Vladimir Petkovic is glad Roma are seen as the favourites in the Derby della Capitale. “It’ll give Lazio something to prove.”
The Biancocelesti won their last encounter, the bitter Coppa Italia Final on May 26 that was decided by a Senad Lulic strike. The local rivals meet again on Sunday at 14.00 UK time (13.00 GMT), click here for a match preview.
“All the pundits seem to suggest Roma are the absolute favourites to win this game. This pleases me, as it gives Lazio something to prove,” smiled Petkovic in his Press conference.
“This will require mental strength, calm and concentration for the full 90 minutes. Roma are a fine squad and proved themselves with three straight victories. However, they have weaknesses and we must take advantage of them.
“This is the first day I will actually sit the players down and give them a lesson on Roma’s strengths and weaknesses. We have forgotten what happened in the Coppa Italia, as need to learn about them all over again.
“We need to stay calm and approach this game with pleasure in front of our fans. We want to set a certain image for all of Europe and it is a bit of a different encounter, but it’s still worth three points.
“Roma are strong in their passing, but also down the flanks. We must make life difficult for them, but also be good at soaking up pressure. We need to remain a compact squad.
“There are so many expectations, as this is a match that is experienced all year round. It will be a difficult game that can be decided by the tiniest detail.”
It is somewhat unusual to have the Rome Derby with two foreign Coaches, as Roma boss Rudi Garcia is French.
“Garcia earned some prestigious results in France, while I arrived in Italy as an unknown. Nobody would give me credit. Last year we saw that the important thing is not starting the season well, but ending it on the right note.”
That Coppa Italia victory gave Lazio their ticket into the Europa League, where they squeezed past Legia Warsaw 1-0 on Thursday night.
“We only played two days ago, so we must show we’ve got the right energy to beat Roma. There are many things still to improve, as I’d like concentration for the full 90 minutes and communication between players. I expect great character against Roma, as we must win the game.”
The poor start to the season and disappointing transfer campaign have seen Lazio ticket sales slump, as so far only 13,200 have been snapped up by the ‘away’ fans.
“Roma will feel at home because they have more supporters in the stadium, but I am sure the Curva Nord will be packed.”