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Football | Italy

Daniele De Rossi © Action Images

Italy fans asked to behave ahead of final



Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi has called on Roma and Lazio fans to bury their grievances ahead of the sides' first ever meeting in an Italian Cup final on Sunday.

De Rossi's appeal comes less than two months after the sides' last meeting at the Olympic Stadium was marred by bloodshed when two fans were stabbed amid running riots, which also forced locals to hide and shopkeepers to close early.

Those incidents led politicians to declare that future derbies would no longer be held in the evening but since then, both sides qualified for the final.

Ahead of Sunday's encounter, when a place in next season's Europa League will also go to the winner, De Rossi said: "There are always big concerns when such an important match is to be played.

"I'm confident people will want to come and have a good time, but they need to leave all the knives and weapons at home."

De Rossi was speaking at a reception held for both teams by the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano. It was the second such event for the sides, some of whom met the Pope during a public reception on Wednesday.

The midfielder, who has been sent off several times during hotly-contested derbies, suggested the players could perhaps play a role in calming tensions.

"We also have a responsibility as players," he added. "When we're on the pitch we should try to avoid making exaggerated gestures and try to show an example.

"But I'm confident that this derby will be held in a party atmosphere."

Although Roma and Lazio have met a total of 157 times – Roma have won 57, Lazio 42 and there have been 58 draws – it is the first time they will meet in an Cup final.

Earlier this season Lazio were the form side of the two. Vladimir Petkovic's men were among the top four places for much of the campaign but slipped in the closing six weeks before finishing seventh.

Roma, meanwhile, relaunched their poor start to the campaign in the wake of Zdenek Zeman's sacking and subsequent replacement by Aurelio Andreazzoli, to finish one place higher in sixth. Both, however, missed the fifth and final spot for the Europa League.

However, the winner of Sunday's final will qualify for Europe at their neighbours' expense, thus increasing the stakes even further.

Former Roma coach Fabio Capello, who was at the helm between 1999 and 2004, believes the Giallorossi are possibly better mentally prepared following a final day win over Serie A runners-up Napoli.

"Roma possibly have the mental edge, their win over Napoli will have given them confidence," said Capello.

"They're probably fresher than Lazio but in this kind of game and with so much at stake the players can always find energy when it's needed."

In a bid to avoid trouble between rival groups of supporters, the match will be played at 1600 GMT, theoretically facilitating the policing of the game.

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