With the race for top four intensifying, Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio will have to demonstrate they are serious about their Champions League aspirations.
After the international break, the biancocelesti will travel to the San Siro to take on Inter. Inzaghi’s men currently sit eight points behind third-place Inter, and will need to claim all three points if they want to have a serious shot at qualifying for Europe’s elite competition next season.
Notorious for their strong finishes, Lazio have been in decent form in league play, losing only one of their last six clashes. Their most recent 4-1 thumping of Parma is a good indicator that Lazio are ready to put their past inconsistencies behind them and push on. In addition to dispatching Parma, the biancocelesti also defeated fierce rivals, and fellow top four competitors, Roma comfortably 3-0 just a few weeks back.
While the international break may take some wind out of their sails, they will need to maintain this form against Inter and beat an Icardi-less side. The good news for Lazio, is that their playmaker Luis Alberto, is demonstrating last season’s form, and is consistently pulling the strings between the lines again. Against Parma, the Spaniard was all over the pitch, scoring one goal and registering two assists, in what was arguably his best performance of the season.
After Inter, the capital-based side will also get the opportunity to play the current holders of fourth place, Milan, in mid-April. Much like their clash against Inter, this encounter will have massive implications for Champions League football, and they will need to be up for it. Coming off their first defeat in league play since December, Gattuso’s men will be eager to extend their lead over Lazio. Currently, the rossoneri hold a six-point cushion over Lazio, however, that may be subject to change, considering there are three fixtures before their clash.
With that being said, Milan don’t exactly have it easy prior to their game against Lazio, having to travel to Sampdoria and league leaders Juventus. Regardless, much of their top four fate will depend on their encounter against Lazio.
In the meantime, Inzaghi’s men will have to dispatch SPAL, Udinese and Sassuolo. While on paper Lazio are favourites for the three points, only a fool would take these games for granted. In the past, Lazio have dropped points against the league’s cellar dwellers and mid-table outfits; something that will need to be avoided in the month of April.
Moreover, with both SPAL and Udinese fighting for survival, these clashes will be anything but straightforward. Regardless, much like the teams around them, Lazio have no choice but to claim the three points on all three occasions, otherwise, like last season, they will be on the outside looking in come May.
As the season winds down to a close, it’s now time to separate the pretenders from the contenders. Until now, Lazio have done well to remain with the pack despite their struggles and injury concerns. With clashes against direct competitors on the horizon, the biancocelesti have no choice: Win out, or miss out. At the very least, their fate’s in their own hands.
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