Monday 14 October 2019

Sarri fears for safety of players over 'dangerous' surface

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. Photo: PA
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. Photo: PA

Ed Elliott

Maurizio Sarri fears for the safety of his Chelsea players after branding Dynamo Kiev's pitch "dangerous" and a "disaster".

Sarri's squad trained at Kiev's Olympic Stadium yesterday evening ahead of Thursday's Europa League last-16 second leg.

The Italian could be seen pointing at the playing surface as he spoke with members of his staff and feels it has hazardous bobbles, which are possibly caused by the freezing Ukraine winter and could cause injuries.

Asked his thoughts on the pitch, the head coach replied: "A disaster. The pitch is not good. I think that it's dangerous, really dangerous.

"It's really dangerous to play any football here in this moment, and I think it's really very dangerous for injuries.

"But the situation is this. So we have to accept the situation.

"I don't know the reason -probably the winter. I played here two years ago (with Napoli) and the pitch was wonderful."

The stadium was the venue for last season's Champions League final and also hosted two of England's matches at Euro 2012.

Sarri, whose side lead the tie 3-0 following last week's first leg in London, also criticised UEFA.

He thinks the governing body should be doing more to ensure pitches are in an adequate condition, rather than being consumed by more trivial matters.

"I cannot understand why UEFA haven't really given much attention to everything," he continued.

"You have to present the player list at a certain minute, and then we have to play on such a bad pitch."

Blues forward Willian, who scored a superb free-kick in first leg, shared his manager's concerns.

"We know that we have to take care of ourselves. Sometimes that's not possible," said the Brazilian.

"Sometimes it happens, you get injuries. But I hope, tomorrow, we just go there and play well and win this game.

"I think we've played on pitches that weren't the best as well, so we have to adapt."

Chelsea have a fully-fit squad for the game, aside from striker Gonzalo Higuain who did not travel after suffering illness since Sunday's Premier League draw against Wolves.

That result, which was secured by Eden Hazard's late goal, halted a run of three successive wins in all competitions to dent the club's hopes of a top-four finish.

Sarri again faced questions about his long-term future but the 60-year-old said he was unconcerned about his position.

Asked whether he will still be in charge at Stamford Bridge next season, he replied: "I don't know. I don't mind at the moment.

"For me, now, the next match is very important, and the next match against Everton.

"For me, the next season at the moment is too far (away).

"I want to be focused on these matches, first of all."

Dynamo Kiev v Chelsea, Live, BT Sport 3, 5.55

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