The biggest game of Lazio’s season is now less than a week away and, after last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to Atalanta, they could be playing for more than just silverware.
The Serie A loss came at a cost, leaving the Roman club all-but out of the top four race but also in danger of missing out on a European spot altogether as they lie in eighth place.
Lifting the Coppa Italia trophy in the final next Wednesday night would not only restore a feel-good factor to a largely underwhelming campaign for the Roman club, but ensure them of a place in next season’s Europa League.
Facing their fellow finalists in the same venue just 10 days before the main event provided a rare and valuable opportunity to scout out potential strengths and weaknesses – so what lessons can Simone Inzaghi and his team learn from it? Continue reading →
Juventus: Paulo Dybala (quad), Douglas Costa (calf), Mario Mandzukic (knee) and Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh) remain on the shelf and have been joined by Daniele Ruganiand Alex Sandro due to new thigh injuries. Martin Caceres has recovered. Emre Can was removed late from the squad list due to a muscular ailment.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne and Allan have both recuperated. Nikola Maksimovic (toe) and Amadou Diawara (foot) stay sidelined.
Standings implications: Juventus outlasted Milan on Saturday and are now one point away from the title since Napoli were held to a draw by Genoa. Roma were the only ones to succeed among the teams gunning for a Champions League berth and have pulled closer to the Rossoneri and Atalanta, who have just more point. Inter kept the suitors at bay by drawing against the Orobici, while Lazio salvaged a point at the buzzer against Sassuolo. A slow round in the Europa League race too, as Torino could not find a way to perforate Parma and the Blucerchiati were bested at home by the Giallorossi. Fiorentina keep slipping and Stefano Pioli is on the hot seat after the loss to Frosinone. In the relegation zone, Udinese capped off a big week by topping Empoli and moving four points clear of Bologna, which responded and got out of the final three spots on Monday night by trashing Chievo. Cagliari are almost save after sinking SPAL, which stay in precarious position. Frosinone are trying to mount a late comeback that would be quite incredible: the two consecutive Ws put them five points behind Empoli.
Despite failing to earn a shutout win due to a schoolboy error, Lazio had by far the most dominating performance in the round and vanquished Parma with a magnificent first half.
They came into the game looking to redeem themselves after a slightly disappointing tie in Florence, where they could have easily won the game with more precision and more intensity, especially in the second half, while they squashed Roma in the Derby two weeks ago. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Juventus dropped their first game in Genoa, while Napoli tamed Udinese and so the lead yo-yoes back to 15 points. Inter resurrected at the most opportune time and torpedoed Milan in the Derby della Madonnina, reclaiming the third spot. Roma did not take advantage as they had a poor showing in Ferrara. It was a good week for Lazio, as they demolished Parma, while Atalanta got stymied by Chievo and Torino came up empty-handed against Bologna. In the lower districts, mammoth wins for the Felsinei, SPAL and Empoli, who sunk Frosinone in the head-to-head bout. Udinese fell back in the mud, as they are now just two points above the Felsinei. Cagliari kept the opponents at bay with a precious W against Fiorentina.
Cagliari-Inter: the Sardinians are coming off a 0-1 loss to Sampdoria, where they were offensively challenged, and have prevailed just once in the past seven games, where they have been beaten five times. Inter had a crazy one with Fiorentina last week, where they were pipped at the post due to a questionable penalty. They had defeated Parma and the Blucerchiati in the two previous fixtures and need point to stave off Milan and Roma’s comeback. The Rossoblù have found the net in just one of their last five games and only with one player, Leonardo Pavoletti. Continue reading →
Juventus-Sampdoria: after a string of close wins over fierce enemies, the Bianconeri draw against Atalanta, in a game where they came back in ten men. It is just their second tie in Serie A. The Blucerchiati are in a marvelous moment, as they have not lost in the last six games and have won in four of their last five. The offensive production remained the same for Juventus in the last four matches, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic were the only one to hit the net. Paulo Dybala is stuck in a playmaking role, while Douglas Costa has always been more of an assist man. They are awaiting for some goals out of the midfield and Emre Can and Sami Khedira have some potential there, while Rodrigo Bentancur will be suspended in this one. On the other hand, Sampdoria’s attack is humming as Fabio Quagliarella has scored for eight matches in a row and Gaston Ramirez, Gianluca Caprari and Riccardo Saponara have all found the target recently and even Karol Linetty and Dennis Praethave done some damage. The only one not playing well is Gregoire Defrel, but this could be a decent match-up for his skillset, should he be given the start. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Juventus were pretty lucky to grab a tie against Atalanta, however Napoli got beat by Inter and therefore the Bianconeri’s lead widened, while the Nerrazzuri and the Partenopei are now separated by five points. Both Roman teams looked pretty good in the midweek round as Lazio’s win in Bologna was never in doubt and the Giallorossi routed Sassuolo. Milan were held to a tie in Frosinone, so Sampdoria, which were the first to defeat Domenico Di Carlo’s Chievo, now lead the Europa League race. Torino remain in the mix after they handed a drubbing to Empoli, while Fiorentina laid an egg against Parma. SPAL and Udinese did not hurt each other, while Cagliari returned to winning ways against Genoa.
Alex Meret(7 points): five clean sheets this week, with some fine goalkeeping too. Napoli had to sweat against SPAL, but the youngster answered the bell with two solid saves to protect the result late.
Raul Albiol(9 points): the Azzurri attack came up shot on Saturday, but the Spanish defender steered the game in their direction with a wicked header that turned out to be the game-winner.
Mattia De Sciglio (7 points): Juventus’ back-line did not crack under pressure versus Roma and the fullback played a major role in the deciding goal with a sharp cross to set up Mario Mandzukic. Continue reading →
Lazio were denied the clean sheet, and therefore a great fantasy haul, in the final minutes, but they still had by far the most commanding display of any team on Saturday. They had failed to win in five straight games, drawing with Sassuolo, Milan, Chievo and Sampdoria and tumbling against Atalanta.
Coming into the match, there were rumours Simone Inzaghi would do away with his usual 3-5-1-1 to field his three creative midfielders together. He indeed deployed Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa from the start, but did it by keeping out both Milan Badelj and Lucas Leiva and using Marco Parolo as metronome in a very aggressive formation. Continue reading →