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Sarri has ‘great respect’ for under-pressure Torino boss Mazzarri ahead of derby

Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri has paid tribute to under-fire Torino counterpart Walter Mazzarri before Saturday’s Turin derby.

Mazzarri was recently given public backing by Torino president Urbano Cairo, but his side have won only one of their last eight Serie A matches and sit 13th in the table.

“We have to give the utmost respect to Mazzarri for the great experience he has,” former Chelsea boss Sarri told a press conference.

“I have great respect for him and for what he has done with Torino during his cycle.”

Mazzarri, who spent the 2016-17 season in charge at Watford, was appointed as Torino boss in January 2018 and has guided them to ninth- and seventh-placed finishes.

“I’m expecting a highly motivated Torino, one that will fight,” Sarri said. “It will be important for us that we keep the game on track and to one that suits our characteristics.”

Juve, chasing a record-extending ninth Serie A title, are unbeaten in all competitions under Sarri, who replaced Massimiliano Allegri in June.

The Bianconeri are currently top, one point ahead of Inter Milan, and travel to play Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Sarri is expected to retain Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala up front, meaning Gonzalo Higuain must be patient.

“When both Ronaldo and Dybala are on the field, the most ideal solution is to play with a playmaker,” Sarri added.

“Gonzalo Higuain is a great player and, after the difficult year he had, I saw him have great motivation over the summer. He is demonstrating his quality.”

Sarri will make late decisions on whether to include Aaron Ramsey and Miralem Pjanic in his plans following their recent injuries, while midfielder Adrien Rabiot is suspended.

Torino’s Cameroonian defender Nicolas Nkoulou is suspended following his dismissal at Lazio on Wednesday, while centre-half Kevin Bonifazi and Venezuela international Tomas Rincon are a week away from recovering from injuries.

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