Serie A Best Fantasy XI – Round 26

Thomas Strakosha (seven points): the Lazio goalie was the only one that managed to keep a clean sheet out of the eight teams that played over the weekend and he helped out with some strong saves, especially in the first half.

Luiz Felipe (four points): he had big shoes to fill as the Biancocelesti’s defensive leader, Francesco Acerbi, was unavailable against Bologna, but he stepped up and quarterbacked the back-line with command and tidiness. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 26

Standings implications: sadly, a late decision by the League to postpone few matches that were scheduled to be played behind closed doors took the legs from underneath the second round in a row and now the table is poised to be full of asterisks for a while.

In the limited ones that were indeed played, Lazio took full advantage of Juventus-Inter not happening, got the job done versus Bologna and jumped on top of the standings. Atalanta dismantled Lecce, thus fending off Roma in the Champions League race, which survived Cagliari’s late rally. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 26

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

Serie A Match of the Week – Genoa vs Lazio

Genoa-Lazio was pretty decidedly the best match of the weekend, as the Griffon managed to stay in the game despite conceding early and going down two goals in two separate occasions.

The Biancocelesti came in having torpedoed Inter in a pivotal clash last week, while the Rossoblù had not lost in a month as they had beaten Cagliari and Bologna and tied with Atalanta and Fiorentina in the last four rounds. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 24

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

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 23

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

Lazio continue to be a threat to Juventus with a 5 star performance

Can any club in Italy stop Juventus from winning their 8th title in a row? The nearest challenger seemed to be coming from Inter Milan who have not picked up a title since 2010, but in the background there has been a constant threat and that is from Lazio, who have gone two decades without the league.

Lazio have traditionally been there and thereabouts in season past, but this one the club from Rome have really stepped up, showing the type of consistency that a newer generation has rarely seen.

At the weekend Lazio beat SPAL 5-1 to move to within 2 points of Inter in 2nd and 5 points of Juventus. It was the clubs 15th win of the season. Next weekend they will play Verona at home and Inter will have to play in the Milan derby where points can easily be dropped and there is a chance that Lazio could move into 2nd.

Ciro Immobile has been firing in the goals for Lazio and has simply been brilliant this season, he already has 25 goals and has made 6 assists. So Immobile has been involved in 31 of Lazio’s goals from a total of 52 that’s well over 50% of their league goals this season. Immobile is also on course to break the all time Serie A goal scoring record for a season. Currently it is held by Gonzalo Higuain who broke the record in 2016 when he notched 36 goals in. He will need 12 more goals from 17 games to do it.

Simone Inzaghi is really building up his coaching career and has been a Lazio man since retiring from the game. He played for Lazio for 11 years and has been in the coaching set up of the club since 2010. This season is Inzaghi’s 4th in charge. He has won 3 trophies with the club, all domestic ones and this could be a major season for the club who at worst look like qualifying for the Champions League, but Inzaghi will have the league in his thoughts.

Whilst we can wax lyrical about Immobile’s goals football has never been a one man team and much praise should also go to Luis Alberto. The midfield maestro has scored 3 goals but also has assisted in another 11 goals making him one of the most valuable players in the squad. A defence led by Luiz Felipe has ensured 6 clean sheets this season and that means that Lazio have the 2nd best defensive record in Serie A. As far as goalscoring goes they have 52 and only Atalanta have more than them, skewered slightly by their freakish 7-0 win over Torino last week.

How far Lazio can go is up to them of course. Football can be fine margins because they have lost just 2 games, that’s the same as leaders Juventus and yet there is still a 5 point gap. If Lazio are to surprise everyone with a league win they can’t just rely on Juventus having a few bad games, they will most probably have to face them and beat them too. By the end of this month things should be clearer because 5 points is a gap, just a few more and it would be hard to see Lazio close that.

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Lazio-SPAL: Team news, stats, and prediction

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.

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.

Probable XI’s:

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.

STATS

- 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.

PREDICTION

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.

Lazio-SPAL: 3-1

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Serie A Match of the Round – Derby della Capitale

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

Five big questions facing Lazio and Roma ahead of a momentous Rome Derby

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The biggest fixture on the Roman football calendar returns on Sunday, when Roma look to close the gap on their high-flying neighbours Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico.

But what are the major talking points?

1. How will Lazio cope with the favourites tag?

Derby matches are synonymous with clichés about the ‘form book going out the window’, but the Roman version has helped prove that adage to be true over the years.

You don’t have to look too far to find examples of the team in worse form winning the Derby della Capitale, but rarely has the gap between the two sides’ form been as pronounced as it is going into Sunday’s meeting. Continue reading