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Sarri: My relationship with Ronaldo is good

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Manager’s comments ahead of key Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid

Juventus Press Conference Photo by Massimiliano Ferraro/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Juventus take on Atletico Madrid in Champions League group stage game, but all the media talk continues to focus on Cristiano Ronaldo, something that was not lost on manager Maurizio Sarri.

“I don’t know about the news that circulates in Turin, let alone in Spain.

“My relationship with the player is good, then if someone gets angry about being substituted, it’s a positive thing, especially if they have won everything and still have such great motivation.

“As I have said for 25 years now, I understand why players get angry about being substituted so it doesn’t make me feel hot or cold.”

Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala combined to give Juve an unlikely win away at Atalanta, but Sarri insists they cannot work with Ronaldo as a trio.

“It’s difficult. It’s only because of their characteristics. Gonzalo is a pure striker and Cristiano is the best centre-forward in the world, but he starts from the left and Dybala is not really a No 10, he is a forward too.

“In certain situations it’s clear that we are willing to do anything, but [playing them all at once] would be enforced.

“We still have three very strong forwards competing for two positions and it seems ideal because none of the three will be able to play all the games and you are already seeing that they are getting games during the first part of the season.

“Dybala is someone who plays football in a fantastic way, so he gets on well with anyone else who can play football. Both Higuain and Cristiano can play football.”

The Bianconeri hold a three point lead over Atleti with two games left to play, but Sarri will not hear any talk of taking it easy against the Spanish side.

“If we were to play to not lose or to draw, we would be taking lots of risks so we’ll play without making those calculations.

“Atletico have been changing lately, they are dribbling more, looking to play a different game than they did before. They are a difficult team to face, so it will be a complex match.

“It also will be [complex] mentally because if we think we’ve already qualified, we’ll be dead before the game even starts. We must think that it’s crucial to take top spot, otherwise they will have much more motivation than us.

“Atletico play in a difficult League, against Barcelona and Real Madrid. Every year they manage to be effective and win something, so we can only applaud them.”

Sarri’s time at Juve so far has not seen any major changes in playing style as yet, what did he have to say about that?

“I was defined as a Taliban because I always wanted to play my football, now it’s not good enough because I adapt to the different characteristics of my players.

“If I had to listen to or read the things that are said about Juventus, I would go crazy. I just get on with my work.

“I would like to see the most consistent team and certain attitudes, but we must take into consideration the different characteristics of our players. We will improve in many aspects, but you can’t go for your personal taste and against the characters you already have.

’The team must be accompanied by implementing ideas, and we have real room for improvement. Right now, we are only showing flashes of what we feel we can achieve and we would like to show them more consistently.

’The margins are wide, and we will find them between the highs and lows.”