Tuesday December 10 2019
Sarri: 'Juve still changing mentality'

Maurizio Sarri joked about his unbeaten European record and warned Juventus are still “changing mentality” for a Champions League trip to Bayer Leverkusen.

It kicks off on Wednesday at 20.00 GMT, with the Bianconeri already sure of their status as group winners.

With Rodrigo Bentancur, Sami Khedira, Aaron Ramsey and Douglas Costa all injured, it has been suggested Federico Bernardeschi will move into midfield.

“It could happen, although I don’t know how many options I’d have in the trequartista role then, with Ramsey and Douglas Costa out,” replied Sarri in his press conference.

“Adrien Rabiot showed in pre-season he could do well on the right side of midfield, so we’ll see. The only unknown is whether Adrien can play 90 minutes after such a long time out.

“We know that we have to work to do better, but are calm because we are working. We need a spark nowadays, but that can be many things. We’ve got to move the ball quickly, otherwise possession becomes sterile, and not defend deep after we’ve taken the lead.

“It’s important that we always try to control the game. These are all things that represent a change of mentality at Juventus, so they do not come automatically. We’ve seen them in moments, for example the first half in Rome.”

Sarri also shrugged off questions about motivating his players in these circumstances.

“The first time I was contacted by the Juventus hierarchy, I asked how come they only managed three points in the final Serie A games of the season. I said it would be a bad sign of their mentality if they justified it with the fact the Scudetto had already been won.

“We have the privilege and the honour of playing in the Champions League. I expect a strong and focused performance, because there are always objectives. I ask for a performance, then the result can come or not.

“I am unbeaten in 21 European games. I think I read somewhere that the longest run for a coach in Europe is 22, so if my lads don’t get a result tomorrow, I’ll kill them!” he laughed.

“Clearly, the match I remember with most fondness is the Europa League Final with Chelsea, but I hope the run can last so long that I end up in another Final.”

With Juventus already qualified top of their group, could Sarri not risk the superstar trident of Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain?

“It’s an experiment, because we have used it during games, but also learned from that we cannot afford to keep it going for long periods.”

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