Higuain and Sarri set the stage for the Atleti clash

Gonzalo Higuain and Maurizio Sarri held a joint-presser ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Atletico Madrid, with the player taking the floor first: “I am happy, not only for deciding to stay here but for how the management and the teammates treated me when I came back. I had wonderful years here. The season is going well but I do not want to settle, I still have a lot to prove.”

On the duel with Paulo Dybala: “The game-by-game choice has to accepted and we have to fully take advantage of every opportunity. We gave our best every time we played and we are satisfied with that. The coach helped us out. Both he and Cristiano Ronaldo are great players, I am fine featuring next to either of them. I try to adapt to their skillsets and do what I can.”

On the relationship with Sarri: “I have had by best season with him at the helm, I am familiar with what he asks and I am happy to work with him again. He has improved year by year and contributed to me setting a new Serie A record in Naples. He did his best he could in London by finishing in the top four and winning Europa League. We are trying to turn this into his kind of squad, but he is having a strong start of the season. The play is not as sharp as he wants but the results are fine.”

On Atletico Madrid: “They need to be respected, it will be a very complicated game, they will come here to try securing the qualification, while we want the first place.”

On Cristiano: “He is winner and that is contagious. We are all important and essential, both on and off the pitch. He has grown and won a lot since our Madrid days, I have gotten to know him better here. I like to play alongside great champions.”

On the summer’s decision: “I would have stayed even without Sarri, I had made my choice. I wanted to prove it with facts as well, not only by words. I have always been very comfortable here.”

On scoring: “Being obsessed with that can take away something from other areas of the game. I am not worried about that if the situations are not right. I could have netted some more goals but it does not matter who finds the target in the end. We can improve but we can not say that things are going badly since we are first in the Serie A and already qualified to the next Champions League stage. We have to get closer to the kind of football the coach is asking for and we want to do that.”

“I do not look back and make comparisons with my previous years. I try to ameliorate constantly. I have had great teammates and tried to learn from them. I am in a good place mentally and physically, I am getting a lot of help. However, I will be content only when Juventus will be able to win something meaningful.”

Here are instead the manager’s words: “I do not really follow what the journalists say about the team. I do not evaluate the performances based on the articles. Sometimes I run into some well though-out pieces, but it is rare. I try to look at things in perspective. The squad has precise characteristics. I was a Taliban at first because I wanted to impose my style, now I adapt to the players too much. I would become crazy if I listened to all of that. I focus on the team without giving too much importance to what is around it.”

“I agree with what Arrigo Sarri said, there is not a strong imprint yet. I would like some more continuity, but I have to consider the players too. We will improve but I have to accommodate their traits, I can not just force my personal taste. I need to accompany them and insert some of my ideas. We have showed just some flashes of what we are capable of.”

On the game: “If you play to avoid conceding, you can find yourself in big troubles. We do not want to speculate. They are going through some changes, they have more possession and more quality now. They are tough to deal with, also mentally. If we think that we have already gotten the job done we are dead. Finishing first is key.”

On Diego Simeone: “We have different beliefs. They have to navigate a difficult scenario considering Real Madrid and Barcelona, but they are competitive and often manage to win something. His work simply has to be applauded.”

On Cristiano: “Our relationship is good, being angry for a substitution is part of the game. it is positive, it means that he is still motivated. I have seen irate players for over 25 years, I am unbothered. As far as his status is concerned, he is trending in the right direction. We will assess today and tomorrow whether is issue has been solved, but he practiced fully yesterday. I hope he will not suffer any setback. Matthijs De Ligt and Federico Bernardeschi instead are day-to-day, it will depend on their pain tolerance.”

On the super trident: “It is hard to pull off because of the respective skills. Gonzalo is a pure centre-forward, Ronaldo is best striker in the world but he likes to start from the left flank, Dybala is not a no.10, but a striker as well. We have three strong players for two spots, it is an ideal situation, nobody can play 65 games. They are all getting playing time and fit well next to another.”

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