Lazio-Bologna: the only game between two teams that actually played last week. The Biancocelesti extended their superb run by grinding out a W versus Genoa, thanks to the usual Ciro Immobile goal and two unlikely heroes coming through, Adam Marusic, who has started over Manuel Lazzari in two matches in a row, and Danilo Cataldi. While Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored against Inter, the bonuses for their other two fantasy stars, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa, have not been there in recent rounds, leaving Felipe Caicedo as the only serviceable option besides the capocannoniere. Jony has taken over for the injured Senad Lulic and, while he is a high-volume crosser, he has come up with just one assist so far. It could be another ripe day for their offense considering that the Felsinei have a soft defence. Continue reading
SPAL-Juventus: Luigi Di Biagio devised a new system in his debut, arraying his men with a 4-3-3. While they failed to get the win, they attacked more than usual and Andrea Petagna bagged the ninth goal of his campaign. Federico Di Francesco has always been playing in very offensive role, but he is more comfortable out wide and the trident was completed by Mattia Valoti in that case, although Gabriel Strefezza will have his chances too. The duo gets a bump thanks to the coaching change, likewise Mirko Valdifiori, who resurfaced and can be a decent weapon on set pieces, as a matter of fact he picked up an assist with a corner kick. Simone Missiroli is back at box-to-box like earlier in his career, joining the sneaky Lucas Castro. On the downside, Arkadiusz Reca, and Mohamed Fares when he will be ready, will feature as fullback, so few meters behind what they were accustomed to doing. Scoring has been one of their main issues so far, as they have no reliable contributors behind Petagna. Continue reading
Lazio-Inter was the most anticipated match going into round 24: it was pretty tight but still had a decent amount of action, so it takes home the shout-out in combination with its potentially huge significance in the title race.
The Biancocelesti were handed their last loss in the first meeting between the two sides back in September and then proceeded to go on a still ongoing terrific run, although they had slowed down a bit lately with two draws in the past four contests. The Nerazzurri were instead coming off two Ws, the first versus Udinese and then a crazy one in the Derby. Continue reading
Atalanta-Roma: the Goddess continue to add to their offensive arsenal, as Duvan Zapata is returning two his usual pre-injury numbers (two goals and three assists in the last four games) and Ruslan Malinovskyi came through last week. The Ukrainian attacker seems to have surpassed Luis Muriel as first option off the bench. Josip Ilicic did not score against Fiorentina, but still had a great performance and he has been en fuego for a while. The one small negative is that, with their front-line now featuring two quality scorers, Alejandro Gomez is back at looking more to feed them rather than finishing on his own: as a matter of fact he set up two goals last week and has not hit the net since in six weeks. Timothy Castagne came back and he is a bigger offensive weapon than the more diligent Hans Hateboer, but they will likely continue to alternate, while Robin Gosens on the opposite flank is slowing down a bit after a gorgeous January. Mario Pasalic fumbled away a pair of sitters in Florence. Rafael Toloi (one goal and six assists) has been their most intriguing defender. Continue reading
Atalanta: Marten De Roon is suspended, newcomer Tomas Sutalo is out for a month with a foot injury.
Bologna: Andrea Poli is disqualified. Nicola Sansone suffered a hamstring strain, Federico Santander a hip muscle one and they will both miss three-to-four weeks. No returns among the previously injured Gary Medel (hamstring) and Ladislav Krejci (knee).
Roma-Bologna: the Giallorossi are in a funk and have played just one convincing game out of the last five. They will be without Lorenzo Pellegrini due to suspension and it is a massive loss considering that he is the mastermind of their offense. They should get Henrikh Mkhitaryan back from injury and perhaps even starting considering the hole at no.10. The other option is likely Diego Perotti and they seem to always be awarded a penalty when he is out there. Edin Dzeko has scored in three straight games and they will face a pretty suspect back-line. Cengiz Under took a step back versus Sassuolo, but he is always pretty assertive when he decides to play, while Justin Kluivert has not done much since coming back from injury, but should improve over time. Paulo Fonseca has elected to keep Aleksandar Kolarov on the bench in the last two matches for tactical reasons, but the decision has not really moved the needle so the stud left-back should soon be back in the XI. Continue reading
Following 11 straight wins in Serie A, Lazio shared the spoils in the Derby Della Capitale this past weekend but will be looking to return to winning ways against SPAL. Earlier in the season, SPAL beat the biancocelesti comfortably. Will Inzaghi’s men fare better in match-day 22?
