Coughing Jansen looks forward to meeting with Lazio coach Sarri, but does not smoke himself
Coughing Jansen looks forward to meeting with Lazio coach Sarri, but doesn’t smoke himself
AZ coach Pascal Jansen is looking forward to the eighth final against Lazio in the Conference League, also considering the opponent’s coach, Maurizio Sarri. The flamboyant coach, who has previously been at the helm of Juventus, Chelsea, Napoli and seventeen other clubs, was filmed smoking a cigarette during Lazio’s training session earlier in the day.
Has Jansen ever done the same? The AZ coach spontaneously gets a coughing fit when asked that question, but answers in the negative: “No, I don’t smoke. Oh well, everyone has to do what makes them happy and I know he likes to smoke a cigarette. He is a very experienced coach with a fantastic resume. He plays beautiful soccer with his teams, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
AZ hopes to take a first step toward the quarter-finals on Tuesday. It will be a duel between the number three of the premier league against the number three of Serie A.
Lazio, who just beat Napoli 1-0 on Friday, therefore seem to be the clear favorite given their status in the league. “I think so,” confirmed captain Jordy Clasie during the Alkmaarers’ press conference in Rome. “But we mainly focus on ourselves and want to enjoy ourselves above all.”
Coach Pascal Jansen does not want to label Lazio as favorites right now: “We are always very good at thinking up all kinds of scenarios before a match and pointing out favorites. It is clear that Lazio do have a slight advantage over AZ, which is not surprising either. But the truth is always on the pitch.”
The 64-year-old Sarri was particularly complimentary of AZ and Dutch soccer at his press conference earlier in the day. “The only thing I don’t like about Dutch soccer are the fans of Feyenoord,” Sarri spoke.
The Italian was referring to the Europa League group match at De Kuip on Nov. 3, when Feyenoord supporters threw cups of beer and, according to Sarri, even urine at Lazio’s technical staff. Lazio lost the match 1-0 and had to continue in the Conference League.
During the first group game with Feyenoord on Sept. 8, Lazio played the best soccer of the season for an hour, Sarri also managed to tell. The Italians outplayed Feyenoord for an hour that night and led 4-0. In the end, Feyenoord saved the honor with two goals.
AZ captain Clasie itches for European game in Rome: ‘Lazio is clear favorite’
“It was an impressive match,” Jansen remembers. “You could clearly see the soccer Sarri is aiming for. A lot of combination soccer across midfield and a high intelligence on the pitch in terms of understanding the game and the choices they make.”
“Feyenoord had a very difficult time, but we are a different team and we have also grown this season, just like Lazio has grown on. Tomorrow we will fight it out with each other.”
AZ will do so, as always, with a plan. “We have our own ideas and our own identity, that has brought us where we are now. We also do see Lazio’s weaknesses and we are going to try to exploit those tomorrow,” Jansen said.