Lazio not good enough for the Champions League, admits Pioli

Stefano Pioli admits Lazio are still well short of Champions League quality following their 3-1 aggregate playoff defeat by Bayer Leverkusen.

The Serie A side took a 1-0 lead to Germany for the second leg on Tuesday but were beaten thanks to goals from Hakan Calhanoglu, Admir Mehmedi and Karim Bellarabi, while defender Mauricio was sent off with just over 20 minutes to play.

“Leverkusen were better than us,” Pioli, 49, told Mediaset Premium. “We lost the game because they played at a higher tempo and we made far too many mistakes.

“The first half was quite balanced really and we were naive, but overall Leverkusen created more, pressed harder and deserved to win.

“This is proof that we probably aren’t ready yet for this level, but we also want to grow and we can still do well in Serie A, the Europa League and Coppa Italia.

“We’re preparing to reach this level. We aren’t there yet, but have a quality squad and I’m sure we will get back on our feet quickly.”

Lazio’s defeat means they are automatically assured of a spot in the Europa League group phase this season, with the draw to be held on Friday.