Juventus play Napoli tomorrow in the Coppa Italia Final, with manager Maurizio Sarri taking on his former side for the first trophy of the elongated 2019-20 season.
The game will be played behind closed-doors in the Stadio Olimpico in the nation’s capital, and Sarri is ready for the challenge.
“In regards of the intensity, I don’t think the physical change will change in five days. We are in a particular moment; the games will be very difficult, the same goes for the mental and tactical aspects.
“It’s all part of the abnormal period. I watched Napoli who tried to get their opponents high up and just waited.
“I don’t know if it was a choice or due to the physical situation. Napoli are a side that have recently expressed themselves very well. It will not be easy.”
Speaking about the Partenopei and manager Gennaro Gattuso, Sarri added -
“Napoli are a difficult team to face. They are solid when they close the spaces and dangerous on the counter. They won against us, against Inter and drew with Barcelona, they know how to play at a high level.
“Napoli are a team of dribblers, on Wednesday we must remain compact and not allow easy counter-attacking situations.
“I like Gattuso a lot, he is straightforward and direct. I’m not surprised by what he’s achieving.”
In the semifinal Juve dominated possession against the ineffective AC Milan, especially once the opponents had been reduced to ten men. However, Sarri is preparing to not have the ball as much in the Final.
“The positions I assign the attackers will be more defensive than attacking. We can’t play the role of a central striker.
“In front, there’s a great freedom to move in the attacking phase.”
One of the biggest criticisms of Sarri has been that he has not won any major trophies in Italy, with his former employer Aurelio De Laurentiis leading that chorus.
“I get a bit annoyed when I hear that I didn’t win anything in Italy because I won eight promotions. That’s perhaps a small thing compared to the Champions League and the Scudetto, but it’s not easy.
“It’s always an important incentive to win important trophies and there’s a desire to lift the cup. I focus on us; I’m not interested in Napoli. I’m happy that we are in the Final.”
Sarri also talked about how the players have returned from the interruption of three months and how that has changed their approach.
“From a mental point of view it’s been a difficult period for everyone but I’ve seen the guys at their best: open, smiling and ready to play.
“Maybe I’ve also improved too, I’m more patient and less uncompromising. I am completely focused on the final and on our team, with the right concentration and conviction.
“We’ve played for seven months, and then have had a long break in order to play these remaining matches. Therefore, we’ll have to give everything that we have and give that little bit more to win as many trophies as possible.
“Apart from a few games that haven’t gone our way the results have been good so far. We have an excellent points average so we can be pleased with that, but now we want to transform it into something concrete.”
When asked if he had any special motivational messages for his side tomorrow -
“I will tell them that we played seven months and then were three months in lockdown before getting to play these games.
“Now, we have to bring out that little extra to take home as many trophies as possible.”