Against Roma, Lazio looked off the pace and quite frankly, were fortunate to avoid defeat. Had it not been for an uncharacteristic error from Pau Lopez, Inzaghi’s men were heading for their first loss in sixteen Serie A clashes. Prior to their draw with their fierce rivals, Lazio lost to Napoli in the Coppa Italia, indicating a down-turn in form may be on the cards for the capital-based outfit.
Despite this, Lazio are going into this one with all their starters while the same cannot be said about SPAL. Without further ado, let’s look at the latest team news.
Much like it was the case against Roma, Lazio are expected to be a full strength against SPAL. However, one question mark remains in their starting eleven. Currently, Joaquin Correa’s condition is being monitored and may not feature from the start. Towering forward Felipe Caicedo would step in to replace the Argentine striker.
Beyond that, Inzaghi is expected to name an unchanged lineup with Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic flanking Lucas Leiva in the midfield. As usual, Acerbi will be joined by Radu and Luiz Felipe in defence. Marusic, Cataldi and Lukaku all miss out through injury.
SPAL will mirror Lazio’s 3-5-2 setup, but will have to make do without talisman and newly-acquired Napoli man Andrea Petagna, who’s suspended. Floccari is expected to take his place alongside Di Francesco. Mohamed Fares will miss out once more due to injury while former Lazio midfielder Alessandro Murgia is expected to feature from the start against his former employers.
In addition to Petagna, Mattia Valoti is suspended and will miss this clash. Marco D’Alessandro is also expected to miss this game through injury.
Lazio (3-5-2): Strakosha; Felipe Luiz, Acerbi, Radu; Lazzari, Milinkovic-Savic, Lucas Leiva, Luis Alberto, Lulic; Caicedo, Immobile.
SPAL (3-5-2): Berisha; Tomovic, Vicari, Bonifazi; Strefezza, Dabo, Missiroli, Murgia, Reca; Floccari, Di Francesco.
- Lazio have scored three goals in their last seven of eight home games.
- Lazio have won their last six Serie A home games.
- In their last six clashes against each other, Lazio have won 3, SPAL have emerged victorious twice and they’ve shared the spoils once.
With Lazio chasing Juventus and Inter closely, I don’t expect them to drop points against SPAL, especially considering their impressive home record and run of form as of late. While SPAL proved they can get the better of the biancocelesti earlier in the season, Andrea Petagna is a big absence and will likely prove to be the difference in this one. Given Lazio’s firepower and SPAL’s injuries and suspensions to key players, this game is only going to finish one way. With a Lazio win, that is.
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Atalanta: Josip Ilicic is dealing with some thigh soreness but there is optimism it is nothing serious. Timothy Castagne resumed practicing after some knee pain and Lennart Czyborra is available as well following a contracture. Tomas Sutalo will miss time with a navicular bone edema.
Bologna: Takehiro Tomiyasu is suspended. Nicola Sansone should be fine after some muscle fatigue and Stefano Denswil is on track to return from a thigh problem. Gary Medel (thigh) and Ladislav Krejci (knee) are poised to remain on the shelf.
Brescia: Mario Balotelli will finish serving his two-game suspension. Continue reading
Napoli-Juventus was likely a little more intense and significant, but it already got extensive coverage in another column, so the nod for match of the round goes to the Derby between Roma and Lazio, which was not exactly one of the ages but always carries gargantuan magnitude.
La Lupa came into the match looking to build on last week’s easy win over Genoa, which had interrupted a two-game slump, while the Eagles were riding a 11-match winning streak that had commenced back in late October. They were coming off a rout against Sampdoria. Continue reading
Brescia-Milan: the Rondinelle will not have Mario Balotelli for a couple of matches, but Ernesto Torregrossa has actually carried the load scoring-wise recently and he and Alfredo Donnarumma formed a formidable partnership last season in Serie B, so they might be able to survive the blow. They have added two intriguing pieces in January in Birkir Bjarnason, who was very dangerous for a midfielder in his time in Pescara, and Simon Skrabb: they should both have their chances because Nikolas Spalek at no.10 has been pretty inconsistent. Sandro Tonali is coming off a two-assist performance and also Stefano Sabelli and Romulo have been decently proficient in a supporting role. Continue reading