Rudi Garcia is about to experience his first ever Derby della Capitale. “You don’t play a derby, you win it.”
So far the French tactician has a 100 per cent record on the Roma bench, but his men face arch rivals Lazio on Sunday afternoon. Click here for a match preview.
This is the first clash since the Coppa Italia Final on May 26, which saw Lazio emerge 1-0 winners to take the trophy and book their spot in Europe.
“I was at Lille last season, so I didn’t see that game and I am not interested in it,” shrugged Garcia.
“The only connection is that it’s a derby, but this is a new season with a new Coach and things are different now.
“The most important thing is that we are approaching the game with nine points from three victories. We know this is an important match, but it is just one match. What I can say is that you don’t play a derby, you win it. That’s the same all over Europe.”
Yet the Derby della Capitale has often been referred to as the most bitter of all the local rivalries and even newcomer Gervinho has realised it is “more keenly felt” than anywhere else.
“Francesco Totti said that the Roman players feel this game more than anyone else. The team seems relaxed. The most important thing is that the match starts tomorrow afternoon and not before,” added Garcia.
“We’re playing at home and I’m sure the fans will be our 12th man. The derby cannot be a game like any other for me, but it is more special for the fans. We are fortunate enough to have three Romans in this squad, but it’s crucial not to have too much pressure. We want the three points, but it’s a derby and everyone knows it’s a different match.
“The Lille-Le Mans derby was something to see with 45,000 people, but I’m sure it will be very different here. It’s my first Rome Derby and I am very happy to experience it. To win this game would be fantastic.
“However, the fact remains that we judge a side on 10 matches rather than one. It’s better to win on Sunday, but the result will not change anything for the rest of the season.”
Lazio are fresh from a Europa League victory over Legia Warsaw on Thursday night.
“Lazio are a good side, but I know what it’s like to play in Europe, so I’m certain tomorrow they will have a dip in fitness levels. I don’t know whether it’ll be at the start of the game, the middle or the end, but that’s always what happens when a team plays three times in a week. We must make the most of that.
“Roma must play their game with enthusiasm and of course I don’t need to talk about motivation... When I arrived there was quite a negative vibe around the club, so it’s good that we started the season strong.
“Why have we only scored goals in the second half? I don’t think there’s a certain explanation, but my substitutes have done very well coming off the bench. I hope we can start scoring in the first half from tomorrow.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.