Lazio captain Stefano Mauri admits the Coppa Italia Final against Roma “is the most important game of my career.”
The tension is escalating ahead of the 17.00 UK time kick-off at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening.
Biancocelesti communications director Stefano De Martino even confirmed that several Lazio players received threatening phone calls early this morning, warning them to lose the match.
Mauri sat alongside Coach Vladimir Petkovic in the Press conference and is ready to play despite recurring injury problems.
“Winning a trophy is important and it gives you the chance to take part in the Italian Super Cup and Europa League too. We certainly had other ambitions this season, but there were some negative moments we could’ve handled better.
“Let’s just say this match can put the season back on track, but at the same time we mustn’t throw away everything we’ve done.
“This is the most important game of my career. I’ve played in other Finals with Lazio, but this one represents so much on a local and Italian level that I think it has to stand out from the rest.”
Lazio won the Coppa on penalties against Sampdoria in 2009, while Roma’s last triumph in this competition was in 2008.
“I think this team is stronger than it was in 2009,” continued Mauri. “The derby is a strange game, especially with it being a Final and in Rome. There is so much pressure and it’s a tough match to play in, but I know this side is ready for the challenge.
“I hope there will be entertainment and spectacle on the field without any ugly events. The Roma and Lazio fans must prove they are great supporters and also good people.”
The Biancocelesti spent the last few days in a training camp in Norcia, far away from the pressures of the Capital, and worked with a mental coach while there.
“He is an important figure. There are many details that people don’t know and having someone to teach you how to handle certain things is important. It’s a long-term process that has to be approached step by step.”