Roma coach Rudi Garcia plays down scudetto, but not Juventus win
Roma coach Rudi Garcia has played down his side`s title hopes but insists the Giallorossi can hand Juventus only their second defeat of the season on Monday to reinforce their grip on second place.
Rome: Roma coach Rudi Garcia has played down his side`s title hopes but insists the Giallorossi can hand Juventus only their second defeat of the season on Monday to reinforce their grip on second place.
Roma started the season hoping to be challenging for a first scudetto since 2001 but a run of six draws in seven league games has seen Garcia`s men slip steadily out of the title race.
Juve travel to the capital on Monday with a nine-point lead which, if they prevail, could see the defending champions put one hand on their fourth consecutive championship.
With Napoli only three points further adrift in third, Garcia admits fighting to hold on to second spot is now Roma`s priority.
The first step, he said, is handing Juventus only their second league reverse of the campaign five months after a 2-1 defeat to Genoa in October.
"For us the only things that counts now is this game, we want to win it. We have to do everything we can to maintain second spot and from there we can take aim at first place," said Garcia.
"But even if we win, for the league title our destiny is not in our hands any more."
Asked about his early season proclamations about winning the title Garcia admitted: "Perhaps there is a mysterious deity who wanted to punish me for this sin. If I committed any sin, it`s one of pride," said the Frenchman.
"I did it to combat an overriding sense of pessimism.
"They weren`t the declarations of a fool who doesn`t think about the consequences. To maintain motivation and ambition, maybe that`s what you need to do."
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has been coy about his side`s title chances all season, and despite beating Roma in Turin in the first half of the campaign, he insisted: "There`s still a long way to go in the league.
"After tomorrow`s game we`ll have another 13 matches and 39 points to aim for, Napoli are closing in and are capable of finishing the season well."
While Roma will be missing strikers Seydou Doumbia and Victor Ibarbo through lack of fitness, Allegri indicated that midfielders Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal will join Andrea Pirlo on the casualty list after he hobbled off the 2-1 Champions League last 16 win over Borussia Dortmund in midweek with a calf injury.
Allegri said he is confident in the deputies who will step in, namely Claudio Marchisio, Stefano Sturaro and Simone Padoin.
"I`ll assess their fitness this afternoon, but there`s no emergency - I have Marchisio, Sturaro, Padoin," said the Italian.
"Otherwise we`ll operate with one or two fewer central midfielders. It won`t be a new system, we`ve often played with an inside midfielder who was almost a second attacking midfielder in support of the striker."