Stadio Olimpico, Rome
October 20th 2012, 18:45 GMT
With only two losses so far, Lazio are turning out to be a title-contender come the end of the season. With their only blemish coming against Genoa and Napoli, Lazio have bounced back and how! From trying new formations (3-5-2) to dropping Zarate from the team, Vladimir Petkovic has been making the right noises so far. A victory over Milan will not only give them an enormous boost but also send a strong message to the rest of the league.
Milan’s season has been going south for quite some time now, a fact which was highlighted by their loss to Inter in the previous match. They can blame almost everything around them, but the fact remains that they did lose the match and that they did not collect the required points. It is indeed a very trying situation for a Milan fan, specially with rumors of Guardiola doing the rounds. However, Galliani has squashed those rumors by stating that there will be no change in the managerial seat at Milan.
Team News and Tactical Brief
There are no players from Lazio missing this match due to injury, although Sculli will miss this match due to a suspension. The strange case of Mauro Zarate continues to baffle the Biancocelesti faithful. After having starred in numerous victories with amazing performances, Zarate has been dropped – not only to the bench but from the team also. His performances have dropped considerably and Petkovic is adamant to the fact that he should earn his place in the team like everyone else.
Lazio will be using a 4-5-1 formation with Marchetti under the bars. The back-line sees the duo of Dias and Biava playing as central defenders. Lulic on the left and Konko on the right complete the defensive set-up. Lazio are adamant in keeping Lulic for a long time and they are pretty much forcing him to sign a new contract. In the 7 matches played so far, Lazio have used the 4-5-1 only once – against Siena where they won 2-1. Playing a possession brand of football, Lazio like to attack through the right mostly, playing long balls. They have strong players who thrive on individual talent and they are also equally adept in stealing balls from the opposition. With Milan also playing possession football, this will be an interesting match for statisticians and fans alike.
The five-man midfield sees Candreva and Mauri playing on the left and right flank respectively. Ledesma will be playing through the middle and he will be supported by Gonzalez on the left and Hernanes on the right. Playing as a lone striker will be Klose, who has scored 5 goals so far this season.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-5-1): Marchetti (GK); Konko, Biava, Dias, Lulic; Candreva, Gonzalez, Ledesma, Hernanes, Mauri; Klose
Milan will be missing the likes of Strasser, Didac Vila, Muntari, Mesbah, Robinho and Abbiati for this match. Ambrosini will also be missing the game due to a suspension. The good news is that Pato is back in the team and is ready to make his debut for Milan. Whether he actually gets to play in this match is a question that can only be answered by Allegri. Muntari is also back and practised with the team in the last session. All the players who had been on international duty have returned with the exception of Zapata.
Allegri has tinkered with the Milan formation this season and as a result, we are finally seeing Milan play in 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation. Although Pazzini was not a starter in the last few matches, he did come on later in place of Bojan. Allegri seems to have in mind a ‘one-striker’ system, after playing both Bojan and Pazzini did not work out. In this match, Allegri will field a 4-2-3-1 formation which will emphasize more on wing play rather than playing through the middle.
Injury to Abbiati sees Amelia start this match under the bar. Bonera and Yepes starts at the heart of defence with Abate on the right and De Sciglio on the left. De Sciglio is turning out to be an amazing find and it looks like the perennial left-back problem has finally been solved by Milan. Not only is he effective going forward, he is equally adept while defending, a quality lacking in almost all left-backs since Maldini. So much so, against Inter, at times he was the sole source of attack for Milan. Milan
The Milan midfield sees De Jong and Montolivo playing defensive screens. While De Jong will sit back and help out the defence line, Montolivo will move forward. Emanuelson and El Shaarawy will play on the right and left flanks respectively and will be looking to provide crosses to either Boateng, who will play through the center or to Bojan, who will be playing high on top. Milan should guard against predictability – Emanuelson was found crossing on every single occasion against Inter.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Amelia (GK); Abate, Bonera, Yepes, De Sciglio; De Jong, Montolivo; Emanuelson, Boateng, El Shaarawy; Bojan
Player to Watch Out For
Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan)
Montolivo is the only creative source left in Milan after the mass exodus last summer. The fact that he cannot play as a proper trequartista has played into Milan’s hands as he is now being used in the center of the field. With De Jong playing alongside him, Montolivo can go forward and create chances as was seen in the match between Italy and Denmark. Montolivo scored the opening goal and was impressive for the entire duration of the game. Inter legend Beppe Bergomi praised him saying, “In my opinion, Montolivo was Man of the Match“.
Lazio 1-1 AC Milan
This will be a closely contested match at the Stadio Olimpico. Milan might need to pull up their socks now, having started the season on a disastrous note and to cap all the things going bad, they even lost the derby to Inter. Lazio will look to extract maximum points to continue the pressure on leaders Juventus and Napoli.