A great match to watch and now a chance for his team to win a deserved trophy was the verdict of Maurizio Sarri after the nail-biting ending to our Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt went Chelsea’s way.
The game itself ended 1-1, a Ruben Loftus-Cheek goal levelled out by opposition striker Luka Jovic, the same result as the first leg, so a penalty shoot-out was required. The Blues netted four of ours to the Germans’ three with Eden Hazard applying the finishing touch to set-up a final against Arsenal.
It had taken longer than hoped to triumph in the tie and Sarri explained why…
‘It was clear we were not able to score the second goal in the first half, it was difficult,’ he said.
‘If you are not very compact on the pitch it is dangerous, in an open match they [Eintracht Frankfurt] become dangerous. You are not able to stay in control for 90 minutes if you don’t stay high and play in the opposition half.
‘We were not able to score the second goal and we were in trouble in the first part of the second half. We did better in the last part, and in extra-time both teams were really very tired, but I think it was a wonderful match.’
Sarri explained that his movements up and down the touchline during the action were to encourage his team to be compact in the way he desired, and that he did not go on the pitch in the interval to talk to his players for superstitious reasons. Instead his assistants carried instructions.
The fact he did not watch the final two penalties had nothing to do with superstition. That was just due to the agony of the occasion!
The Italian reflected on four English sides occupying all the places in the European finals…
‘Here the level is very high. To get to the final in the League Cup we beat Liverpool and Tottenham who are in the Champions League final, and in the final we played against the best team in Europe in my opinion, Man City, so the level is very high and at the moment the Premier League is the best championship in Europe and as a consequence, in the world.
‘But it is not easy for an English team to arrive in the last month in a good condition because here we play more matches,’ he added.
Sarri looked ahead to our final on 29 May…
‘We played a first final this season and we lost so now we want to win. Our group deserve to as three months ago we were in trouble. It is not easy to overcome difficulties here because the opposition teams are so strong, but we were able to do it so now we deserve to win a trophy.’