Lazio v Inter Milan Preview
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
by Jerrad Peters (@jerradpeters)
MATCH IN A SENTENCE: Inter Milan’s title hopes were invigorated by Sunday’s win against Napoli, but to continue putting the heat on Serie A leaders Juventus they’ll need to get a result against a Lazio side that defeated the Nerazzurri in their last meeting and are unbeaten in five in the league.
BREAKDOWN: A modest unbeaten run can do wonders for your place in the standings in Serie A these days. Lazio, whose five-match streak includes a win against Roma and draw away to Juventus, come into Saturday’s match in fourth place and just four points back of opponents Inter Milan, who are, themselves, only four points adrift of the reigning champions.
Nevertheless, Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti doesn’t want his teammates to get carried away just yet and on Friday told Sky Italia that it would be “premature” to put “Lazio” and “Scudetto” in the same sentence at the moment.
“Talk of winning the championship is too soon,” he said. “But we deserve a top position in the league because we are able to compete with any team.”
Inter, for their part, had taken only one of a possible nine points in the three matches following their 3-1 win at Juventus on November 3 but looked back to their best in a 2-1 win over Napoli on Sunday.
The Nerazzurri have so far beaten the Bianconeri, Milan and Fiorentina in addition to Napoli this season and manager Andrea Stramaccioni, in his Friday press conference, revealed his pride at Inter’s good performances against some of the biggest clubs in the country.
“The feats of strength Inter have managed in the head-to-head clashes have given us the confidence that we can do well,” he said. “The lost points are our regret, but it makes us realise that there is room for improvement. If we had lost to the big teams it would have been worse.
ESSENTIALS: Lazio’s casualty list is lengthy, but the good news is striker Miroslav Klose is fit to play from the beginning on Saturday. The Germany international leads his side with nine Serie A goals so far this term.
Unavailable are defender Giuseppe Biaba, midfielder Ederson and forward Tommaso Rocchi, all of whom are injured. Defender Luis Cavanda and forward Libor Kozak are each suspended.
Inter are set to be without defender Christian Chivu and midfielders Dejan Stankovic, Joel Obi and Gaby Mudingayi. Trequartista Wesley Sneijder remains absent from the first team due to a contract dispute.
KEY BATTLE: Brazilian playmaker Hernanes pulls the strings in the Lazio attack and should attract significant attention from Inter midfielder Walter Gargano on Saturday. Going the other way, Alvaro Pereira will likely start on the left wing for Inter once again and will look to limit the effectiveness of Lazio’s Antonio Candreva while putting pressure on the Rome side’s right-back.
FORMATIONS: Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic will deploy a 4-1-4-1 formation with Candreva and Stefano Mauri out wide and Hernanes and Alvaro Gonzalez supporting Klose, who will function as the lone striker.
Stramaccioni will go with a 3-5-2 formation similar to what he used against Napoli. Antonio Cassano and Diego Milito will start up front.
BETLINE: Lazio 7/5; Draw 23/10; Inter Milan 15/8. Both sides have won each of the last two matches they’ve hosted in this rivalry.