Maurizio Sarri admits the Rome Derby makes him feel ‘butterflies’ in his stomach, but also insists he felt more pressure in Serie C than on the Lazio bench against Roma.
It kicks off on Sunday at 17.00 UK time (16.00 GMT).
While Jose Mourinho has started strong on the Giallorossi bench, Sarri has stuttered of late, managing just two draws from his last four games between Serie A and the Europa League.
This too will be his first experience of the Derby della Capitale, but he joked it’s not the most bitter local rivalry he’s ever faced.
“What the media get wrong is thinking that media pressure is the same as the pressure a person feels,” noted Sarri in his press conference.
“The game where I felt the most pressure was Sangiovannese-Montevarchi in Serie C, a rivalry that stretched for centuries and even caused some deaths after the war, I was told.
“It is certainly a big game and one that makes you feel butterflies in your stomach, you can feel that sensation. It is not a normal match, it is something much more than that. It’s a pleasure to be a part of it and I would love for us to play it at 110 per cent of our potential.”
That has not been the case so far, the coach and his staff noting that the players have not yet assimilated his tactical principles.
“Roma are a strong team, it is one of the most important fixtures in European football and it is an honour to be part of it. All children, the way I did, watched Lazio-Roma or listened to it on the radio and dreamed of playing it. Now here we are, so let’s play.”
Ciro Immobile said that Lazio felt too timid to play attacking football after the 2-0 defeat to Milan.
“It’s possible that it left some after-effects. The team did really well in the first two games, then struggled badly against Milan, and clearly something snapped at that point.
“In training, I do not see a team that is holding back or struggling. There is something that is preventing us from playing at 100 per cent, because even our percentage of completed passes is too low for a team that wants to be towards the top of the table.
“We have to improve everything and right now the players are more focused on their movement rather than playing football. That is stalling them.
“It’s not a video game, it’s real football with different brains all having to work together, so that kind of collective football is complicated to achieve. Some teams take more time, some will never get there. We can only hope we’ll be one of those sides that get there quickly.”
Sarri recognises confidence is low at Lazio right now and tries to boost their self-belief.
“This team has positives too, as we went behind five times and still picked up eight points, so that means something. All this negativity I see around Lazio seems excessive to me.
“After all, last season Lazio had an average of 8.9 points per five games, now they’ve got 8. Last season they conceded 7.2 goals every five games, now they’ve conceded 7 with one less defender on the pitch. Last season this team scored eight goals on average every five games, this time we’ve had 12.”
Mattia Zaccagni is injured, so Pedro will start with Felipe Anderson and Ciro Immobile.
“In my career, I’ve rarely worked with a player as potentially strong as Felipe Anderson. He has these extraordinary talents, but needs to grow in his belief, his determination and in his movement off the ball, because otherwise it’s a real waste of talent.”
Sarri: “Allenati pochi giocatori potenzialmente forti come Felipe Anderson. Può essere un top” https://t.co/SXo2iOUy4E
— TUTTOmercatoWEB (@TuttoMercatoWeb) September 25, 2021