Sarri seeking 'change of mentality' from already-qualified Juventus

By Sports Desk December 10, 2019

Maurizio Sarri wants to see signs of a "change of mentality" from Juventus against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

The Bianconeri's place in the Champions League knockout stages is already clinched heading into matchday six, with Sarri's team guaranteed top spot in Group D.

Juve have won four and drawn one in Europe so far, continuing Sarri's impressive personal run in continental competition after he led Chelsea to Europa League success last season.

But his side are second in Serie A and lost for the first time this season against Lazio at the weekend, meaning Sarri sees room for improvement even in a fixture they need not win.

"We know that we have to work to do better, but we are calm," said Sarri. 

"We need a spark, but that can be many things. We've got to move the ball quickly and not defend too 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 [against Lazio]."

Sarri wants his side to demonstrate a strong mentality in their performance, even with their passage already secured as Leverkusen still hope to overhaul Atletico Madrid for second spot. 

"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," he said. 

"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."

Related items

  • Juventus must be better than last season to retain title – Sarri Juventus must be better than last season to retain title – Sarri

    Maurizio Sarri is delighted with Juventus' form but acknowledges the team must be better than in seasons past if they are to again retain their Serie A title.

    The Bianconeri defeated Roma 3-1 in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals on Wednesday, scoring through Cristiano Ronaldo, Rodrigo Bentancur and Leonardo Bonucci before half-time.

    It was a fifth win in a row in all competitions for Juve, in which time they have built a four-point lead over Inter at the top of the league table.

    Sarri saw evidence of this winning mentality against Roma but acknowledged improvement was required in a three-way title tussle with the Nerazzurri and Lazio.

    "Winning is becoming normal," Sarri explained at a post-match news conference. "I'm happy for the team.

    "But we don't have to look at the numbers because it will be more difficult this year. We will certainly have to do better than previous years if we want to be competitive in the league."

    Ronaldo took his 2020 tally to seven goals in four games, and Sarri lauded his "extraordinary" talisman while again repeating a desire to help the Portuguese secure individual honours.

    "Ronaldo is in extraordinary physical and mental condition," the head coach said. "He is continuing at an impressive pace and has extraordinary skills.

    "He is very well physically. In terms of explosiveness, he is good. He takes great care of the details.

    "Ronaldo is a champion, we want to help him win the sixth Ballon d'Or, it would make us all happy."

    Juve's next league task takes them to Sarri's former club Napoli, who are struggling in the bottom half of the table.

    "It will be a difficult game. We must not look at their position in the table," Sarri added. "They have a strong team. They are going through a difficult time but have good players. 

    "From one point of view, there are three points at stake. From my point of view, from a personal point of view, it will be particularly special because I am very close to Napoli."

  • Fati will get more starts if he keeps developing - Setien Fati will get more starts if he keeps developing - Setien

    Ansu Fati will get more starting opportunities "as long as he keeps developing", Quique Setien said after Barcelona's Copa del Rey escape against Ibiza.

    Setien rested the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique for Wednesday's visit to the Segunda B club, who took a surprise lead after nine minutes against LaLiga's leaders.

    An incredible upset appeared on the cards until Antoine Griezmann equalised in the 72nd minute and then netted the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

    Fati, 17, burst onto the scene with goals against Osasuna and Valencia earlier in the season and scored the winner at Inter in the Champions League last month, but contributed little to the 2-1 victory in Ibiza.

    Despite his lack of influence on the contest, Fati will be provided with more chances to prove himself by Setien.

    "The first thing we are doing is seeing the players in different positions," Setien told reporters.

    "[Fati] has a lot of talent. We will see how he progresses. He will get more starting time as long as he keeps developing."

    Setien was far from satisfied with Barca's performance, adding: "I did not like the team. I would have preferred things another way.

    "But in a stadium like this, it is harder. They were aggressive and intense in defence. It has not been easy. 

    "I would have loved for us to have been more precise and to have played better. But from here we will take away conclusions for the future. 

    "It is when you do things badly that you can improve."

  • Who has a lot of chances against Reims? – Tuchel content with hard-earned Paris Saint-Germain win Who has a lot of chances against Reims? – Tuchel content with hard-earned Paris Saint-Germain win

    Thomas Tuchel did not expect a free-flowing Paris Saint-Germain display against Reims but was satisfied with his team's display as the Ligue 1 leaders booked their place in the Coupe de la Ligue final.

    PSG were 3-0 winners at Stade Auguste-Delaune on Wednesday, with Marquinhos opening the scoring prior to a Ghislain Konan own goal – substitute Nianzou Kouassi rounding off the win with what was the capital club's 4,000th competitive goal.

    Lyon await in April's final, as PSG look to claim their ninth Coupe de la Ligue title. Though it was far from a vintage display, head coach Tuchel had no problems with his side scrapping it out at times against Reims, who have had the best defence in Ligue 1 so far this term.

    "We made the efforts defensively, it was necessary. Who has a lot of chances against Reims? Nobody," Tuchel told Canal+.

    "We took advantage of the set-pieces, it is part of the game, and we found a little more space in the second half. We played with seriousness, patience and efficiency, that's good."

    Marquinhos was a star performer for PSG, though he was forced off midway through the second half with a problem that Tuchel confirmed is a recurrence of the groin injury which kept him out of the previous two matches against Lorient and Monaco.

    "Marquinhos? He felt something, I hope it's not too serious, it's the same area that is affected," Tuchel added.

    Presnel Kimpembe partnered Marquinhos at the back and the France international believes a meeting with Lyon will prove to be a fitting finale for the Coupe de la Ligue, which has been scrapped ahead of next season.

    "It was not an easy match but we were able to play with quality, desire, and hold the score until the end," Kimpembe told Canal+.

    "It was complicated, but the most important thing was qualifying. A final against Lyon – I don't know if it's the dream final, but it's a great poster!"

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.