SS Lazio will look to win their third game on the bounce as they get ready to host AC Milan at the Stadio Olimpico.
The games continue to come in thick and fast in the Serie A as we head into gameweek 30 tomorrow. Juventus sit on top of the table with SS Lazio and Inter Milan on their heels with a four and eight-point gap respectively.
Lazio will hope to maintain their second place post as they welcome AC Milan who are on the look-out for a Europa League spot sitting in seventh. The Rome outfit kicked things off quite well against Atalanta in their first match after resumption, scoring two goals within 11 minutes. Their lead did not last the ninety minutes, though, as Atalanta put three past Lazio’s defence to win the game 3-2.
This defeat put a major dent in their hopes to topple Juventus’ monopoly in Italy, putting them four points adrift of them. Lazio have recovered since, beating Fiorentina and Torino with a 2-1 scoreline in their previous two fixtures.
The ongoing season has not been a bed of roses for AC Milan. They flirted with the relegation spots early on in when they dropped as low as 17th place. However, the Rossoneri have managed to pucker up since a change of management, when Stefano Pioli took over from Marco Giampaolo.
Milan preserved their unbeaten run in the league since the restart, after managing to bag a point in their last game against SPAL, courtesy a 94th minute own goal from Francesco Vicari. At the moment, they sit seventh, two points adrift of Napoli in sixth, who will have a difficult assignment against AS Roma.
The last time these two teams faced each other, Milan were able to hold down Lazio for the most of the game while keeping goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha busy. The 2-1 win for Lazio was not reflective of Milan’s display that day. Ahead of their latest meeting this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this fixture.
Tactics & Team News
Simone Inzaghi faces a lot of concerns ahead of their game against Milan. His primary problem will be going into this fixture without either one of his two preferred strikers, Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo, both of whom picked up a suspension against Torino.
Robert Lewandowski is the only player that tops the Borussia Dortmund mega-flop turned Italian demi-god Immobile in terms of goals this season in Europe, 34 compared to the Lazio striker’s 29. Nearly 45% of his team’s entire tally.
They will also be missing Senad Lulic, Luis Felipe and Adam Marusic through injury as Danilo Cataldi and Lucas Leiva remain a doubt for this fixture. Young winger Bobby Adekanye returns from injury, but it is highly unlikely he participates in this high-intensity fixture.
Thomas Strakosha will hold the fort in the six-yard-box for Lazio, looking to add to his nine clean sheets for the season. Ahead of him, the team will line up in a 3-5-1-1 with Patric, Francesco Acerbi and Stefan Radu marshalling the defence.
Manuel Lazzari and Jony will provide the width in attack and defence playing as wing-backs on the right and left sides respectively. They will be the flanks to the central midfield trio of Marco Parolo, Danilo Cataldo and Luis Alberto. Alberto will be given the license to push further up the pitch as his partners screen the defence.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will be playing off of sole striker Joaquin Correa who will take over the huge responsibility from Immobile and Caicedo. Milinkovic-Savic has clocked in 28 appearances this season, playing everywhere across the midfield, scoring five goals and assisting four times.
Probable Lineup (3-5-1-1): Strakosha; Patric, Acerbi, Radu; Lazzari, Parolo, Cataldi, Alberto, Jony; Milinkovic-Savic; Correa
Stefano Pioli will be with almost his entire string of starters except for Mateo Musacchio and Samu Castillejo, as Theo Hernandez remains a doubt. The Frenchman is pivotal to Pioli’s side and will be retained in the starting XI even if he is not 100% fit.
Theo will take responsibility of the left side of defence with Andrea Conti adding the width from the right side. They will be playing flankig the duo of Alessio Romagnoli and Simon Kjær who will start in the heart of Milan defence. This back four will shield Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has 10 clean sheets this season – joint highest.
The defence will be inoculated by the double pivot of Ismaël Bennacer and Franck Kessie. Both these players will have to make sure not to step out of position as they so often do, or they will be punished by the vision of Luis Alberto and Milinkovic-Savic.
Giacomo Bonaventura will start in the No.10 spot, flanked by Hakan Calhanoglu and Alexis Saelemaekers. Saelemaekers joined AC Milan from RSC Anderlecht on loan and has clocked in 5 impressive performances so far. Top scorer Ante Rebic will lead the line as he so often does, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Conti, Kjær, Romagnoli, Theo; Kessie, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, Bonaventura, Calhanoglu; Rebic
- SS Lazio will be without the services of Ciro Immobile for tomorrow’s game. The Italian has scored 29 goals in as many games this season.
- The last three meetings between AC Milan and Lazio at Stadio Olimpico have ended in a draw, out of which two were 0-0 games.
- This will be Lazio’s first game without Immobile this season. The 30-year-old has participated in every game in the league so far, clocking in 85 minutes per game.
- Theo Hernandez, AC Milan’s left-back, is their second-highest scorer in the season with six goals. This speaks volumes about Milan’s frail offence.
- Simone Inzaghi and Stefano Pioli have met eight times in their career, with the former coming out on top five times. Pioli has won just one encounter against his compatriot.
Player to Watch
Lazio’s midfield general, Luis Alberto has seen a turn around of fate in his career since Simone Inzaghi took over the reins at Lazio in September, 2016. He reached double figures in goals and assists in 2017/18 and there has been no stopping him since.
This season, the Spanish international has scored four goals, while providing a massive 14 assists in the league – one behind topper Alejandro Gomez. He has also been able to register the highest key passes in Italy, with 3 per game. His tally thus far is also the fifth-highest this season across the top five leagues, behind Thomas Muller, Jadon Sancho, Lionel Messi, Kevin De Bruyne and the aforementioned Gomez.
Alberto has been able to harness his top-notch form after the restart, scoring once and assisting twice. On Saturday, he will be faced with a midfield that likes to step out of their position to supplement the attack, and you best believe he will make the most use of it.
Lazio 3-1 AC Milan
Milan have had problems scoring goals all through the season, but their defence has been taken care of thanks to Alessio Romagnoli. However, tomorrow they will be faced with a motivated Lazio who will want to continue their fairy tale season and make the push for the Scudetto. They will also want to prove that they are still a side to be reckoned with without star-striker Ciro Immobile.
Milan will be locking horns with one of the best midfielders in Europe in Luis Alberto who will take full responsibility of the team in the absence of his mate. It is hard to imagine Stefano Pioli’s men getting a result against this Lazio side.