S.S. Lazio coach Delio Rossi paid tribute to illustrious visitors Real Madrid CF but promised that he "won't be having nightmares or be dreaming about white shirts".
Coach Delio Rossi has paid tribute to S.S. Lazio's illustrious visitors Real Madrid CF before their second match in UEFA Champions League Group C – but promises that his side will not be overawed by the big names on the team sheet of the nine-time European champions.
"It is the dream of any young boy to play against Real Madrid," said the 46-year-old. "But for those who have to work in football, it's just another game. I won't be having nightmares about Madrid or dreaming about white shirts." As well as the 1-1 stalemate in Greece against Olympiacos CFP on Matchday 1, Lazio have drawn four of their opening six Serie A matches and lie 12th in the table with seven points, already seven adrift of early leaders FC Internazionale Milano. Nevertheless, further parity on Wednesday "would suit" Rossi.
"We can win if we play with the desire and commitment that Lazio are famous for, but it will be very tough," said Rossi. "We have to forget about their history and their players and go at them without fear. There are three points at stake and it looks as though we'll be playing in front of a full house, so I hope all the emotion and drama of the night will be channelled in the right way – and work in our favour." Lazio have beaten only Cagliari Calcio in Serie A, and have failed to score in the first half of all nine games in their campaign. The Italian international forward Tommaso Rocchi, who has struck three times in five league appearances this term, will undergo a late fitness test with Stephen Makinwa waiting in the wings should he fail to recover.
In contrast, Bernd Schuster's men have carried on where Fabio Capello's left off in May. The Spanish champions are leading both the Primera División – with five victories from six matches – as well as Group C after their 2-1 triumph at home against Werder Bremen on Matchday 1. "We don't have to change too much for this game," said Schuster. "Lazio play a similar system to Bremen. We just have to play our own game. I think the wings will be important." Defenders Christoph Metzelder and Pepe, plus striker Robinho, are out injured yet despite the absences and his side's impressive results in the early part of the season, the German coach has been criticised for his rotation policy since leaving Getafe CF to succeed Fabio Capello at the Santiago Bernabéu in the summer.
"Like all teams, we have a base of players who perform in most games but we must also make sure our players are in top condition for the top matches," he said. "Sometimes we have to make changes and that's why we have a big squad. This will happen here." Madrid have not lifted Europe's premier club prize since 2002 and Schuster says claiming the title for a record tenth time is their foremost goal for 2007/08: "We have to think about other competitions such as the Spanish league and cup, but of course, this is the most important tournament and has priority. But we are not like Italian teams who look exclusively at the Champions League."