Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Lazio and Samp seek cup salvation

Three prizes are up for grabs when Lazio take on Sampdoria in Wednesday night's Coppa Italia final in Rome.

Coppa Italia Final 2009Both clubs not only have a chance to win a trophy but to earn a place in the Italian Supercup final in Beijing in August and clinch a spot in next season's inaugural UEFA Europa League.

The pressure was telling on Lazio at the weekend when they took on Udinese and lost 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.

The defeat was a third straight for the Biancocelesti and captain Tommaso Rocchi admitted his team was not fully focused on that game because of Wednesday's showdown with Sampdoria.

"We were thinking already about the game against Samp. Now we must turn the page and prepare for the final, thinking only of winning it," Rocchi said.

Lazio, who are 10th in the Serie A standings, would appear to be the more desperate of the two sides for success on home soil judging from the remarks of club President Claudio Lotito.

"This final is a point of arrival but an important point of departure," he said. "If we won, we would claim a title, have a chance to enjoy an European adventure next season as well as play in the SuperCoppa Italiana."

Just like Lazio, Samp have won the cup four times in their history, but their last success was in 1994.

Walter Mazzarri"For us it's already a success to have reached the Coppa Italia final after a 15-year wait," Samp coach Walter Mazzarri said. "If we are able to win it, that would be the best."

The Blucerchiati, who are two points behind Lazio in the table, go into the encounter in the Eternal City in buoyant mood following their 5-0 hammering of Reggina at the weekend.

The result ended a three-match winless run for the Genoa outfit and lifted them to 12th in the table.

"We're going to Rome to win," Mazzarri said. "We need to be focused because this type of game can turn on small moments, so we need to be strong and make sure we benefit."

The Samp coach believes his side are the underdogs in the final.

"Playing on home turf is obviously an advantage for them and Lazio are the favourites. It might've been more balanced to move it to a neutral venue once they knew Lazio were in the Final.

"In any case, our fans have always followed us in vast numbers and it will be great to see them there again. We are glad to be giving them this special night.

"It is all to play for, as this is a one-off game and anything can happen. The winner will be the team that keeps its cool."

Mazzarri will rely on attacking duo Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini to deliver in front of goal. The pair have struck half of the team's goals in Serie A this season.

Delio RossiLazio boss Delio Rossi believes his side face far more pressure than Sampdoria to lift their first Coppa title since 2004.

"We will need a Lazio up to the task, as lifting the trophy would be important for the team, the club and our fans who have above all spent the last few years watching others celebrate," he said.

"If you win then you are taken into Heaven, if you lose then it's straight down to Hell.

"The winners will have a cool head and a fired up heart. We will certainly have more pressure on us than Sampdoria and I am certain they will start out refusing to take the initiative."

Rossi will be without suspended midfielder Francelino Matuzalem but is hoping to recover injured duo Pasquale Foggia and Goran Pandev. The Romans are set to play with Mauro Zarate alongside Rocchi in attack.

Lazio's road to the final...
Round 3: Lazio 1-5 Benevento
Round 4: Lazio 2-0 Atalanta
Round 5: Milan 1-2 Lazio AET
Quarter-Final: Lazio 3-1 Torino
Semi-Final: Lazio 2-1 Juventus / Juventus 1-2 Lazio (Agg: 2-4)

Sampdoria's road to the final...
Round 5: Sampdoria 2-1 Empoli
Quarter-Final: Udinese 1-1 Sampdoria AET (Pens: 1-4)
Semi-Final: Sampdoria 3-0 Inter / Inter 1-0 Sampdoria (Agg: 1-3)

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