Lazio chief stirs Roma nest

11 March 2014 02:16

Lazio president Claudio Lotito has stirred up city rivals AS Roma by predicting an end-of-season flop that will see them miss out on next season's Champions League.

After a 1-0 defeat away to Napoli on Sunday, Roma sit 14 points behind league leaders Juventus with a game in hand, prompting coach Rudi Garcia to claim his side's focus will now be on runner-up spot.

Second place in Serie A is synonymous with an automatic Champions League qualifying place while third-place finishers have to contend a qualifying round.

Although Roma have been in the top two all season, Lotito ventured they could even be beaten to third place by Napoli, who sit third at three points further adrift.

"Juventus will win the title, Napoli will finish second," Lotito said on RaiSport1.

"For third place, I don't know. I don't want to make predictions."

Roma's hopes of fighting Juve for the title were dented by Sunday's defeat, prompting Garcia to say: "Now, the gap (on Juventus) is fairly significant. We just have to keep on going and stay focused on reinforcing second place."

Lotito, who is the subject of mass protests by Lazio fans unhappy at the club's recruitment policies, saw Lazio crash out of the Europa League two weeks ago at the last 32 stage.

And he concluded: "It's been a few years since Roma breathed in the air of European competition, only that of Serie A."

Roma did not qualify for Europe this season and last competed in the Champions League in 2011 when they were eliminated 6-2 on aggregate by last 16 opponents Shakhtar Donetsk.

Source: AFP