Lazio stand united as season teeters on knife-edge

Lazio Chievo

The message was clear – this is not a punishment, but a moment to address the elephant in the room.

Lazio’s failure to beat rock-bottom Chievo last weekend, a game that they needed to come from behind to take a point from, sparked an inevitable wave of criticism and pushed the club hierarchy into calling the first ‘ritiro’ of Simone Inzaghi’s reign.

It was the capital club’s third league draw in a row, with a dismal Europa League defeat to Apollon Limassol coming between those results, and came at a cost as Milan leapfrogged the Biancocelesti into the fourth and final Champions League spot they are so desperate to make their own. Continue reading

Serie A Injury Report – Round 15

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Juventus: Emre Can made the squad list, approximately two months after suffering the thyroid issue. Rodrigo Bentancur is dealing with a back problem, but he was called up. Alex Sandro (thigh) and Sami Khedira (ankle) have been ruled out, same for Andrea Barzagli, who is rumoured to have suffered a severe quad injury, and Moise Kean, who has some muscle fatigue.

Napoli: Simone Verdi will remain on the mend because of an ankle sprain, while Adam Ounas missed the last game with a minor muscular ailment. Alex Meret should be ready to start. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 15

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The next round features one of the games of the season, Juventus-Inter, and few other juicy match-ups.

Juventus-Inter: the Bianconeri got the better of Fiorentina, extending their winning streak to five fixtures, but in that occasion they were not as dominant as the final score showed. Against Roma, Inter dropped points for the second time in a row on the road and, despite scoring twice, they never looked in control. The same thing happened in Bergamo, but they are extremely opportunistic, so they can never be counted out. Cristiano Ronaldo added one to his tally with a penalty in Florence, while Rodrigo Bentancur continues to impress. Mario Mandzukic is generally money in big matches, while Douglas Costa has the potential to be a factor off the bench. Despite being useful in other areas, Paulo Dybala’s offensive stats in Serie A have been subpar. Continue reading

Serie A Injury Report – Round 14

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Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi is expected to be called up after shaking off an adductor problem, while Alex Sandro subbed off in Champions League because of a thigh issue that has not been disclosed yet, so he is questionable for the Fiorentina game. Sami Khedira (ankle) and Emre Can remain out for this week.

Napoli: Raul Albiol suffered a mild ankle sprain against Red Star Belgrade and he is at risk for the Monday game. After picking up the same injury, Amin Younes should be at the coach’s disposal, while Simone Verdi is set to skip another one, and likely few more, because his was more severe. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 14

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The next Serie A slate is pretty tasty on paper.

Fiorentina-Juventus: the Viola are having a weird season. They started off decently, showing well especially at home, where they are still undefeated and have a sound defense, but they have struggled to score recently. They have not netted more than one since late September and they have drawn in their last five matches, against Cagliari, Torino, Roma, Frosinone and Bologna. On the other hand, the Old Lady is cruising with 12 wins in the year, four in a row after the tumble against Genoa, but it will be tested before the break. Fiorentina’s offensive problems stem primarily from Giovanni Simeone and Marko Pjaca’s poor form, as they have combined for just three goals so far. Federico Chiesa is always doing stuff, but he has not bagged many as well. Continue reading

Top Four On The Line As Lazio Clash With Milan

With an injury-riddled Milan coming into the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, Lazio have to take full advantage and extend their lead in fourth place over the rossoneri by four points. As Alessio Romagnoli, Mattia Caldara and Mateo Musacchio can only look on from the sideline, Lazio talisman Ciro Immobile will look to have a field day against a makeshift Milan defence.

While, as of late, Milan have had Lazio’s number, remaining undefeated against them in their last three clashes, Gennaro Gattuso’s side face a tall task in the nation’s capital this time around. Going into the game without their first choice centre-back pairing as well as Giacomo Bonaventura and Gonzalo Higuain among other notable absentees, the rossoneri are reportedly resorting to a subdued 4-4-1-1 with Calhanoglu pairing Cutrone in attack. Lazio, by contrast, will be at full strength, and will likely field their usual 3-5-1-1 with Luis Alberto playing behind Ciro Immobile.

After a relatively inconsistent start to the season, Lazio have since picked up form, only losing once in their last seven games in all competitions. This upturn in form has seen them leapfrog both Milan and Roma in the standings for the fourth and final Champions League spot, something Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi will be holding onto dearly. After all, missing out on Europe’s elite competition last season meant stalwart defender Stefan de Vrij joined Inter in the summer.

Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 13

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The next round could be a little one-sided for the top clubs, but surprises are always around the corner in Serie A and there still a couple of juicy games on deck.

Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri prevailed in the always tense match-up with Milan, surviving a penalty but appearing pretty dominant overall. They have won in 11 of the first 12 games, setting a new Serie A-point record to start the season. SPAL looked a little better against Cagliari, but squandered a two-zip lead and had to settle for a tie. They had lost in six of the previous seven fixtures. Mario Mandzukic returned to the starting XI with an immediate goal, then Cristiano Ronaldo bagged another one. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 12

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The next slate before another international break is pretty juicy.

Genoa-Napoli: the Griffon have not won in four games and the effects of the coaching change have not been palpable, since they continue to concede a lot. They lost twice in San Siro last week and the schedule does not do them any favor. The Partenopei easily romped Empoli last week and have won three out of their last four games, looking splendid at times. Krzysztof Piatek has not scored for four games in a row, which is unlikely to be a coincidence, and their last goals under Milan Juric have been pretty random, by Cristian Romero on a free kick, by Romulo on a penalty and by Daniel Bessa on a defensive mishap. Continue reading

Lazio must overcome stage fright to realise Champions League dream

Lazio v Inter-Olimpic - Serie A - Stadium Rome

The Roman sky opened, emptying torrents of rain onto the Stadio Olimpico turf as powerful gusts of wind swept sheets of water into the stands.

The brave Lazio faithful bearing the brunt of this assault on Monday night, who had struggled through the elements to support their team, were soon left wondering why they had bothered.

After all, what they were witnessing was nothing more than an echo, the continuation of a long-running and familiar pattern that threatens to stall the progress that has been made at the capital club under Simone Inzaghi.

Before Lazio’s clash against Inter, where they had the chance to move third in Serie A, the Aquile had begun to construct a reputation as big-game bottlers. Continue reading

Serie A Injury Report – Round 10

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Juventus: Mario Mandzukic missed the Champions League game with an ankle sprain and will not be available in the weekend. Emre Can is dealing with a thyroid issue and his status is uncertain until further tests. Sami Khedira will skip a couple more games with his hamstring strain.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne subbed off against PSG for a knock on the chest but he should be good to go. Simone Verdi could miss up to a month with a grade one thigh (adductor) strain. Alex Meret and Faouzi Ghoulam were called up midweek, while Adam Ounas and Sebatiano Luperto were out because of muscle fatigue, which they will try to solve by Sunday. Continue reading