Udinese clash season-defining for Lazio

Lazio boss Edy Reja believes his side’s entire season has come down to the 90 minutes of their match against Udinese on Sunday.Just one point separates the two sides in the battle for fourth spot, which carries with it a Champions League qualifying berth.

Reja’s team have lost their last two Serie A matches, but will need to shake off that poor form at the Stadio Friuli on Sunday if they want to take part in Europe’s most prestigious club competition.

“This game is worth an entire season in 90 minutes, but at the same time the campaign doesn’t come to an end after the final whistle,” Reja said.

“A lot will also depend on the Roma-Milan result this evening, which is another crucial encounter. As of right now, we need 69 points to be sure of the Champions League.”

Strikers Alexis Sanchez and Serie A leading scorer Antonio Di Natale have starred for Udinese this season, and Reja described a novel way of containing their influence at the weekend.

“How do we stop Alexis Sanchez and Antonio Di Natale? We could try shooting them,” Reja joked.

“Udinese are a very complete team. They created many chances against us at the Olimpico earlier this season and we only beat them with a struggle.”

“Sanchez and Di Natale are pretty much unstoppable in the one-on-one, so if we leave ourselves open to the counterattack, then it’d be a disaster. Udinese always fly out of the blocks, so we’ve got to be ready from the start.”

Giuseppe Sculli is fit again and is expected to return to the side who lost 1-0 at home to Juventus, but Reja said his team had put that defeat behind them.

“When we resumed training on Tuesday, we were pretty downhearted, but then worked well throughout the week. The squad is sharp and fired up again,” Reja said.

“We were too anxious against Juve and for this game we need to be particularly balanced. We’ve got to be intelligent to avoid letting anxiety damage us, which is what happened recently.”