Pjanic and Sarri rally the troops before Leverkusen clash

Miralem Pjanic and Maurizio Sarri talked to the press late on Tuesday ahead of the Bayer Leverkusen game, mostly discussing the team’s poor form: “This is a different competition compared to Serie A, we take it game after game and we carry with us the confidence we accumulated in the previous one. It is important to play well, we will try to win in order to gear up for the next domestic match. We will face a nice team that can still go through. It will not be easy, but we are prepared.”

“I did not see a dip in motivation, it would be insane to think that we do not play not to win the title. We want to compete and prevail. It can happen to leave some points on the table. We have done pretty well so far, sometimes there is too much negativity surrounding us. We need to find the right balance, maybe we are not always in tip-top shape. We need to bounce back tomorrow, gain some steam and finish strong in the remaining games of 2019. We will square off against strong sides, everybody wants to beat us and it is not easy to shine playing every three games. Sometimes you are not up for it. We talked to each and we hope for the results to be visible on the pitch. We want to do our thing, which means winning.”

“We trust the coach and we are tight as a team and with his staff. There was a coaching change after five years and there could be some growing pains. I have never seen a team where everything worked well after six months. We need some time, we have some untapped potential. It is nothing dramatic, we discussed it together and I think there will be some adjustments in the next few matches. We must not be too down even though it seems like everything is going badly from the outside. We feel the heavy pressure to win every time, sometimes we are not able to. We are not in the position where we want to be.”

Sarri intervened: “I feel like the professionalism of the players was questioned there, but it is high-level. They are cooperating fully with me, sometimes we do what we want, sometimes we do not. I can take the criticism about the performances but not about the attitude.”

On Federico Bernardeschi: “He could play as box-to-box, but right now I do not have other options as no.10 since Aaron Ramsey and Douglas Costa are out. We have tested few players in that position. Adrien Rabiot and Blaise Matuidi are both left-footed but might be able to feature there. We are not sure Rabiot can play 90 minutes after being out for a while.”

“We are serene. We know we need to work in order to improve, but we are taking action. The spark can come from many factors, we need to improve in the possession and in the passing game, they need to be quicker otherwise they do not lead to anything. We must not track back after scoring and take command. These things are part of a shift in the mentality that is not automatic and takes some time. But we have shown that in the past, like in the first half against Lazio.”

“The first time the officials reached out to me, I asked them why they did not make many points in the final matches and told them it would have been a bad look to justify that with having already won the league. We have the honour and the privilege to play in Champions League. I expect a serious and top-end display even if there is nothing on the line on the surface. There is always something to play for. I care about that.”

“Rabiot is coming off a physical problem, he needed time to adjust and practiced just three of four times. I count on him a lot, he has great potential. He needs to find the right conditioning. He will surely play a chunk of match tomorrow, according to what his current form allows him.”

“I read that the longest undefeated streak in Europe is 22 and I am one game shy, so I will kill them if they lose tomorrow (laughing). Clearly the Europa League final was the best memory, then I hope it can carry us to even a more important one.”

On the heavy trident: “We can not sustain that for long stretches. We will see tomorrow, all three are playing a lot and somebody might need to rest.”

On Blaise Matuidi: “He is one yellow card away from disqualification, but this kind of players have the maturity to deal with it, he should not be affected by it. Matthijs De Ligt is simply tired.”

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