Thursday May 9 2019
Sarri: 'I had to adapt for Chelsea'

Maurizio Sarri described the “strong cultural differences” he has found at Chelsea. “Clearly, there are more individualistic players than at Napoli, but in England they are becoming more tactically-evolved.”

The Coach has taken Chelsea to the Europa League Final after beating Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties, 2-2 on aggregate, where they will face Arsenal on May 29.

“It was obvious that if we couldn’t finish it off in the first half, it’d be really tough, as Eintracht are a very dynamic side who exploit spaces well,” Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.

“We ran out of fuel in the second half, did well in extra time to hold out. I thought it must’ve been very entertaining for the neutral, but it was a lot of suffering for us on the touchline.”

For the first time ever, all four Finalists in the UEFA tournaments are from one country, as the Champions League is decided between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

“In order to reach the Carabao Cup Final, we had to eliminate Liverpool and Tottenham, who are the Champions League Finalists, and ended up against Manchester City in the Final.

“I maintain if English football eliminated one of the two Cup competitions, they’d be even more effective in Europe, because their players wouldn’t reach the end of the season so exhausted.”

Although his first season at Stamford Bridge has almost concluded, Sarri’s particular style of football simply has not been visible for anything other than short bursts.

“It’s not easy, because you run into some pretty strong cultural differences, in terms of mentality, food and doing things, so to a degree you have to show respect and adapt, which means cutting down on training sessions.

“English players are accustomed to playing continually. It’s a high level, it’s not so different a style of football from ours now, seeing as almost all the Coaches here are Italian, Spanish, French and German, so they are starting to play a more tactically-evolved style, but while maintaining the intensity and tempo of English football.

“It is on the one hand troubling to play so many games, but on the other, it does turn me on. I enjoy it, there's a real adrenaline boost. Also, if some of these players have a week to rest, they play worse.

“On a purely tactical level, I am really disappointed that I haven’t been able to work on the defensive line as much, because tonight’s Eintracht goal was entirely avoidable.

“There are many players in England who are talented, but they like to hold the ball, so it takes a while to get them to move it quicker and pass it more often.

“They also have these forwards who have a very specific way of attacking and it’s difficult to get them to change their ways. They want the ball passed right to their feet and often go into one-on-one situations. At that point, it’s counter-productive to force them to go against their nature.

“Clearly, Chelsea have more individualistic players than ones who will follow a system like at Napoli.”

Sarri has been linked with a return to Italy and was asked if that was on the cards.

“At the moment, no.”

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