Sarri not afraid of Lazio or Juve future ahead of key clash

Milan (AFP) –


Maurizio Sarri insisted Sunday he had no fear of Lazio nor his future as Juventus coach as he prepared his team for Monday's crunch Serie A clash against a team his side have lost to twice this season.

"Have you ever asked a Formula One driver are you afraid of speed? It's part of the job," said Sarri.

"Everything goes well if you win and bad if you lose, but there's no need to be afraid, this Juventus is a team which is used to fighting.

"I'm happier feeling someone breathing down my neck."

Reigning champions Juventus have seen a dip in form since the coronavirus lockdown, and are on a three-game winless run, picking up just two points and conceding nine goals in matches against AC Milan, Atalanta and Sassuolo.

The league leaders hold a six-point cushion on second-placed Inter Milan, who can cut the gap when they play Roma later on Sunday.

"We came up against teams in great shape, it is a strange time we're playing in which is unique in the history of football," said Sarri.

Lazio had been just a point behind Juventus before the lockdown but are now eight points adrift, having lost four of seven games since the league returned to action last month.

Lazio beat Juventus 3-1 twice in December -- in the reverse Serie A fixture in Rome and the Italian Super Cup final.

"In a single game everything can change, so the difficulty of this game speaks for itself," warned Sarri.

"Lazio have had a great season, they have proven to be a great team even if they are going through a difficult period.

"This is a team we have always struggled against."

- Maiden league title -

Sarri led Chelsea to the Europa League title last season before replacing Massimiliano Allegri, who took Juve to five of their current run of eight consecutive Serie A titles but paid for two runners-up finishes in the Champions League.

The 61-year-old Sarri is targeting the first league title in his 30-year coaching career and with his team also attempting to overhaul a 1-0 first-leg deficit to French club Lyon in the Champions League last 16, he insists he wants to continue in the Turin hot seat next season.

"I have a contract and I want to honour it at all costs," said Sarri.

"At Chelsea there was a different situation, I liked the idea of going to England. Then last summer I wanted to come back to Italy.

"But the future is tomorrow and we have to think about every single game. All the rest comes as a result."

Lazio, meanwhile, are chasing a third Scudetto in the club's history and first since 2000.

"I certainly had imagined it differently," said coach Simone Inzaghi, whose side had been on a 21-match unbeaten league run before the three-month virus break.

"Unfortunately we had problems after the championship was suspended, but we're going to have a great game without making any excuses and thinking about injury absences.

"We still have something to achieve in qualification for the Champions League, a goal that has been there and that has been missing for 13 years."