Watford’s Javi Gracia confessed he is not entirely sure what the term ‘Sarriball’ means but believes Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri is one of the best around.
The Hornets face Chelsea on Sunday and need a win to keep their hopes of a top-seven finish alive – albeit their chances will already be over should Wolves beat Fulham on Saturday.
Chelsea also need the three points, as the race for the top four and Champions League qualification via Premier League placing heads down to the wire.
Sarri’s possession-based style of play drew plaudits at the start of the campaign, though pressure reportedly remains on the Italian’s position.
And while acknowledging his ignorance of the phrase coined to describe Sarri’s philosophy, Gracia stressed his respect for his Chelsea counterpart.
“I don’t know what ‘Sarriball’ is. I don’t know why it’s this expression, I don’t understand,” Gracia told a news conference.
“I think Sarri is a great coach, he has done really well in different countries, different leagues.
“In my opinion he’s one of the best and he deserves all of my respect.”
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Eden Hazard has been crucial for Chelsea this season, scoring 19 goals across all competitions, and Gracia is fully aware of the threat the Belgian, who netted twice in the Blues’ 2-1 win at Vicarage Road in December, is likely to pose to his side.
“I prefer to speak more about the team because we play against Chelsea, not only against Hazard,” Gracia added.
“We know Hazard is a special player. In the first game he played as a striker, but probably he’ll play as a left winger in this game.
“We know, we try to defend well when he has the ball because he always is able to do something different, but we always have a collective mentality to defend or attack.”
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