Juventus take on Olympique Lyon tomorrow in the first leg of their Champions League clash, but manager Maurizio Sarri was asked to show his medical credentials first during his pre-match conference with fears growing over the spread of the Corona virus.
“It’s a European and global problem, not an Italian one. In Italy, we made 3,500 tests for Coronavirus and therefore had many more positive tests. In France you had about 300 tests and so obviously the average who are positive is much lower. If you did as many tests as we did, you’d probably have as many positives too.
“Therefore, our fans have every right to be here.”
The manager was asked if there was additional pressure on him to win the Champions League and if it would determine his future with Juve.
“I feel frankly even more responsibility in Italy to achieve every result. You all seem to pretend it’s not happening because it suits your various narratives, but there are clubs out there with significantly more capabilities than Juventus. We are in the group of around 10-12 who can dream of the trophy.
“It’s at this moment very difficult for any Italian club to chase this dream, because we were the leaders 20 years ago, but have been overtaken due to various reasons in the last couple of decades.
“A dream is not to be underestimated. If you chase a dream and achieve it, that is ecstasy, whereas if you don’t achieve it, it was still a wonderful journey.
“I don’t know what my future depends on, but the President pointed out yesterday this is a three-year project. I have great faith in what my President says, as he tends to be pretty clear.
“Lyon are a dangerous team, their only defect so far has been a lack of consistency. They have technique, physical strength and impressive pace. It was inevitable they’d reach this stage of the Champions League and that we’d need a great performance to get the result against them.”
Sarri was not so forthcoming about his squad selection for the game however.
“We have a varied midfield in terms of characteristics. It’s a difficult match to interpret, because Lyon can alternate moments of counter-attacks and defending deep with trying to take control of the match. We could do with a hard-working and quick midfielder among our three.”
Cristiano Ronaldo has just set the new Bianconeri record of scoring in 11 consecutive games in Serie A, and comes into this game in fine form.
“In the last 11 games, he has scored 15-16 goals and is a leader setting the pace for everyone else. He is in great shape in every conceivable way.
“When he has that enthusiasm, that pace, when he brings it to training as well, it means everything for his teammates.”
What were his thoughts on the growth of Adrien Rabiot in his side?
“Don’t forget Michel Platini struggled for his first three months in Italy, so it’s only natural Rabiot would. He has improved in recent weeks and this is why he is playing more consistently.
“He does give us the constant sensation of someone who can do even more, of a player with great potential. He’s getting there, but we can see there’s more to come.”