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Mar 3, 2012

Sabatini: Third place hinges on derby

Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini believes his side's chances of finishing in the top three of the Serie A table this season will depend on the weekend's result with Lazio.

• Watch LIVE from 1400 GMT on ESPN Classic this Sunday (Sky 429, Virgin 533)

The two sides clash in the Rome derby on Sunday and hosts Roma are seven points adrift of their rivals who are currently joint third in the table with Udinese. Earlier in the week, Sabatini claimed the Giallorossi players were "moderately afraid" of Lazio after recent results but thinks Luis Enrique's side cannot afford to slip in the race for Europe.

"The derby on Sunday will be incredibly important, as third place will depend on the outcome of this game," he said. "However, even if we were defeated, the support will not abandon us. The fans have shown themselves to be much more understanding for us.

"There is a moderate fear that is growing as we approach the game," Sabatini reiterated. "We will need to gather our resources, energy and quality.

"We are a team capable of any venture but a single game will not stop Roma or close the Olimpico. We are on a journey and we intend to get to the end of it."

Lazio go into the encounter at the Stadio Olimpico on the back of a 1-0 triumph over Fiorentina. The success, Lazio's 13th of the campaign, allowed the Biancoceleste to bounce back from defeats to Atletico Madrid and Palermo in the Europa League and Serie A respectively.

Sunday's result was just what the Lazio fans needed after a turbulent week at the club, which saw coach Edy Reja offering to step down before changing his mind.

''I had a difference in opinions with the club president, but we have talked since and cleared the air, so I will stay at Lazio, now and in the future,'' Reja said. ''The victory against Fiorentina was important. Now our focus in on the derby and we know that anything can happen. I hope to have 11 lions ready to give their all on the pitch.''

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