Maurizio Sarri has admitted that he was surprised at Rafa Benitez’s tactics during Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park this afternoon.
Chelsea have already started to adapt Maurizio Sarri’s ‘Sarri-ball’ style of play, which helped Napoli finish in second place in Serie A last season with a record 91 points.
There has been evidence in The Blues’ opening games to the season that they are finally getting to grips with Sarri’s dynamic and attacking approach, but they were forced to work hard to make it three wins out of three against Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle side.
Benitez, who of course previously managed at both Chelsea and Napoli, set his side up with a back five of De Andre Yedlin, Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett, much to the surprise of the Chelsea boss.
“I have never seen a Rafa Benitez side play with five defenders. I think it is very difficult to play here for every team – not only us. We were a bit unlucky when they scored to make it 1-1,” Sarri told Sky Sports.
Sarri also described the game as ‘very difficult’ as his side had to rely on a contentious penalty and an own goal to maintain their 100% start to the season to keep pace with early leaders, Liverpool.
Benitez meanwhile was unhappy with the referee’s decision to award the penalty which led to the game’s opening goal.