Garcia hits out at Reja comments ahead of Rome derby

The Roma boss believes his Lazio counterpart set a bad example when he joked earlier in the week that he hoped to see Giallorossi players injured before Sunday's clash
Roma boss Rudi Garcia has accused Lazio head coach Edy Reja of setting a bad example ahead of the derby match on Sunday.

Reja joked earlier this week that he hoped certain Giallorossi players would pick up injuries in their Coppa Italia meeting with Napoli in order to bolster his chances of a win this weekend.

Garcia, however, was less than amused by his opposite number's remarks and has called on the officials to keep a close eye on proceedings at the Stadio Olimpico.

"We are educators, not just coaches," Garcia told a press conference. "If a coach says these things publicly, then what can he say in the locker room? That he wants to break our legs or kill someone?

"I want the referee to be wary of tackles, as I don't want my players to be injured. I also ask the fans to support their own team and nothing more. We are playing for the victory and whatever our opponent says is his responsibility."

Roma head into the encounter as clear favourites, with 19 points and seven positions separating the sides in the Serie A table, and Garcia believes the weight of expectation on his team can serve as a positive.

"It's good pressure. The great thing about football is we don't know what will happen. We want to win, we're enjoying a positive streak, the team is hungry to keep moving forward and that's all that matters.

"The table says we are in second place, so it is normal we are expected to win. It will be a difficult test, but we have the quality and must put that on to the pitch.

"This is different to earlier this season, as back then the team was so fired up. I realised the derby was important, but for me it was the chance to move forward is a positive way. Now we've already played 22 games, the approach is completely different on a psychological level, but we must remain humble.

"What counts is qualifying for the Champions League and we mustn't forget that. I see this game as just another opportunity to get three points and also a sign to the others that it is difficult to face Roma."

Garcia added the importance of the likes of Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi in the side, as he believes the long-term Roma servants will be truly fired up for the encounter.

"The derby is felt more keenly by the fans than the players. We have three Romanisti players in Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi - perhaps it means a bit more to them, but we must be above these considerations. It's not only a derby, but a Serie A game."