Lazio boss Edy Reja has called on his men to turn in a flawless performance when they go toe-to-toe with reigning Serie A champions Juventus on Saturday night at the Stadio Olimpico.
The tactician’s return to the dugout he occupied between 2010 and 2012 has proved the catalyst for a recent revival in the Biancocelesti’s fortunes, with two wins and a draw gained from his first three games at the helm.
But with eight goals conceded in the last two meetings with Juventus, Reja believes Lazio will need to shore up defensively if they are to avoid becoming the latest victims of the division’s most potent attack on Saturday night.
Speaking to the media in the capital, Reja began: “They’re the best team in the league, there’s no hiding from the fact that it will be a very difficult game for us. We’ll look to give them a hard time. We’ll take to the field with the aim of doing all we can and committing as few errors as possible.
“They haven’t shown any weaknesses thus far. They wait for you and push a great deal on the flanks through Lichtsteiner and Asamoah, while Pogba and Vidal take advantage of the space by breaking from deep.
“We’ve looked to put a few defensive errors right that were committed in Udine. We can’t give anything away because they capitalise on every minimal error and are unforgiving in the final third.”
The 68-year-old, who steered Lazio to a fourth-place finish in 2012, has placed great emphasis on closing down pockets of space in midfield, as well as effective marshalling of one of the Bianconeri’s principle threats, Andrea Pirlo.
“What interests me is seeing the right spirit and great determination to plug the gaps that Juventus know how to open up. If we manage to do this we’ll have a good possibility of gaining a result.”
“We’re fully aware of Pirlo. A great deal of the Bianconeri’s play originates from him, he possesses great vision and we’ll definitely have to pay him a degree of attention. We won’t box him in, though, because he’s got a great ability to shake off his man, but we’ll look to limit his play because its often decisive.”
Lazio will be without long-term injury victim Ederson, defender Stefan Radu and suspended duo Ogenyi Onazi and Senad Lulic, but could welcome Abdoulay Konko back into the fold following his recent absence.
And whilst revealing he has worked on different options in the build-up to the clash, Reja elected to keep his cards close to his chest when quizzed on tomorrow night’s starting line-up.
“Konko, who has been with us since the start of the week, is fully recovered and Cavanda’s also fine. I have options from that point of view. Gonzalez has had just one training session, I don’t want to risk him because it would be a gamble. I’ve tried various teams during the week, but I’ll decide on my starting line-up tomorrow.”