Tuesday February 25 2020
Sarri: 'Three-year Juventus project'

Maurizio Sarri discussed the dangers Juventus face against Olympique Lyonnais, the Coronavirus crisis and why the Champions League is “a dream” in the three-year project.

The first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 kicks off in France on Wednesday at 20.00 GMT.

“It’s a European and global problem, not an Italian one. In Italy, we made 3,500 tests for Coronavirus and therefore had many more positive tests. In France you had about 300 tests and so obviously the average who are positive is much lower. If you did as many tests as we did, you’d probably have as many positives too.

“Therefore, our fans have every right to be here.”

Sarri was asked if he felt the responsibility to go for the Champions League and if his future even depended on the trophy.

“I feel frankly even more responsibility in Italy to achieve every result. You all seem to pretend it’s not happening because it suits your various narratives, but there are clubs out there with significantly more capabilities than Juventus. We are in the group of around 10-12 who can dream of the trophy.

“It’s at this moment very difficult for any Italian club to chase this dream, because we were the leaders 20 years ago, but have been overtaken due to various reasons in the last couple of decades.

“A dream is not to be underestimated. If you chase a dream and achieve it, that is ecstasy, whereas if you don’t achieve it, it was still a wonderful journey.

“I don’t know what my future depends on, but the President pointed out yesterday this is a three-year project. I have great faith in what my President says, as he tends to be pretty clear.

“Lyon are a dangerous team, their only defect so far has been a lack of consistency. They have technique, physical strength and impressive pace. It was inevitable they’d reach this stage of the Champions League and that we’d need a great performance to get the result against them.”

Sarri kept the reporters guessing when it came to his starting XI, particularly in the midfield.

“We have a varied midfield in terms of characteristics. It’s a difficult match to interpret, because Lyon can alternate moments of counter-attacks and defending deep with trying to take control of the match. We could do with a hard-working and quick midfielder among our three.”

There are no doubts over one of the names in the starting XI, Cristiano Ronaldo, who is fresh from matching the all-time Serie A record of 11 consecutive appearances on target.

“In the last 11 games, he has scored 15-16 goals and is a leader setting the pace for everyone else. He is in great shape in every conceivable way.

“When he has that enthusiasm, that pace, when he brings it to training as well, it means everything for his teammates.”

Being in France, Sarri was asked about the development of former PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

“Don’t forget Michel Platini struggled for his first three months in Italy, so it’s only natural Rabiot would. He has improved in recent weeks and this is why he is playing more consistently.

“He does give us the constant sensation of someone who can do even more, of a player with great potential. He’s getting there, but we can see there’s more to come.”

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