Chelsea take on Dynamo Kyiv on Thursday evening in the Europa League. Ahead of the match, David Luiz and Maurizio Sarri met with the media. Here is what they had to say..
Maurizio Sarri –
Any injuries to report?
“We have no injuries. We have some players who are very tired. We started with 130 minutes in the final so we know very well the situation and to rest some players”
On whether performances are improving because of a tactical change?
“Tactically we changed only the line of pressing, but we are trying to play the same way. Mentally we have improved”
On the disappointment of the last half an hour against Fulham, was it a rotation issue?
“Not problem with rotation, we changed 6 players between Arsenal and Fulham match, we had very good rotation. Probably we were tired, some players physically and all the team mentally”
On whether he will be Chelsea manager next season –
“It’s not a big problem, the problem is the results, the rest is not important. I want to win for the team, for the club. I was confident in the past, I am confident now. I want to think only to our performances and our results”
On the Europa league being the best chance of gaining Champions League football –
“We can gain a spot in the premier league, we are only two points, we have to play one match in hand. The Europa league is very important trophy, with the Champions League qualification on offer, its an important target for us”
On Dynamo Kyiv fixture –
“We have to play the first leg at home and second away, my team is good enough to win both matches. Dynamo are a physical and young team, dangerous counter attacks and young wingers, we need two very good performances. Our target is to play the same home and away”
On English teams not helped in Europe with fixture congestion –
“At this moment we have played 6, 7 or 8 matches more than other European teams. For an English team its very difficult to be competitive in Europe in March to June.
“We saw Ajax beat Real Madrid, Ajax did not come from a match. Madrid came from two matches against Barcelona. I think the premier league can do more to help English teams. For example you play Europa league in Italy, you can ask to play on the Monday, I think one more day to rest is very important. We play in the league 62 hours after the match against Kyiv”
The Kepa situation –
“I was lucky because I have two very good goalkeepers. Kepa did very well against Fulham. So you can see the situation can be managed”
On having more respect from the dressing room since the Kepa incident?
“They respected me before, it wasn’t a problem for me the dressing room. We had problems with the mentality because we did very badly in 2 or 3 matches but no problem with dressing room”
Player power at Chelsea, is this group particularly tough to manage?
“Its not a tough group to manage, in my opinion. The situation is not easy we are in Chelsea we have to win something, the players are not very difficult to manage”
Are you confident you’ll be here next season, you mentioned confidence earlier?
“I say its not important for me next season whether I’ll be here, its only important the results. I am confident of course otherwise I can’t do my work. I have to think this otherwise I cant do my work”
Callum Hudson-Odoi being in contention to play more?
“Callum is always in my mind in every match, I don’t know if he will be on the pitch tomorrow. You have to put less pressure on the young English players, because they need to improve. I’ve never seen a young player of a team at the top. Callum, as all the other young players in England, needs to improve, and then he will be able to be at the top at 22,/23 years old without the pressure. You put too much pressure on the young players”
You said to Sky Sports that you were already talking with club to plan for next next season? Can you clarify?
“No, no, we were talking about the problem of the next pre-season. We were trying to organise in the best way the pre-season. I don’t want to be relaxed, I want to be nervous, because I have to think to a very important match, so I don’t want to be relaxed”
David Luiz –
On the poor results recently and how they dealt with it as players –
“It was hard to turn negative moments into positive, we played well after losing the matches. For me as senior players its never easy to have these moments but it is part of my job to motivate everyone”
On holding group meetings after the recent losses –
“I have to be intelligent and clever to help find a solution. Most of the times we find a solution and i think we did that in the meeting. To be strong sometimes is to say the truth”
Kepa situation – As a senior player shouldn’t you have got involved?
*Luiz laughs “I got involved, I was there. It was a misunderstanding, Kepa thought the coach thought he was injured”
Has the style of play changed?
Luiz laughs “No our style has not changed, I think we just adapt some moments of the game like the defensive line and the high press line. Just defend for a few minutes to get back possession and to play our game”
On the fixture congestion in England –
“I think both English teams are still in the competition and both fighting in the premier league. I prefer games than training so I think we have a lot of quality to play all these matches”
On winning the Europa League?
“I have to take game by game, its not easy to win this competition”
Are the players finding it too hard adapting to Sarri’s style?
“I think we can try to use our memories in our first 4 months everyone say how well we adapted to Sarri, now we forget already and say nobody is adapting. Its football first and foremost, we have to adapt. We had difficult moments but the players, manager and club adapt very well.
“It was decision of club to change the style of football, everyone was saying Chelsea win title but don’t control the game, but now everyone says the opposite. We just have to try and achieve our goals”
On the players being tired?
Luiz laughs “I’m very good. I rest against Fulham. You have to have this mentality and to have someone work with you everyday for fitness. We have someone invest in our bodies and look after us. They work a lot in prevention”
Do the players need more intelligence to play ‘Sarri-ball’?
“I think we have to be intelligent to understand the moments. Its never easy playing for big clubs who want to fight for every competition. We have to have the same ambition and same hunger”
“To play football now you have to be more intelligent. The way you control and touch the ball, players more are physical, more speed”
On Sarri’s mood –
“Sarri is a great human. He is still someone with love and passion for football, he is lovely with people, tries to help everyone. When you lose a game like City nobody is going to be happy, but hes a real person with emotions”
That was all from Sarri and Luiz. Some interesting comments from both, Luiz certainly seemed to find some of the questions laughable!