Sunday March 1 2015
Garcia explains Scudetto claim

Rudi Garcia joked he suffered “divine punishment” for promising Roma the Scudetto, but still believes they can beat Juventus.

The top two go head-to-head on Monday at 20.00 GMT, click here for a match preview.

“We said we wanted to play both our tournaments to the full and we proved that in Rotterdam,” said the Coach after a 2-1 Europa League victory over Feyenoord.

“Now all that counts is this game and we want to win it. Nothing changes on the fact our destiny is not ultimately in our hands – or feet – but maintaining second place is the only way to attack first.”

There is a nine-point gap at the top of the table, so does Garcia now regret saying Roma would win the Scudetto after their 3-2 defeat in Turin?

“Considering your obsession with asking me about this, I can say perhaps I suffered divine punishment for this sin of pride.

“However, if I said that, it was to counter an atmosphere of obsessive pessimism around Roma. It wasn’t a stupid or ill-thought-out message. I think to maintain motivation and ambition, we need to do this.

“We won’t stop at this season, but look beyond at Roma’s future and challenging for years to come. This isn’t to be completed in just a few days.

“It is true we have been unlucky this year with injuries, but we also made mistakes and nobody is perfect. I want to say next time someone asks me about this, I will tell them to get lost!

“Roma’s destiny is to win, to challenge for the Scudetto and we hope one day in Europe too. We must prove ourselves ready for this destiny. With that phrase I wanted to give back pride to those fans who haven’t won many titles.”

As for the present, Juventus remain nine points clear at the top, mainly thanks to Roma’s run of four consecutive home stalemates.

“We really want to get back to celebrating at the Olimpico. I am sure the lads will give their all and we must make the most of the enthusiasm we brought from Rotterdam. To have a team that is 100 per cent, they must feel the love of the Roma fans around them.”

Alessandro Florenzi has recovered and Juan Manuel Iturbe “can play an hour or so,” but Douglas Maicon, Seydou Doumbia and Victor Ibarbo miss out.

Garcia famously criticised refereeing decisions in the last game with Juventus and continued to bring the issue up months later, but he’s eager to set that aside now.

“The only thing that matters is the current context. Talking about the past is pointless, we want a great future.

“This is second against first and when that happens the second team is always highly motivated. I hope to see a wonderful game of football with fair play and a warm atmosphere in the stands. We want to leave the Stadio Olimpico with our heads held high.”