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Maurizio Sarri explains Gonzalo Higuain absence, discusses ‘dangerous match’ tomorrow and reveals pitch concerns

Maurizio Sarri says we cannot afford to take anything for granted in Kiev on a playing surface he labelled a ‘disaster’.

The boss oversaw a training session at the Olympic Stadium after arriving in the Ukrainian capital and was not happy at the state of the pitch, but he stressed to the media when asked that it shouldn’t detract from the task ahead of us. We take a three-goal lead into tomorrow night’s Europa League last 16 second leg, and Sarri is adamant complacency must not set in.

‘Mentally it’s a very difficult match, because we can undervalue the opponent,’ the boss stressed.

‘I know very well they are dangerous. I saw their other matches in the Europa League and they played very good football. They played very well in the last match here against Olympiakos.

‘So it’s a very dangerous match for us. We need to go on the pitch with the target to win the match, not to qualify, otherwise we will be in trouble. Our target is to win the match, and qualification will be a consequence.’

Read: Chelsea squad arrive in Kiev

Sarri did not hold back when asked what he thought of the playing surface

‘A disaster. The pitch is not good, I think it’s really dangerous. It will be very difficult to play good football here at this moment, and I think it’s dangerous for injuries, but we have to accept the situation and play on this pitch. There isn’t another solution.

‘I don’t understand why UEFA give so much attention to everything, like the players’ list, and then we have to play on such a bad pitch. It will also be very difficult for Dynamo. It’s a problem for us but also for our opponents.

‘I don’t know the reason, probably winter, because I played here two years ago and the pitch was wonderful.’

Gonzalo Higuain has not travelled to Kiev and Sarri explained why

‘He had a fever after the league match for two days. Yesterday in the evening with the doctor we decided to leave him at home in order to recover him for the next match.’

Sarri wants any of his young players who feature tomorrow, which might include Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu, to show they are in good form

‘I have a lot of players of course. I know very well for you Hudson-Odoi is the best, for me I want to see all of them at the same level. Hudson-Odoi is doing very well in the last period, he will be in the list of 18 for sure, maybe on the pitch, I don’t know at this moment.

‘I want to send to my team the message the match is very important. I don’t want to make a mistake in this. In the last match Hudson-Odoi was the first change so you know very well he is in mind for every match.’

Sarri was also asked if Zinedine Zidane being reappointed Real Madrid manager made a difference to Eden Hazard’s future

‘I don’t know, you have to ask Hazard. I didn’t speak with Eden about Zidane so I don’t know. I am not worried because you know very well my opinion. I only want players in my team who want to play for Chelsea, so I cannot be worried.’

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