There’s a tight clump of three teams chasing Juventus as the reigning champions bid to make it nine consecutive Scudetti, with the trio cycling positions week after week. Following Atalanta’s draw yesterday, Juve remain six clear of them and Inter Milan but tomorrow they play now fourth-placed Lazio who are eight points behind.
A win tomorrow against the Roman side will virtually end their title hopes, and leave Juve needing just seven points from four remaining fixtures to seal the title on their own terms. Despite Lazio’s recent slide though, Sarri warned his side to be cautious.
“Lazio have had a fantastic season and proved themselves to be a great team. In a one-off match, they can cause problems for any opponent and we have always struggled against them.”
While Juve have already lost twice to the Biancocelesti by identical 3-1 scorelines in the Italian Supercup and in the league, Lazio come into tomorrow’s clash with a depleted squad after the trio of Luis Alberto, Jony, and Stefan Radu were confirmed out for the game tomorrow, joining Adam Marusic, Lucas Leiva, Joaquin Correa and Patric out on the sidelines. For Sarri, captain Giorgio Chiellini is still not fit while Federico Bernardeschi is suspended after picking up five yellow cards.
“Rodrigo Bentancur, Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci all trained separately, so we’ll see how they react today. Chiellini has to stay out for a few days. In any case, we have valid alternatives.
“At this moment, we have to focus on being solid and consistent. It’s not important who plays upfront, but the work they are able to do for the team.
“It’s an issue of duties and who can do them well. We could use Douglas Costa or Juan Cuadrado, we’ll see who we choose. It’s about ensuring their duties are done, so the defence is not left so exposed.”
Juve have been far from convincing this season and Sarri was asked if he thought his future at Juve was in doubt.
“Have you ever asked a Formula 1 driver if he is afraid of speed? It’s part of the job, it goes well if you win and badly if you lose. I’m happier feeling someone breathing down my neck.
“I have a contract and I want to honour it. Look, my future is tomorrow, we must take it one game at a time and the rest is merely a consequence. There are difficulties working in all clubs. There’s probably more media pressure here, while in Naples it’s more of a localised issue, but football is difficult everywhere you go.
“It was a different situation at Chelsea. I liked the idea of going to England, but last summer, I really wanted to come back to Italy.”