Lazio head coach Vladimir Petkovic has declared his side ‘don’t need to worry about who we will face next’ in the UEFA Europa League.
The Italian club cruised into the quarter-finals on Thursday with a 3-1 win over Stuttgart in Rome and, while the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Benfica have also moved into the final eight of the Europa League, Petkovic is confident Lazio can go even further.
But with Lazio’s Serie A season stuttering with five defeats in their past seven matches, Petkovic would prefer to avoid Rubin Kazan and the extensive travel involved.
“To be part of the best eight teams in Europa League is a great achievement,” Petkovic said after Thursday’s victory.
“We don’t need to worry about who we will face next.
“We cannot have a preference. Any team will do. Our only hope is not to have to travel too much, because we have important fixtures in the league too and it will be very important to maintain our energy levels.”
Petkovic was thrilled with his players’ professionalism after they started their home leg against Stuttgart in brilliant fashion.
Despite having taken a significant step towards qualification with a 2-0 triumph in the first leg in Stuttgart, Lazio began their home match at full throttle with Czech forward Libor Kozak scoring twice in the opening eight minutes at the Stadio Olimpico.
While Stuttgart snagged a goal just after the hour mark, Kozak wrapped up his hat-trick late in the game, completing a 5-2 aggregate victory over the German visitors.
“It was important to approach tonight’s game with the right attitude, with a desire to win it and my team interpreted it very well,” Petkovic said.
“Their motivation was high from the beginning of the game and they were determined to seal the qualification as quickly as possible.”