Edy Reja believes today’s trip to Parma is “the crossroads for Lazio’s ambitions” this season, as they continue to push for a Champions League spot.
The Biancocelesti lost two on the bounce this month, but retained third place, and are now three points clear of Napoli and Udinese.
“The match with Parma will be the crossroads for Lazio’s ambitions,” declared the Coach.
“Considering the fixture list and the positions in the table, this game has fundamental importance for us. We cannot afford to slip up right now.
“At the same time, Parma’s players are ready to give the game of their lives to drag themselves out of the relegation battle. Roberto Donadoni is a good tactician, who is well-prepared and humble despite his extraordinary career as a player.”
Lazio have struggled through an injury crisis for most of the campaign, and are still without Miroslav Klose, but Reja finally had some good news.
“I should be able to field my first choice defence. Despite coming from a poor run of results, the team is not worried at all. I still haven’t decided whether to use a one-striker system or a diamond midfield. I still have to evaluate it.
“I have to consider whether Alvaro Gonzalez, Cristian Ledesma and Hernanes need to rest, as they have played a lot this season. In attack I can choose from Tommaso Rocchi, Emiliano Alfaro and Libor Kozak. It’s been like this all year, as so few times I’ve had a full squad to choose from.”
Lazio, Napoli and Udinese are within a three-point radius, but Reja believes the race for third is still wide open.
“As there will be many head-to-head clashes, I think the trailing sides can also get back into the running. Clearly we are more aware of our strength than we were last season, so we must at all costs find the right physical and psychological energy to keep going.
“We absolutely do not want to let this chance slip away again, the way we did last year. I expect Parma to play prudently at first, then raise the tempo and put more of the ball down the flanks.”
Lazio squad: Berardi, Bizzarri, Marchetti; Biava, Dias, Radu, Garrido, Konko, Scaloni; Brocchi, Cana, Candreva, Gonzalez, Hernanes, Ledesma, Matuzalem, Mauri; Kozak, Rocchi, Alfaro