Edy Reja admits that to beat Juventus on Wednesday night will be difficult, but that he hopes at least fortune favours his Aquile this time around.
The Biancocelesti go into Week 32 hoping to become the first team to beat Antonio Conte’s Juve this season, so as to maintain their advantage in trying to secure the third and final Champions League qualification position in the table.
Whilst the Bianconeri boast a strong League record over his team, including three consecutive wins over them going into this fixture, Reja may be realistic, but also maintains hope.
“Winning against Juventus is very difficult, but every game has its own story,” he said at his pre-match Press conference.
“If we consider the previous matches with Juventus, last year we lost in the final minute and this season we lost but it wasn’t deserved for the performance we put in. I hope that luck can turn in favour of Lazio this time.
“We know that they work well on the wings, have good strikers and midfielders who are very fit. They are a team who has everything - character, temperament and quality.
“The table is telling. I have to compliment Conte on an extraordinary job. He has added a particular mentality to the team.
“I used the 3-5-2 formation [Conte now uses] at Napoli and it was said that I was old. Conte uses it and it is said that he is a genius.
“Beyond this he has introduced a very important philosophy, especially for a team like Juve who always play to win on all fronts.
“They are first in the League and a Coppa Italia final to play and I consider that they’ll remain top until the end. Milan are not going through a good patch and are paying for their European commitments.”
Reja celebrates his 100th game in charge of Lazio tomorrow night.
“It’s nice, very nice. Moreover, we come from an important result like the one against Napoli. Now we have two away and we will try to return home with some points.
“Tomorrow we have some difficulties, but surely we will enter the field and try to battle for 90 minutes.
“The forecast says Juve [will win], but we feel good mentally and physically. When I have picked players who have played less than others, they have always performed. This is my hope again.”
The tactician also refused to rule former side Napoli out of the running for third place, despite their six-point deficit to Lazio.
“We have a good margin, but I do not think they are out of the race. We need 65-66 points. Then we must see game after game as to whether or not this average will be enough. There are teams who can still fight for third place.
“We have stuttered a few times, but we are still in this position. The margin, however, is still not enough.”
Reja also passed comment on speculation linking Alessandro Nesta with a move away from Milan this summer. A former Lazio youth product and notable player, he has been linked with Juve this week.
“Nesta is a great player whose quality is not only as a professional but also in his behaviour. I have heard that Juventus are interested, it is clear that he cannot play 60 games a season, but I think that he could still be useful to Juve even in this light.
“As for us, based on our final League ranking we will evaluate things and consider signing an important player. He knows the environment at Lazio but I do not know if he would agree to end his career in Rome.
“He is Laziale, but objections and protests are always just around the corner. Clearly he is a player that would suit everyone, but think he will stay at Milan.”