Lazio boss Stefano Pioli has told his men to cast any fears of defeat aside and go out all guns blazing when Juventus travel to the Stadio Olimpico tomorrow night.
The 49-year-old, who assumed the Biancocelesti reins in the summer following three years with Bologna, has presided over a strong upturn in form over the past two months, keeping Lazio on course for their target of a European finish.
And he believes tomorrow’s encounter with the league leaders represents the ideal opportunity to gauge just how far his team has evolved since he replaced Edy Reja in June.
Speaking to the media in the capital, Pioli began: “We want to win and the desire to bring home three points needs to be greater than the fear of losing. It will be a useful yardstick which will tell us how far we’ve come.”
“Our clear goal is to get back into Europe and I keep reiterating my belief that this team is capable of doing so. It will be a tough fight and if we want to keep improving our standing each week we also need to make the most of tomorrow’s opportunity.”
Lazio approach the game eager to bounce back following their defeat to Empoli, a reverse that brought an end to a six-match unbeaten run, but Pioli is confident that valuable lessons for the future can be learned from their afternoon in Tuscany.
“The defeat against Empoli forms part of our development process, we barely gave them a sniff but still conceded twice. This shows us that we can’t let up at any time: determination and ruthlessness are required to become a great team.”
Pioli concluded by playing down any talk of Juventus potentially having one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Malmo, insisting their hunger to win a fourth consecutive title will ensure they face every game with maximum intensity.
He added: “Juventus won’t be distracted by the Champions League. They’re used to handling a busy fixture schedule and will want to win a fourth title after lifting the last three. They’ve never disregarded any opponent and I don’t think they will do tomorrow either.”