Maurizio Sarri looked forward to what he expects to be a difficult assignment against Slavia Prague tomorrow and he also considered whether Eden Hazard will start the Europa League quarter-final first leg.
Upon arriving in Czech Republic, the boss headed straight to the Eden Arena in the east of Prague and spoke to local journalists as well as those who have travelled from the UK.
Sarri was keen to focus on the football in the wake of off-pitch news this week, and he started by highlighting the threat our Czech opponents will pose.
‘We need to be careful because this is a very dangerous match for us,’ Sarri said.
‘They are very dangerous. They scored six goals in two matches against Sevilla. We need to be very compact and to defend very well. Especially on crosses they attack the box with five or six players, and they are dangerous on counter-attacks. It won’t be easy for us.’
Sarri was asked if Eden Hazard would start tomorrow
‘I don’t know. Yesterday he had only recovery training in the gym. I didn’t see him. This morning he was a little bit tired, like the other players who played 90 minutes [on Monday]. I want to wait until tomorrow morning’s session and then I will decide, but of course we have to play after three days in Liverpool.
‘Slavia played on Saturday, we played on Monday, I don’t know why. Tomorrow we will have to change five or six players.’
Sarri spoke about trying to become the best team in Europe with Hazard in his team
‘It’s very difficult to say if he is the best, but he is one of the best. Our dream must be to become the best team in Europe, not [for him] to change team.’
Regarding Danny Drinkwater’s lack of playing time this season, Sarri said the midfielder has been aware of the situation since the summer
‘As he knows very well, he has never played because in my opinion he is not suitable to my system and my way of playing. I told him everything in August. He appreciated it, but he decided to remain.
‘I told him to look for something in August when the market was open because in my opinion he wasn’t going to play. I told him the reasons. Usually a player wants only to play, but I cannot do anything. At the moment I am not able to satisfy him as a player.
‘I have a very good relationship with him. He’s a good boy and a good player. He is able to play in a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1 very well, but he is not very suitable in my system.’
Sarri said he hasn’t spoken to Drinkwater this week but will do on Friday
‘Yesterday I arrived on the pitch and training was beginning with [Gianfranco] Zola, and after training I went immediately to work because I wanted to see the last match of Slavia.
‘Danny always trains with us. Sometimes, if we are away, maybe once or twice a month [he doesn’t]. Usually he has the training with us.’