Ljajic 'ready' to replace Totti for Roma
Adem Ljajic insists the pressure won’t get to him this weekend as he prepares to replace Francesco Totti in a Roma side seeking a record-equalling ninth straight Serie A win.
Totti, missing through injury, has been influential in the Giallorossi's perfect start, scoring three goals and assisting a further six, but the Serbian, signed from Fiorentina during the summer, is confident that he can help to see off Udinese.
"I’m ready, particularly psychologically -- I can’t wait to play from the first minute again," said the 22-year-old, who has made just one start under Rudi Garcia so far this season, entering a further four times from the bench.
"I’m really desperate to play because I’ve not played much so far, but as long as we’re winning, that’s fine by me. Totti is the most important player, but many others want to show that we can play without him, and we still have to win without him."
Victory in Udine would equal a record Juve set in 2005 of nine straight wins from the start of the season. They have already matched the Bianconeri’s eight-game winning streaks from 1930 and 1985, two seasons in which the Turin club won the title.
As things stand, Roma are the number one in Italy, though, according to Ljajic.
"We’re stronger than Juve right now," he told Rds radio. "We’ve got five points more than them and we’re really hungry to carry on this way, but the season is long and we’ve still got to show who we are.
"Problems will arrive, but that’s another reason why football is so beautiful. I don’t want to think about how we’ll react to defeats, I just want to think about beating Udinese."
That is a desire shared by former Bianconero Medhi Benatia, who faces his ex-club for the first time since leaving them in the summer.
"I’m going to face many friends," he told Roma official television channel. "I had some beautiful moments in Udine and certainly it’s going to be strange to see [Francesco] Guidolin sat on the other bench. But football is made up of moments like this. I just have to think of the game and put my feelings to one side for 90 minutes.
"I’ve exchanged a few messages with Toto Di Natale too. He makes you laugh off the field, always saying ridiculous things. It’s going to be hard for him to be up against me because I’m not going to give any gifts anymore. When I trained with him, I could take it easy, but not in a game."