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Lazio and Sampdoria eye Cup glory

Lazio and Sampdoria have flattered to deceive in Serie A this term despite their attacking potential but Wednesday’s Coppa Italia final offers a chance to end the season on a high and qualify for Europe.

Lazio, 10th in the league, lost 3-1 at home to Udinese on Saturday with their eyes firmly fixed on the Cup final which will be played at their Stadio Olimpico base in Rome.

Fans hoped the club would be pushing for a Champions League berth this season with strikers Tommaso Rocchi, Goran Pandev and Mauro Zarate among the most dangerous in Serie A.

Inconsistency has been the problem for Delio Rossi’s side, however, but Rocchi is determined to reach the Europa League through winning the much-maligned Cup.

“We thought about this game too early. Now we must turn the page and prepare for the final, thinking only about winning it,” the captain said.

Macedonia’s Pandev is battling to overcome a thigh problem while midfielder Pasquale Foggia has an ankle knock and Brazilian Matuzalem is suspended.

Sampdoria, sixth last term but only 12th this season, hammered lowly Reggina 5-0 on Saturday despite fielding a reserve side with the final in mind.

Inspirational playmaker Antonio Cassano will return up front alongside Giampaolo Pazzini, a partnership which has gradually lifted Samp from near the drop zone since the latter joined from Fiorentina in January.

“I never like to use the word ‘win’ before games for reasons of fate. We’ve got to try to do it without thinking about it too much. In these games, little incidents make the difference,” coach Walter Mazzarri said. “For us, it is already a great result to have reached this final after 15 years.”