Dionisi: ‘We are just at the beginning’


Sassuolo boss Alessio Dionisi believes his team are ‘just at the beginning’ of their journey and ‘can’t wait’ for the match against Lazio. The Neroverdi host Maurizio Sarri’s men this evening, with both sides level on points, but have had more players away on international duty. Speaking of the match, Dionisi addressed his post match comments from their draw against Lecce two weeks away, where he claimed his side had dominated the later periods of the encounter, something he wanted to clear up when chatting with the press:

How has this break been?

“Last week was a transitional week, this one is different because it leads up to the game which we only prepared for today with all the players, yesterday that was not the case, but we have already been working since last week in relation to Lazio. We still haven’t finished working for this match. Obviously we can’t wait to get back on the pitch, training alone isn’t enough for us, we measure ourselves against our opponents and I’m looking forward to doing it against a team as strong as Lazio, who proved it last year by finishing second with merit, having strengthened the team, having a good coach, it will be difficult but good”.

Lazio have the same points as Sassuolo: how come?

“We are just at the beginning, we are built for different goals. We’ve played few games yet and there is more balance: this says that either Lazio have done less or we have done more. I think about us, I have regrets for some games, to date we cannot think that we have grown and improved, we have made some half-efforts but also some important performances, we have to measure ourselves against other opponents to understand who we are’.

How is the situation of the infirmary?

“Obiang, Matheus Henrique, Viti won’t be there and there is Alvarez who is a bit far from returning and is working to come back stronger than before. Toljan will be back. Bajrami and Vina are the last to be back, they will do part of the training today.”

Will there be any changes?

“Some choices will be due to these two weeks of work, bearing in mind that it’s not a pity if someone trains and plays with the national teams, I have to take into account those who managed to put minutes in their legs and those who did less training and didn’t play, considering also those who return with a good condition and those who less. Making a general evaluation will be the summary of this. I don’t want to distort the characteristics of the players and so depending on the system of play that there is, then there are the qualities of the opponents and those of ours that I will try never to distort. At the tactical level there will be continuity, it being understood that depending on the characteristics of the opponents we will work in one way or another”.

Can Vina and Bajrami start already?

“Berardi also returned late, Domenico played on Tuesday evening as did Vina and Bajrami. Actually of the three the one who arrived later is Vina but he is the one who has played the least. I’m making evaluations, we’ll make them today after today’s training, it’s not certain that all three will be on the pitch, but maybe they will be from the start. Those who go to the national team must not be penalised, we must take into account the fact that they return later, perhaps tired.

Boloca thanked you for your trust: will you play with Racic on Saturday?

“I haven’t made the final assessments. Boloca is playing, with ups and downs, he is doing well. He’ll have to be good at managing that because it’s not easy to arrive, to establish yourself, but it’s much more difficult to reconfirm yourself. We all still have answers to give. I am very happy with his attitude and his growth, as I was saying about the players who were playing less, for example Racic, who played a good game in Lecce. There is also Thorstvedt, who I consider a midfielder. He got some minutes fortunately in the national team. It’s normal that one tries to give continuity, I try to choose in the best way’.

On Wednesday Lazio will have the Champions League: mentally can he take something away from them?

“The hope is yes, the thought is no. We had nine players with national teams, Lazio paradoxically only had three. In a break period when the big teams usually provide so many players for the national teams, we have sent so many away. This is not to our advantage, we will find a Lazio team that is very performing, and this is stimulating, I like it, also because in the last matches with Lazio we were not 100 per cent performing, but tomorrow’s match counts.

After the match against Lecce there was talk of your post-match comment, when you  said that from the 50th minute onwards there was domination by Sassuolo. That term, ‘domination’, caused discussion. Would you like to explain further?

“For me it’s water under the bridge. I’m training in criticism, in social media. Probably the right word was not domination. We had 70 per cent territorial supremacy in the second half and there is also a lot of dead time, you don’t see that 70 per cent so often. My word was wrong, the right word perhaps would have been ‘the ball of the game’ and I had the feeling we could win it, even though Lecce had their opportunities. Sometimes you use the wrong words and create arguments for nothing’.

Does the presence or absence of Immobile change anything in the choice of men in defence?

“Honestly no. I think Castellanos is a very good player, Immobile we know. We tend to evaluate players who don’t play in the A league, last year Castellanos scored 13 goals in La Liga, in a league with Real and Barcelona, so he is a top player, who has important qualities, different from Immobile, but the choices will also be made based on the characteristics of the players.

From tomorrow you will have even more pressure because during the break Pep Guardiola’s comments arrived: ‘Who will win the Scudetto? I hope Sassuolo. Now you have to work not to disappoint Pep’s expectations.

‘We should start from the top for this goal, but it was a joke that pleased everyone. When a coach of that calibre talks about this club, this club, it means that this club is doing a good job. It’s a joke and should be taken as such, but it’s still nice to be talked about.”

What do you say about Sarri? He’s always there writing on little sheets….

“I know him by reputation, in person, very little. I don’t know what he writes in the little notes, I don’t think it distracts attention from the game. Last year I said that Lazio would do well, I have great esteem and great respect.

On the betting scandal:

“I prefer not to express myself. I’ve read so many comments, so many sentences, and I believe that if someone makes a mistake in life they must pay, whether it’s football, life, work, but the mistake that is made is to judge before the sentence, far be it from me to do this. I’m not well-informed, I don’t think I need to go any further than that’.

Did Berardi, Frattesi and Scamacca together at Wembley affect you?

“I’m Italian and I celebrate when Italy wins, I looked at it with more curiosity seeing that there are players who have passed through Sassuolo, even previous to me, however it’s my third year here and there were four players I coached here, and fortunately one I coach here and I hope to coach him again, that is Berardi. This is a satisfaction for the club, as is Guardiola who mentions Sassuolo, but to see players who have passed through here do well with the national team is a pleasure.”


Serie A obsessive.