Chelsea are through to the Europa League finals having beaten Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties. Frankfurt proved to be difficult as Chelsea left it late to secure passage to the final. Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s first half goal (10th in all competitions) brought Chelsea ahead in aggregate. However, Chelsea conceded early in the second half (yet again...) as in-form striker Luka Jovic drew the visitors level. Chelsea eventually did just enough to hold back the energetic German team. Maurizio Sarri acknowledged the team’s struggles in the match, however found enough positives to call it “wonderful”.
“It was clear we were not able to score the second goal in the first half, the match was difficult. Also because, if you are not very, very compact on the pitch, they are dangerous.
In an open match, they become really very dangerous. Or you are able to take control of the match for 90 minutes, to stay high and play in the opposing half, otherwise they are very, very dangerous.
We were not able to score the second goal in the first half and were in trouble in the first part of the second half. We did better after that and, in extra-time, we were really very tired. Also the opponents were very tired. I think it was a wonderful match.”
Questions were asked regarding Sarri’s absence in the huddle after extra-time before penalties. Sarri explained that he is superstitious and did not wish to walk onto the pitch.
“Because I don’t want to enter on the pitch. A superstition. [Laughs] I don’t need to talk to them. I spoke with Zola so they knew very well what to say.”
Twenty days till the Europa League final against Arsenal in Baku. Between now and then, Chelsea have two games: one with stakes and one without. Chelsea will wrap up the Premier League season against Leicester this Sunday. Less than 72 hours later, Chelsea will fly to the USA to play the New England Revolution in the ‘Final Whistle On Hate’ friendly. Sarri laments on the upcoming schedule leading up to the Europa League final.
“For sure, it will be very difficult for Sunday, I think. But we need to consider that our best match, in my opinion, was here in Stamford Bridge against Tottenham, three days after 120 minutes in the cup final against Manchester City. Of course, now it’s more difficult, I think. We played 61 matches, so it’s very difficult. We need to rest, of course. Unfortunately we have to go to the US to play a match. And then we have, after the US, 10 days to prepare the last match.”
Sarri in his first season thus far has guided Chelsea to two cup finals and secured Champions League for next season. Despite the boos, the uncertainty, and the doubt that has shadowed his tenure thus far, he’s ready to finish the season with an exclamation point and win a trophy he believes this team deserves.
“A final. A final. We played the first final against Manchester City and lost. So now we want to win. In our opinion, our group deserves to win. We were in trouble three months ago and, here in England, if you’re in trouble the level of opponents is very high and it’s not easy to overcome difficulties. We were able to do it. So now we deserve to win a trophy.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London
Winning the Europa League trophy for the second time in the club’s history will be a fantastic achievement. It would also mark Sarri’s first ever silverware for his managerial career. To do so, Chelsea will need to perform much, much better than today... preferably two halves.