Maurizio Sarri is expecting a tough game against Vidi and he thinks it could play out quite differently to our hard-fought October victory against the same opposition.
Speaking at the Groupama Arena after touching down in the Hungarian capital Budapest, Sarri also answered questions on Gary Cahill, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu, and he reported the latest injury news, too.
But before attention turned to the match tomorrow, the boss was asked for his reaction to the Raheem Sterling incident on Saturday.
‘First of all I want to say I condemn any form of discrimination,’ Sarri said.
‘I think I have to stop here because there is an investigation, and so I think it’s better not to say anything more. But of course my opinion is that I condemn every sort of discrimination.’
We beat Vidi 1-0 in October and they currently sit third in our group, level on points with BATE Borisov in second
‘For us it’s a very difficult match for us to prepare because we don’t have a material target. The last match [against Vidi] was really very difficult because they defended very well, with low density. it was difficult for us to score. Maybe tomorrow will be a different match because they are fighting for qualification and I think they need to win.’
Sarri updated the journalists on who hadn’t travelled and who is injured
‘I don’t know the starting XI. I decided the players who played three matches in six days in the last week had to rest for this match: Kepa, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Kante and Hazard.
‘Then we have three injuries: Kovacic, Cahill and Moses. All the other players are here.’
Sarri assessed the prospects of two of his younger players, Hudson-Odoi and Ampadu
‘Tomorrow we have three 2000-born players in the 18. Maybe Hudson-Odoi will be on the pitch, Ampadu is in the 18, maybe he will be on the pitch because Cahill is injured.
‘I don’t think in Manchester City or Manchester United or the other big teams there are 2000-born players with a lot of minutes. To play in these teams is really very difficult, but I hope in the future there will be a chance for Callum and Ampadu.
‘It’s up to them. Hudson-Odoi played in the Community Shield in August, he has played two matches in the Europa League. Tomorrow maybe he will be on the pitch. That is four opportunities. They only have to play very well in these opportunities, and for the moment Hudson-Odoi did it, and now I am looking forward to Ampadu doing it. He is a very good player.
‘They both have a very important future. They both have to improve every day in every way from a physical and tactical point of view. Technically they are very good.’
Sarri was also asked about Gary Cahill’s future amid media speculation he might leave in January
‘I respect him very much. He has won everything with this club. I have to respect him, then I have to do my job. For every match I have to choose, and for me it’s not easy to put him on the bench.
‘Maybe he is the best of our defenders inside the box, but I have to think our CBs usually play about 100 or 110 balls in a match, so I need very technical defenders.
‘It’s not my decision. It is up to him and the club, because he is in his last year of contract so he has to decide for a new contract here or with another club.
‘You know for over-30s the club usually offers only one-year contracts. If he has an offer of three years [from elsewhere] he can decide on something else. It doesn’t depend on whether I am sentimental or not!’