Lazio have a tough task to turn around a 2-0 first leg defeat to Fenerbahce, but Vladimir Petkovic assures “we believe that we can do it.”
The Biancocelesti were beaten in controversial circumstances in Turkey, as Eddy Onazi was sent off, there was a debatable penalty and a foul on Ederson in the box was not given.
To make matters worse, tomorrow’s Europa League quarter-final will be behind closed doors at the Stadio Olimpico, as Lazio complete their two-match ban for persistent racist chanting.
“The important thing is that the result arrives,” said Petkovic in his Press conference.
“We will need courage and patience to impose our style of football and seek a goal as soon as possible. We believe that we can do it.”
Onazi is suspended, while Stefan Radu and Ederson are among those battling injury problems.
“We are certainly not in an ideal situation, but in any case we can still achieve qualification, because we care a lot about this.
“It will require ‘a good day,’ as Fenerbahce are strong with an important club behind them and have everything it takes to compete in Europe. We are proud and do not want to give in. They are fast and know how to attack space, so we must play intelligently.
“I’d say our chances of qualification are less than 50 per cent, but many ties have been overturned in Europe this season and 2-0 is a dangerous result for everyone.
“It’s not nice playing without fans, as it takes something away from you. We still did well against Stuttgart behind closed doors, so you have to make up for the absence of the crowd by helping each other out.”
As the fans are barred from the stands, they will gather en masse to accompany the team bus from the Formello training ground to the Stadio Olimpico.
UEFA today warned there will be even stronger punishment in future for incidents of racism.
“Racism is an ugly thing and we are penalised tomorrow, but unfortunately I have heard abuse aimed at us too,” insisted Petkovic. “There has to be uniformity, as if one team is punished, then so must the others who do these things.”
The Coach hinted at a possible return to the three-man defence tomorrow evening and joked on the number of red cards and penalties Lazio have run into in Europe this season.
“I don’t think it is always the fault of my players. Perhaps we should play basketball-style and not touch our opponents at all...”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's World Cup tipster competition - £10,000 to be won!