Juventus saw their seven-point lead over Lazio cut back to four with the Roman side scoring twice in the second half to overcome a feisty Fiorentina, but have the chance tomorrow to pull ahead again when the Bianconeri travel to Genoa who languish in 17th place.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference while Barcelona were confirming the swap of midfielders Miralem Pjanic and Arthur Melo, Maurizio Sarri said he expected a battle tomorrow.
“Playing against Genoa is tough for anyone and away fixtures against sides who are battling against relegation are always going to be very difficult in the final weeks of the season.
“My lads are fully aware of the situation, because if we expect this to be easy, then we really are on the wrong path.”
The Bianconeri have been struggling with injuries and Sarri has not had too many reinforcements to use despite most of his first team looking quite unfit late on in games.
“We don’t have the numbers right now to rotate more than two or three players, it’s just not an option. We had 14 outfield players available against Lecce and two of them had only a couple of training sessions. Hopefully, the situation can improve over the next few days, so I’ll have more chance to rotate.
“Gonzalo Higuain is fine, we are just not sure how many minutes he can hold out for, that is still up in the air. Aaron Ramsey seems to be on the right path too, as he was more sparkling coming off the bench in the last game rather than the one before that.
“I think Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala can continue to play for now, the problem of fatigue might come up in two or three games. As time wears on, Higuain will also be indispensable.”
Both Pjanic and Arthur have completed their medicals, but will remain with their respective squads until the transfer window opens on 1st September.
“To be honest, I answered this question last week. If the transfer is confirmed, Pjanic will be happy, as he’s going to an extraordinary club like Barcelona. Pjanic loves to play football, he’s a fine professional and an intelligent man, so I never even considered the possibility he might not give us 110 per cent for the rest of the season.
“I have little to say about Arthur, because these two lads have another two months to play for their current clubs, so there’s plenty for them still to do. I have a lot of important games over the next two months, so I can’t be using up energy on the transfer market.
“I don’t like it! I realise that’s the media and the public who have become accustomed to talking only about the market, but that’s not where my interest lies. We should get people accustomed to talking about football again.”
The home advantage effect has been somewhat diluted with games getting played behind closed-doors, but Sarri insists it’s still enough of a factor.
“There is always going to be home advantage, even if there’s no crowd pushing you on, but you do feel more confident and comfortable at home with your locker room, your familiar surroundings. It can have an effect.”
Sarri remains hesitant to use all five subs in a game, and explained his rationale.
“At the moment, we are dealing with the difficulty of trying to reach full match fitness after such a long lockdown. Next month, as the games rack up, we’ll have the opposite problem, which will be trying to allow rest for players who are tired.
“The issue of five substitutions is also a risk, because it’s a new situation, so there’s the very high risk of doing something dumb! At least we’ll all learn something from it.
“We saw in the Bundesliga that the smaller clubs are using all five substitutions, whereas the bigger ones use three or four.”