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Lazio heading into season-defining week

15 May 2015, 07:59

Milan - Lazio is heading into a week which will define its season.

First up is a tricky trip to Sampdoria in Serie A on Saturday, and then Wednesday's hastily rearranged Italian Cup final against Juventus, which comes only days before it faces city rival Roma in a direct battle for second place.

Also read: Defence best form of attack for Sevilla at Fiorentina

Roma is currently second, a point ahead of Lazio. Both lost last weekend to a Milan team, leaving them looking nervously over their shoulder at Napoli, which is only three points behind Lazio in the race for the final Champions League spot.

Lazio faces Napoli in the final round of the season.

Lazio president Claudio Lotito has called on the squad to have the same spirit as the 1974 title-winning side.

"We have three very difficult matches left in this season's journey," Lotito said. "We have the chance to fulfil our dream of reaching the Champions League, which nobody would ever have expected at the start of the season, and the opportunity to play the Italian final and the Italian Super Cup.

"I am convinced that the whole squad, the staff and coach Stefano Pioli will know how to embrace the spirit of '74 and face every single encounter with humility, team spirit, sacrifice and strong determination that 41 years ago took us to victory, to get the maximum today."

Roma hosts Udinese on Sunday and Napoli welcomes already-relegated Cesena the following day.

Here are some things to know about this weekend's matches:

Home fortress

Sampdoria is also fighting to qualify for Europe and currently holds the last entry spot for the Europa League in sixth, a point above Genoa and two above Inter Milan.

The team has a fantastic record at home this season, having lost only once at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

"It will be a difficult match, but we can't drop points at home," Sampdoria midfielder Joseph Alfred Duncan said. "We want to reach our aim, which is to qualify for the Europa League. I'm expecting a full stadium."

Samp is also a point behind Fiorentina, which hosts crisis-hit Parma on Monday.

Desperate for win

Inter Milan has much more to lose and much more to prove when it hosts Serie A champion Juventus in the Derby d'Italia on Saturday.

Inter has put on a late push for Europe and is unbeaten in its past seven matches to leave it two points behind sixth and the last qualifying berth for the Europa League.

Juventus will be on a high after reaching the Champions League final and coach Massimiliano Allegri is likely to rest some players ahead of Wednesday's Italian Cup final against Lazio which had to be rearranged because it was originally scheduled for the day after the Champions League final.

However, Juventus which has already won the league will also be eager to put on a performance against its bitter rival and remind Inter that it could emulate its feat of winning a treble.

"We're having a great season and there are still two important finals ahead of us," Allegri said. "In order to bring the curtain down on the campaign in a spectacular way, we must continue working hard.

"It's been a great year in Bianconeri history and one to tell our children when we're older."

Two down,one to go

A point for Atalanta will be enough to guarantee it Serie A football for another season.

Even if Cagliari beats Palermo, a draw at Genoa on Sunday would leave Atalanta six points clear of the Sardinian side with two matches remaining and with the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if teams are even on points.

Parma and Cesena have already been relegated.

- AP

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