Sarri: ‘Immobile is doing better, Europe like this is a problem’

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Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri claims the European games are currently ‘a problem’ and revealed striker Ciro Immobile is doing ‘better’ ahead of the clash with Lokomotiv Moscow.

After the defeat to Juventus, Sarri returns to focus on the Europa League and the big game against Lokomotiv Moscow on Thursday.

Sarri knows it will be a different match against the Russians this time, as they have changed coach since last time.

“After the change of coach, they are a slightly different team,” Sarri said at a press conference. “I expect a difficult game, the conditions are there for it to be like this.

“To move forward in Europe, we need to get through this game, they have at least a hop of a play-off, so with these conditions the match should not be simple.

“It will be an open game, we’ll see, but it will be much more difficult than in the first leg.”

Sarri faced his former club Juventus last time and prepares for another ex in the next league game, as the Biancocelesti face Napoli in the upcoming Serie A round.

But the coach is only focused on the task in hand on Thursday and doesn’t want to get distracted by the next appointment domestically.

“We have to disregard the rest and take one game at a time,” he said. “If you think that after 72 hours you have to play away in Naples again, you can be led to make different choices.

“We think about tomorrow’s match and then we will think about the match after, we don’t like to be too conditioned.”

Sarri was asked about the players’ conditions and especially striker Immobile, who returned injured from international duty.

“What matters is the moment a player goes through,” he said. “It’s clear that those who go to the national team are having a much higher amount of playing time.

“In the statistics, the minutes in the league are shown as if you are in the cup or in the national team without getting tired.

“The minutes to take into account are the global ones, for now, the lads are holding up well and until they show signs of slowing down, that’s OK.

“It’s clear that during the season, the costs will arise for everyone. Immobile is doing well, he participated in the first and second training, where he didn’t feel pain, but he had different sensations between one calf and the other.

“In the last two workouts he didn’t even have that feeling anymore. He’s pretty good, but he’s a player who trained little, almost nothing, over the last two weeks.”

Sarri was asked if the Europa League should be abandoned by Lazio or considered a real target for the club.

“I said that for us it’s not a small problem,” he added. “Considering playing away on Thursday night.

“But I also said that we will go there and play for it, as it should be. We cannot think of going around Europe without looking to advance.

“We want to get there, then if you ask me if Europe like this is a problem, I’ll say yes. Until a few years ago, when we played on Thursday nights in Europe, then we played on Monday nights in the league.

“Now, this almost never happens. But it’s a calendar problem, which leads to a deterioration in the quality of the matches, including injuries and loss of form.

“I’m amazed that the association of footballers is silent. They fought to have an extra week of holiday at Christmas, it would seem more right to fight for this type of problem.”

Sarri was coy about the formation against Lokomotiv ‘out of respect towards the players’, as he was asked about Lucas Leiva’s conditions.

“I will never answer this question,” he said. “I will not tell you who plays tomorrow, out of respect towards the players.

“Leiva is doing better, he has had a small deterioration of normal form. Compared to 20 days ago, he is much better and also feels brighter than two or three weeks ago.”

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