Maurizio Sarri wants Juventus to 'have fun' in their Champions League quest

Italian manager says Serie A champions must not turn Euro hopes into 'an obsession'

Juventus attackers Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Paulo Dybala during training on Monday. Reuters
Juventus attackers Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Paulo Dybala during training on Monday. Reuters

Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri believes his side need to enjoy themselves more if they are going to have any chance of ending their 24-year wait for the Champions League trophy.

The 60-year-old Sarri will oversee his first Champions League match at home in the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday.

Juventus host Bayer Leverkusen in their second Group D clash, having being held 2-2 at Atletico Madrid in their opener.

"The Champions League is really the top [competition] for a player and coach, but at the same time we should also have fun," Sarri said.

“The only objective I’ve set for myself is to get through the group, then we’ll see. We must be carefree when taking to the field. The Champions League mustn’t become an obsession.

"At the moment, it's difficult for Italian teams to be among the favourites. English teams are favourites for obvious reasons but we should be easier on ourselves. The idea is to really cheer up a little bit."

Sarri said he would make his team selection after training on Monday, deciding who would play up front alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Playing Ronaldo, [Paulo] Dybala and [Gonzalo] Higuain all together from the start is a fascinating suggestion, but we are not ready yet for the level of balance required," said Sarri. "For now, we could only try this solution for parts of the match."

Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic said the team were learning to understand Sarri's strategy.

"A lot has changed," said Pjanic. "Everything can't be perfect after just one month, there's room from improvement.

"My playing style under [Massimiliano] Allegri was very different. I have more space and more freedom on the pitch."

The eight-time reigning Italian champions are unbeaten so far this season. They are up against a Bayer Leverkusen, who finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season, and are sixth this term.

The Germans slumped to a surprise 2-1 defeat at home against Lokomotiv Moscow in their opener. Leverkusen won 3-1 the last time the two teams met in 2001-02, when the Germans reached the final.

Their danger man could be 20-year-old German midfielder Kai Havertz, a player Sarri tipped to "become one of the most important players in Europe".

In the other Group D game, Lokomotiv host Atletico Madrid in Moscow.

Published: September 30, 2019 08:38 PM


Editor's Picks
Sign up to:

* Please select one