Tottenham vs Chelsea: Maurizio Sarri admits he underestimated rivalry before loss 'destroyed' his players

Matt McGeehan
Tuesday 08 January 2019 09:33
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Carabao Cup match preview: Tottenham v Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri admits he underestimated Chelsea's rivalry with Tottenham before observing how defeat "destroyed" his players following November's loss at Wembley.

Chelsea conceded twice in the opening 16 minutes as Spurs inflicted Sarri's first competitive defeat, ending an 18-match unbeaten run.

Sarri afterwards bemoaned his side's attitude, but he could see the disappointment in the Wembley changing room, which may drive his players in Tuesday night's Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.

"I saw my players in the dressing room after the match. They were destroyed," Sarri said.

"I realised the real situation. I realised that the match against Tottenham is a very important match for the club, the fans and the players.

"So, of course, now, for me, this match is more important. Now I think I know everything, so I think I will be ready and I hope the same for my players."

Sarri and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino are seeking the first major trophies of their careers.

The Italian, who is 60 this week, pointed to Pochettino having been at Tottenham since May 2014 and agreed that the Argentine needs to win a trophy to prove his managerial pedigree.

Sarri, who was appointed last July, added: "He is a very good coach, one of the best at the moment, I agree he has to win a trophy, I hope not this (one)."

Sarri also highlighted the time it has taken Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City's Pep Guardiola to develop successful teams, adding: "To build up a very important team you need time."

Sarri even compared the much-derided League Cup with the Champions League, given the calibre of opposition in Chelsea's way.

Sarri underestimated the rivalry between the two teams

The Blues beat Liverpool in the third round and could play Manchester City in the final, if they beat Spurs. City play Burton in the second semi-final.

Sarri, whose side also beat Derby and Bournemouth to reach the last four, added: "It is like to play in the Champions League, I think, for the League Cup.

"Here (in England) everything is really, really very difficult. The level of opponent is a really high level."

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