Two teams from the Coppa Italia semifinals go head-to-head in what could be an early preview of May’s final, Lazio travelling north to Florence for Sunday night’s encounter with Fiorentina. The visitors arrive in the Renaissance City boosted by their incredible trouncing of neighbours AS Roma in last weekend’s Derby della Capitale, hoping the confidence they take from that will carry over here.
The 3-0 win over the Giallorossi saw them move within six points of a Champions League berth despite having played one game fewer than their rivals, with boss Simone Inzaghi in little doubt as to the importance of such a result.
“This meant a lot to us and the victory can give us so much enthusiasm going forward,” the Coach told broadcaster DAZN shortly after the final whistle. “We had just three-and-a-half days to prepare for this, but the lads did such a good job. We’re happy to have given such a wonderful evening to our fans, as nights like this remain in Lazio history.”
Inzaghi will have to cope without Wallace, Jordan Lukaku and Valon Berisha who are all still recovering from long-term injuries, while backup goalkeeper Silvio Proto may need to deputise for Thomas Strakosha, the Albanian no.1 in doubt with a shoulder problem.
Lazio will have a tough decision to make over leading scorer Ciro Immobile too, the striker struggling for fitness ahead of the Roma clash but scoring after coming off the bench. If he is not deemed ready to start against Fiorentina, then homegrown forward Danilo Cataldi might well get the nod after he too found the back of the net in the Derby.
For Fiorentina there are no such injury problems, Stefano Pioli now has a fully fit squad and the return of Captain Germán Pezzella should allow Nikola Milenkovic to return to right-back. The one man likely to miss out is Giovanni Simeone, the Argentinian like to be given a place on the bench as the Viola move Gerson forward into attack and slot Marco Benassi back into his usual midfield role.
The game is likely to be an entertaining one, finishing 4-3 last term while there have been 21 goals in Fiorentina’s last four outings and Lazio have scored at least twice in each of their last four visits to the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Lafont; Milenkovic, Pezzella, Vitor Hugo, Biraghi; Benassi, Veretout, Edimilson Fernandes; Gerson, Muriel, Chiesa
LAZIO (3-5-2): Proto; Bastos, Acerbi, Radu; Romulo, Milinkovic-Savic, Lucas Leiva, Luis Alberto, Durmisi; Correa, Immobile
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