Chelsea arrive in Kiev carrying a 3-0 advantage from the first leg, but Maurizio Sarri has warned against taking things too easy in today’s second leg against Dynamo Kiev, especially given the state of the pitch, which is apparently in appalling condition. It’s probably not too surprising, given the harsh winters of the region, but Sarri was still not very happy with it after training on it yesterday.
“A disaster. The pitch is not good, I think it is dangerous. Really dangerous. It is difficult to play good football here, the situation is this and we have to accept this.”
“There isn’t another situation. I cannot understand why the referee has given much attention to everything like the players list, but not the pitch. It will be difficult for Dynamo as well.”
“It could be because of the weather, I was here a few years ago and it was excellent.”
The dangerous conditions will be just the latest distraction the team will have to deal with. Maintaining focus as we approach the last couple months of the season remains of utmost importance.
“Tomorrow the match is very important, then the match against Everton. Next season is too far.”
“I want to be focused on this match, we have a lot of matches at the end of the season I hope. We need to be focused on the next two matches. We want to be in the final and in the top four.”
That focus will have to extend to not taking unnecessary risks or being distracted by transfer rumors and transfer bans. And while that sounds like bad news for the younger players, Sarri claims that won’t necessarily be the case.
“I have a lot of players, of course. I know that for you Odoi is the best, but for me I want to see them all at the same level.”
“Odoi is doing very well for the last period, he will be in the 18, I don’t know on the pitch. I want to send the message to the team that the match is very important. I don’t want to make a mistake in this. Maybe, as you know in the last match Odoi was the first change, so you know he is in my mind for every match.”
In Sarri’s defence, both Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek have been making regular appearances from the bench and that’s certainly an improvement on recent trends when the youth wouldn’t even get those looks. There’s room for improvement, especially with the very real possibility that Chelsea will have to rely on in-house talent to compete next season thanks to the impending FIFA transfer ban.
As far as that distracting situation goes, Sarri, as usual, isn’t giving it too much thought beyond his standard stance of wanting only players who actually want to play for the club.
“You have to ask Hazard, I think. I did not speak to Eden about Zidane.”
“I am not worried, you know very well my opinion, I only want players that want to play for Chelsea.”
-Maurizio Sarri; Source: Football.London
Whether Hazard or Hudson-Odoi plays today, whether the pitch is good or bad, the expectation will be one and the same: win and advance.