Maurizio Sarri tried to shake Juventus out of Champions League mode and focus back on Serie A to avoid another slip-up with Udinese. “We must fight against it.”
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“The risks of dropping the intensity levels and dropping points after Champions League games is visible in the statistics, you can’t argue when it happens two or three times,” said Sarri in his press conference.
“We’ve got to find out why it keeps happening and fix it. There are differences playing in Serie A to the Champions League, but it’s not true to say the European opponents are more open. Bayer Leverkusen focus mainly on possession, while Lokomotiv Moscow tend to clam up.
“Perhaps subconsciously our minds can drift to other targets after so many Scudetto titles in a row, but that is something we must absolutely fight against. If we are to be competitive in the Champions League, we need to be competitive in Italy too.
“It is a good sign that there are three Italian teams in the Round of 16 draw on Monday, but my mind won’t be on that until after tomorrow’s game.”
Udinese are currently under caretaker manager Luca Gotti, who has said repeatedly he does not want the job full-time.
The men know each other well, as Gotti worked as part of Sarri’s staff at Chelsea last season.
“Gotti is very talented. I’m told he doesn’t want to take on the responsibility of a coach, which means he is also very intelligent. Udinese can transform any long ball into a scoring opportunity, so we’ve got to be wary of that.”
Aaron Ramsey will at most be on the bench after more injury concerns, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Douglas Costa are back in the squad.
“The sensation is that Cristiano Ronaldo is recovering faster now than he was a while back. We’ll evaluate his fitness levels over the next few days, but he seems to be improving radically.”
Miralem Pjanic and Juan Cuadrado are suspended, so Adrien Rabiot could get another chance after a disappointing performance in Leverkusen midweek.
“He struggled to settle in to our football, but that is normal. He also came off an injury and struggled more in the first half in Germany, but he came out towards the end. He is also quite introverted, which doesn’t help him to settle.
“Emre Can was immensely disappointed (at being left out of the Champions League squad). Tomorrow either Emre Can or Rabiot will certainly play, and both of them may well be on the pitch for a portion of the game.”
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