Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri ‘surprised’ by ultra-defensive tactics of Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri ‘surprised’ by ultra-defensive tactics of Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri was surprised at the ultra-defensive tactics of Rafael Benitez in the Blues’ 2-1 victory at St James’ Park.

Sarri’s side had 82% of possession but still relied on a controversial Eden Hazard penalty and a late own-goal from DeAndre Yedlin after Joselu looked to have rescued a point for Newcastle.

Sarri and Benitez have both managed Napoli

Benitez was Napoli manager before Sarri inherited his position in 2015, and earlier in the week, the Italian had praised his predecessor for his work in Naples.

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It therefore came as a surprise to the Chelsea boss when he was faced with a different Benitez team to the one he knows.

Sarri said: “It was a very difficult game for us.

Benitez was forced to defend for 90 minutes against Chelsea

Benitez was forced to defend for 90 minutes against Chelsea

“I think here [St James’ Park] is very difficult for every team. Last season Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal lost here.

“I was surprised at the beginning because in Italy I have never seen Rafa [Benitez] play with five defenders. So I was really surprised.

“Newcastle were very compact, so we could only move the ball and be patient.”


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