Sarri and Pjanic set the stage for the Leverkusen game

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri warned the team about the difficulty of the Champions League clash against Bayern Leverkusen in today’s presser.

“If we have clear ideas on the next opponent, we can not think about Inter since we will face a strong side, they are just one point beind Bayern Munich, they have above average possession and physicality. It will be a demanding game, they like to hold the ball, looking past them would be an unforgettable mistake.”

On Kai Havertz: “He combines his physique with great technical skills. They are using him in the hole or on the flanks, he looks compete to me, he could play as box-to-box. He has great charisma for his age, he is one of the brightest prospects in Europe.”

On Champions League: “We hope to have room to improve. You know my belief about this competition, we need to take the field dreaming big, but being aware that other ten/eleven teams are as strong as us. Episodes are key in this cup, it can hinge on three thousand different factors, even some random ones. Our objective for now is to advance and see how deep we can go, then it is clear that we want to go all the way. Playing in Champions League is the top ambition for a coach and a player. We need to have fun and savour the fact that we are playing in great games. We need some cheerfulness, the atmosphere should not be heavy. In his historical juncture it is tough for an Italian team to be the clear favorite, but it can be among the top contenders. The English clubs are the frontrunners for obvious reasons. I would like to lighten the mood because we have to tackle these fixtures with attention, but also satisfaction.”

On his expectations: “I want a good result out of tomorrow’s match because it would be very important for the qualification. It is a very tough game. I want to see the guys focus on the task on hand.”

On Aaron Ramsey: “He is doing well, he was coming off a long and ugly injury that sidelined him for few months, but he can still improve. I was surprised for how quickly he fit in.”

On the recent games: “I think that we played better against Brescia than versus SPAL. We went down in the score against a team that is on form and proved it again yesterday. Besides the game, I am very satisfied for the intensity I see in practice and that leads me to believe that we are bound to ameliorate. Our quality in the possession got better recently, now we have to speed it up and play at all times with a high pace, rather than have some pauses. The final step will be to be more clinical, because we had 21 chances and scored just four times in the last two matches. The percentage is too low. Two games do not tell the whole story, but I would like the guys to be fiercer. It is something we need to think about, it is a matter that does not concern only the strikers.”

On using Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo together: “It is a fascinating idea, especially while talking among fans in a bar, but then you have to balance things out. It is an option for some chunks of the games, we might try it out.”

On the team’s form: “We have improved on all fronts in the most recent games, especially quality-wise. Then it is tough to compare the physical data, there are different factors, but we got better there too. The conditioning is at a higher level, but it goes hand-in-hand with the mental element, the determination and the spirit of sacrifice. Leverkusen are at exceptional levels physically. I do not know if somebody will get the day off yet, I saw them just once. We will have a normal training session, then we will make a decision.”

Miralem Pjanic preceded his coach in front of the journos and addressed his new style of play: “The manager asked me to do that right away when he joined, he told me to handle more balls. We are increasingly grasping his ideas as time passes by. It was a big change, but I think we are on the up and up. Everything could not be perfect after a month, we need to work on some stuff, but I think the further we will go the stronger the team will be and his philosophy will transpire even more. I am certainly at ease and try to give my best, then if the squad can benefit from me having 150 touches, I will be happy to do them.”

“We were playing in a different manner compared to Massimiliano Allegri, he often asked me to look for our wingers and move the ball laterally. Now we are using more vertical passes because  I have several players in front of me that move between the lines, touching the ball often and freeing me from my marker, which gives me more room. This what the coach demands.”

“My goal is to be among the most complete midfielders in Europe. I am in a top club and want to be among the best in the world. I have the fortune of working with great coaches and players, I want to continue improving. I feel like I have an important role already, my teammates give me a hand, then I had few quality managers that each helped me with their vision. Winning helps you become a great player.”

“The players that are at Juventus are ready to reach the maximum targets. I do not think that having an old squad is a problem, we have an experienced group that won a lot and this helps. Then the average age could be a random thing. The group is tight and hungry.”

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