Vladimir Petković is calling on his S.S. Lazio side to rediscover their form against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach on Thursday.
Beaten 3-0 on Monday at AC Siena, hitherto Serie A's bottom team, and on a run of just one win in eight games in all competitions, Lazio nevertheless hold sway in their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie against Mönchengladbach. A topsy-turvy opening instalment in Germany had a fittingly frantic finale, substitute Libor Kozák earning the Biancocelesti a 3-3 draw in the fourth minute of added time. Though Petković's men have their noses in front on away goals, the coach knows the size of their task.
"We have to put the Siena defeat behind us," said Petković, who expects Stefano Mauri to be missing through illness. "We have to be careful because we are facing a German team – they always believe until the end, and to get a good result we need to show we deserve to win. Against Siena we made a lot of mistakes, but that happens during the course of a season. The most important thing is what you achieve by the end of the campaign.
"I want to see a concentrated team, focused and aware of their strengths. At home we have our supporters and we don't want to disappoint them. I expect a similar game to the first leg, with Monchengladbach looking to take advantage of our mistakes. There will be nearly 10,000 German fans and it will not be easy. We will play a great match and show our strength and resolve."
Sergio Floccari, scorer of Lazio's first goal last week, insists he and his team-mates still "believe in ourselves" despite the recent downturn – three points adrift of the Serie A summit just over a month ago, they are now 11 off the pace, in fourth place. "We need to grow mentally," said the 31-year-old forward. "We need to go on the pitch with conviction and prove we are the better team."
Also beaten in their most recent domestic outing and with a solitary victory in seven fixtures, Mönchengladbach – tenth in the Bundesliga – are not in the rudest of health themselves. Coach Lucien Favre, though, does have a fully fit squad available and is mindful of the threat Lazio pose. "Vladimir Petković has a very strong team who, this season, have beaten Juventus [in the Coppa Italia semi-finals] and this is another reason to be careful – we can't make mistakes," he said.
"We have to play in a very intelligent way. I do not care if Lazio lost against Siena as this will be another match at another stadium in front of their fans." Though the hosts will indeed have the majority of the Stadio Olimpico behind them, Mönchengladbach will hardly be lacking in support. "There are 10,000 fans here in Rome supporting us," said striker Luuk de Jong. "It's amazing! It's something we had never seen. We hope to repay them by winning and qualifying for the round of 16."
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