals like the first one and we can’t afford to be so negative going into the second half. Negativity is the one thing we don’t need.
We must understand that it won’t be easy to get out of this situation, but we must also have the positivity to understand that we are at this point to play for something important.
He spoke about the top four race this season.
For us not getting into the Champions League would not be a failure. We were not predicted by anyone to be in the Champions League this year. For someone else it may be a failure to stay out of the top four, but not for us.
That’s the reality. If someone says bullsh*t, it doesn’t concern me. We have strengths and weaknesses. We know that we can also stay out. But we’re there and at this point we’re in the game.
Finally, Sarri was asked about the fact that more fans are attending his games than in prior years under Claudio Lotito.
A fanbase that deserves the Champions League, everyone would love to give it to them. We’re trying, they’re helping us. The stadium in recent times is important stuff. I defend the team on a public level if I want to get some message across.
When I talk to you, I don’t care about you, the messages are aimed at them. The important thing is Lazio.
You have to fall in love with the people who work at Formello, with Olympia, with the fans, then there’s the day when you see the shirt and you identify with it.
The best thing that can happen in this job is to feel part of the environment.