Roberto De Zerbi expresses confidence in his players’ preparedness for their first European adventure, provided they seize the opportunity that awaits them.
Despite experiencing a setback with a 4-1 defeat against Newcastle in a clash between top-six challengers, the Seagulls are poised to bounce back.
They are set to face relegated Southampton on Sunday, understanding that securing victories in two of their final three matches against the Saints, league champions Manchester City, and Aston Villa will guarantee them a spot in the top six and the accompanying benefits.
Reflecting on a bruising evening on Tyneside, De Zerbi said: “We are not used to playing three games in a week and we suffered a lot.
“There are many players – for example Moises Caicedo, Pervis [Estupinan] in the first half – they didn’t play well, but I love them. They have to learn to play two games in four days.
“Next year we will be better, but we will be ready to play every day.”
The defeat at St James’ Park came in Brighton’s fourth game in 15 days, a run which includes famous victories over Manchester United and Arsenal, but also a 5-1 home drubbing by Everton.
De Zerbi chose to exclude some of his starters
De Zerbi made the decision to exclude on-loan Chelsea defender Levi Colwill from the matchday squad in the northeast. Alexis Mac Allister, Julio Enciso, and Evan Ferguson were selected to start on the bench.
Due to a number of injuries affecting his squad, including key players such as Solly March, Adam Lallana, Adam Webster, Joel Veltman, Jakub Moder, Jeremy Sarmiento, Enock Mwepu, and Tariq Lamptey, the manager faced a difficult decision when it came to selecting his team. He acknowledged the challenge at hand and expressed his concerns.
However, he added: “Yes, but we have to be strong in a difficult period, a tough period. I don’t like making any excuses, but we have eight, nine, I don’t know, I don’t remember how many injuries we have now.
“We are playing four games in 12 days. The first XI today, Colwill wasn’t available to play, Mac Allister can’t play 90 minutes today and 90 minutes on Sunday, Welbeck, Buonanotte, Gilmour and Undav the same.”