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Sarri: This is the most difficult season in Italian football history

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Manager’s comments ahead of Juventus’ clash at home against Sampdoria tomorrow

Udinese Calcio v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Juventus failed to clinch their ninth straight Scudetto at the first time of asking, but will have a chance to do so at home tomorrow when they host Sampdoria.

The Bianconeri have dropped 18 points from winning positions this season, the highest since Antonio Conte’s time at the club, with the latest debacle coming away at Udinese midweek when Maurizio Sarri’s side frittered away yet another lead to lose in time added on 2-1.

“We want to achieve our objective without losing our heads. We’ve got until August 2 to reach our goal and, as I’ve always said, getting close to it counts for absolutely nothing.

“Fitness work is all the same for teams at the moment, which is non-existent, because we play every 72 hours. It’s impossible to do anything in these conditions.

“We lost our shape and organisation in Udine, but the positive aspect is we did that because we were trying so hard to win. I prefer that as a reason to lose rather than being passive, which is what we experienced a few other times. I like that desire to win, but we weren’t perfect in the execution.

“This is an atypical situation, nobody had ever played for the league title in July. Having said that, we can and must be far more solid. There are some blackouts lately, but the Udinese one wasn’t complacency, it was trying too hard.”

For tomorrow’s game, Sarri wants to make sure there will be no repeat of what has happened all too often away from the friendly confines of Juventus Stadium.

“Sampdoria have found their shape and can remain organised for most of a match. It’s no coincidence they’ve won five of their last nine games. They are tough to beat, but we have an objective in our minds and nobody must be more motivated than we are.

“It’s about finding the right balance, reading the various moments of the match. I do like always going forward, but you have to read the situation too. I am not going to deny I prefer the all-attack mentality, though.

“This is the most difficult season in Italian football history. If we look at the tables, they have been turned since the lockdown too. Faced with evident difficulties, I think the team has done well.”

Questions have been rightfully raised about Sarri’s tactical acumen this season as he has often been found wanting despite the riches at his disposal, but the veteran manager was dismissive.

“Of course I have to adapt to the characteristics of the players, otherwise I’d just be training myself…”

News broke yesterday that Douglas Costa is injured yet again, and his Champions League status is now in question too, adding to the extensive list already in the physiotherapist’s office.

“Juve have had a lot of injuries over the past few years, not just since I got here.

“There have also been traumatic injuries such as sprains and you can’t do much to avoid those. It’s the typical situation for any team that plays this many games, so nothing to make a drama about.

“The same goes for Miralem Pjanic, as he played 46 matches this season. We made some different choices lately because we were up against very physical opponents and Pjanic was struggling a little with his fitness, but he’ll be back training with the full squad today.

“Gonzalo Higuain trained yesterday, he’ll gradually try again today. Mattia De Sciglio should be back in with the squad next week. We’ve got the coverage, it’s not a crisis.”