Zdenek Zeman warns Rome Derby newcomers “will realise what it means when they step on to the field” against Lazio tomorrow afternoon.
The Coach is an old hand at this fixture, having been on both the Roma and Lazio benches during his career.
“The players who had already been through this will be accustomed to it, while the new ones will realise what it means when they step on to the field,” said Zeman in his Press conference.
“The derby I remember the most is my first with Lazio, we lost 3-0. I have been happy at both clubs, though Roma have the more passionate fanbase.”
Lazio are currently ahead of their rivals in the standings and are fresh from a 3-0 Europa League demolition of Panathinaikos on Thursday.
“How do I stop Hernanes? I prepare my team against another team, not against individuals. I do not know Vladimir Petkovic well, but he is doing a good job with an organised style of football that is troubling everyone.”
There had been an attempt to calm the pre-derby atmosphere by organising a joint Press conference between the two Coaches, but Lazio shot down the idea.
“Quite rightly, Lazio did not have time because they played on Thursday. I hope it can happen next time,” shrugged Zeman.
“In the 4-1 win over Palermo we were able to play attacking football for 90 minutes and get a good result against a side that had been unbeaten in five. I hope we can now add a sense of consistency.”
Maarten Stekelenburg, Bogdan Lobont and the suspended Mattia Destro are the only absentees , so Mauro Goicoechea starts in goal, but Zeman won’t rule out surprises.
“In my eyes the hierarchy changes every week, as this is a competitive squad where everyone can be useful and it’s up to me to find the right solution at that particular moment.
“I have faith in Goicoechea and he played two good games so far. The derby can be decided by anyone who steps on to the field.
“I already have a line-up in mind and know what I want to do, but I’ll take the next day and a half to deepen my analysis. Daniele De Rossi trained almost every day this week and has a slight problem, but he is at our disposal. Did I test him in central midfield? Yes, that is an option, as are many others.”
Destro sits out a ban after he received his second yellow card for over-celebrating a goal.
“He was naive. He got it wrong and I hope he learns from this, but many more experienced players than him have made the same mistake.”
Finally, Zeman was asked to send his message to the ultras of both Roma and Lazio.
“I understand this is a derby and the fans love their teams, so together we can make this a spectacle and present good football. At the end of the day we’ll see who has done better. The vast majority of people come to the stadium to cheer on their side.”