The fifth Matchday of the UEFA Europa League is set to take place tomorrow. Lazio will face Apollon Limassol in Cyprus to hold on to the hope of winning the first place spot in their group; although qualification to the knockout rounds is already in their pocket thanks to the home and away victories against Marseille, Simone Inzaghi does not intend to underestimate their opponent, as well as Francesco Acerbi. Below, both men present the fixture.
How much do you care about, and how much do you believe in, the first place spot in the group? “We believe in it so much. We know we are three points behind in the standings, but tomorrow we want to win and play an important game. Even Frankfurt will not have a simple match.”
After Lazio vs Milan, Claudio Lotito spoke about the changes made, saying that you two will resolve it internally. What happened? “On Sunday, after the match against Milan I saw Lotito and he was happy with the reaction from the team; he appreciated it. The guys were good at reacting after conceding a goal ten minutes from the end of the match. Of course, we both wanted to win, we wanted a lot. We could not take the lead in the first half. The changes? I had to make the substitutions. Luis Alberto did well, Milinkovic also, but it was a physical match and I was afraid that he could run into another card that would have affected the match in a negative way.”
Is tomorrow’s game a showcase for those who have played less? Will it serve to create assessments ahead of the transfer market? “Tomorrow is an important race for everyone. In the summer we knew we had this Europa League. It was our goal to qualify and we did it with two games before the final match. Tomorrow, I will make some changes but my intention is to win. Everyone can show off. I’m lucky to have real professionals who always work hard, I will not have problems to change the team.”
With Joaquin Correa, can we expect more of him from the first minute? “Definitely. He is an important player for us who has entered and meshed well with his teammates. He is an asset, I will decide from time to time if he starts or comes off the bench.”
You will also play this match. Have you chosen to continue your record? “This is an important and non-trivial match. I play because it’s my job and my passion. I always want to play, my head does not want to skip a minute, but then it is the coach who decides, beyond the records. Playing for me is important, even mentally knowing that you can play helps you and pushes you to do something more.”
In these types of games, can the degree of maturity of Lazio be measured? “These races are important for everyone. If we enter, thinking that we are already qualified, we risk making a good impression. It is not a man and a professional player’s mentality to take a match lightly. The mentality must be the same as always. There are no games that do not count. Even for me that I have played them all is, I do not enter the field just to enter. We must not underestimate Apollon.”