Maurizio Sarri held an early presser ahead of the Atalanta and begun by addressing the status of Cristiano Ronaldo and the recent controversy: “We did not really need to clear the air. I come from the amateurs in the 90’s and the reactions after subbing off were the same. Either I spent all my time trying to clarify that or I let them blow some steam. It is not a problem, the issue is his knee injury, which got worse in the second Portugal match. We are trying to solve it through some specific practices: it is affecting him mentally as well. We want him back for the Champions League tilt with Atletico Madrid, he has 99 percent chances of missing tomorrow’s match.”
On Atalanta: “It is reductive to call them just dangerous. They play with a high level of aggression and intensity, but they are good technically. It is not a case that they are scoring a lot. Pep Guardiola gave the best definition: facing them is like going to the dentist, it can go well but it leaves some pain. It will be very hard to limit all their skills, especially away.”
On the injured players: “Danilo and Aaron Ramsey were starting to do well here before the break. Alex Sandro is dealing with a smaller problem compared to the initial report coming from the Brazilian national team. Adrien Rabiot is dealing with an adductor injury and Juan Cuadrado with a sore back. The exams for Miralem Pjanic came back clean, he practiced fully and should be available. Blaise Matuidi still has some pain, but he can play through that thanks to his character.”
On Juventus having the best defence and the expectations before the season: “We recorded the second-best numbers in Naples too, going from 54 to 31 conceded goals in one year. We have always worked a lot on the back-line, we had the third best one in Premier League despite allowing few goals in some games. It is not nothing new, you can not change the way you deal with opponents. You need months to build a different mentality, we must continue on this track.”
On the growth of the team: “I disagree with the notion that it is constant process. It is made of ebbs and flows, the important thing is that the positive moments are more than the negative ones. Then there is some impasse in the middle: this is how things usually work. We want to play a certain style of football, but we do not want to go against the characteristics of the players. The final style has to be a compromise, if it is unbalanced one way or the other it is an issue. The squad has a lot more to show based on their traits, not only because of my ideas.”
On the virtual coach: “We have been using it for five years, everybody does. The referees utilize VAR, so we can take advantage of technology as well.”
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