Roma boss Luciano Spalletti has demanded his squad put local hostilities with bitter rivals Lazio to the back of their minds as they prepare to face Empoli in Serie A on Saturday.
The Giallorossi were beaten 2-0 by their city rivals in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final at the start of this month.
The sides return to their shared Stadio Olimpico for Roma’s ‘home’ leg on Tuesday but Spalletti’s men must first entertain lowly Empoli, with a chance to gain valuable points at the sharp end of the table on the weekend Napoli and Juventus clash in Naples.
As such, distractions are not something the 58-year-old coach will tolerate.
“I know the result against Empoli could have a bearing on our match against Lazio,” Spalletti told a pre-match news conference.
“I’m thinking about nothing but tomorrow [Saturday] because I know that’s the best way to prepare for our game on Tuesday.
“The derby may seem more important on paper but if we want to go into it in good form we have to beat Empoli first.
“There must be no distractions; we’re fully focused on tomorrow.”
GALLERY See the best photos from today’s final training session before #RomaEmpoli…
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) March 31, 2017
Roma will be without Daniele De Rossi this weekend due to a back injury suffered on international duty with Italy and the influential midfielder could be a doubt to face Lazio.
“They’re all in good shape except Daniele, who’s got this back problem, but the main thing is that the scans showed no serious issues,” said Spalletti.
“All the others trained well so I have good reason to be confident. Of course, some of them are feeling a bit of fatigue from the matches and travelling they’ve done, so we’ll need to assess everything carefully.”
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