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Lazio v Inter: Hernanes expecting emotional Olimpico return

Inter midfielder Hernanes is expecting an emotional return to the Stadio Olimpico when they visit Lazio in a game that could well prove decisive in the battle for European places.

Hernanes left Lazio for Inter in January 2014 and netted in May's 4-1 win over his former club - a result that confirmed his current employers' place in the UEFA Europa League.

However, Sunday's match in the Italian capital will mark the first time he has faced Lazio away from home since his switch to San Siro.

"I already know that being at the Olimpico will be an emotional moment, it will be a fantastic feeling. It was very difficult to say goodbye to Lazio," Hernanes told Il Messaggero.

"Will I celebrate if I score? We'll have to see what happens in that moment."

Inter are three points adrift of Fiorentina in fifth place and two behind Sampdoria in sixth, which will become a Europa League qualification place should third-placed Lazio - already in the Coppa Italia final - finish in the UEFA Champions League places.

"Lazio don't have an easy schedule," Hernanes added. "They can do it though, they can qualify for the Champions League, they have everything they need. I hope they do well, but after the game against us.

"Mathematically we can still qualify for the Europa League, and that's what we're playing for, starting with the match against Lazio."

Lazio's place in the top three is far from secure following last weekend's 1-1 draw at Atalanta, which left Claudio Lotito's men four points clear of fourth-placed Napoli with four games remaining.

Third would see Lazio take a place in the Champions League play-off round, but Serbian striker FIlip Djordjevic is focused on overhauling city rivals Roma - one point ahead - for second and a spot in the group stage of Europe's premier club competition.

"Both Roma and Napoli have difficult fixtures, like us, but right now we are only thinking of Inter," Djordjevic said after the stalemate with struggling Atlalanta.

"We are one point away from second place, and we want to get it."

Inter are winless in their last four away games with Lazio, the visitors' last success coming back in 2010 under Jose Mourinho.

And, given the two sides' contrasting fortunes this season, Lazio should be confident of making it an unhappy return for Hernanes and taking another step towards qualification for a tournament they have not competed in since 2007.