Vladimir Petkovic admits he faces a tricky few days to keep Lazio focused on Panathinaikos ahead of the Rome Derby. “It’s a shame they are so close.”
The Biancocelesti’s confidence is already hit hard by last week’s 4-0 defeat to Catania and their Europa League 1-1 draw in Greece, which was snatched in the final moments of a match dominated by the Italians.
“After a heavy defeat, you have to prove that you’ve got character,” said Petkovic in his Press conference.
“I hope this can all help us to improve. I consider the Catania defeat to be like the pre-season one with Getafe, where we all looked each other in the eye and got our feet on the ground.”
The Coach insists squad rotation ahead of Sunday’s Serie A showdown with rivals Roma is not on his mind.
“I always try to play the best team for this moment. After all, tomorrow we are also playing for three golden points. It’s a shame the Derby is so close to the Europa League match.
“Panathinaikos have grown and rediscovered their confidence, but we are playing at home and so must focus on ourselves.
“I am certainly not snubbing Europe, as we want to push forward and win tomorrow to secure qualification. I have to make some calculations so that I can win both games.
“I don’t know if on Sunday we’ll see the best Lazio, as I am not a wizard. In any case, I have faith and it will be important to win in order to lift morale.”
Ederson is again ruled out, but goalkeeper Federico Marchetti and defender Stefan Radu are back in the squad.
“Radu’s recovery can help us make that step up in quality, also increasing the competitiveness in the centre and on the flanks.
“I will decide tomorrow morning whether or not Marchetti will start. Hernanes is in good shape, I just have to decide whether to use him.”