Lazio and Atalanta will hope to continue their winning start to life in the Serie A as they lock horns at the Stadio Olimpico for a delayed gameweek 1 fixture.

The Serie A was supposed to start with a cracker of a game with Atalanta visiting Rome to face off against SS Lazio. But due to the former’s participation in the UEFA Champions League last season, which went on till the quarterfinals ,following a hectic Serie A schedule, La Dea were awarded a delayed start to life in Italy.

They returned to action in the midweek trip to Turin, thrashing Torino 4-2, with an outstanding performance from captain Alejandro Gomez who scored once and assisted twice. Luis Muriel, Marten de Roon, and Hans Hateboer were also on target for the visitors while Andrea Belotti opened his Serie A account for the season with a brace for Torino.

The main man behind Atalanta's incredible success. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images for Lega Serie A)

Gian Piero Gasperini – The main man behind Atalanta’s incredible success. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images for Lega Serie A)

Lazio, too, got off with a winning start as they visited Cagliari to face off against the club with the same name. It was a thrilling game filled with end-to-end action, but a low output. Simone Inzaghi’s men could only show two goals for all their efforts, which came from Manuel Lazzari in the first half, and Ciro Immobile in the second.

Lazio vs Atalanta has become a fixture to look forward to after both the team’s achievements in the recent past, and it was one of the best games of last season as well. The matchup in Rome was one of two halves, as Le Aquile completed a comeback from 3-0 in the first half to tie the game 3-3 in the 92nd minute of the game.

On the other hand, in Bergamo, the hosts came on top with a 3-2 win, with Jose Palomino scoring the winner in the last few minutes of the game. And The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams ahead of their latest encounter this week.

Team News & Tactics

Lazio

Simone Inzaghi will be missing three players for the critical clash, with Brazilian centre-half Luis Felipe, captain Senad Lulic, and new signing Vedat Muriqi all out with injuries. Denis Vavro, who was a doubt for the previous game, was expected to make his way into the bench after his involvement in training during the week but has failed to make the squad list.

Defending Golden Boot winner Ciro Immobile is expected to lead the line on Wednesday night for Lazio, partnering alongside Joaquin Correa in a twin-striker system that will be supplemented by the wing-backs and progressive midfielders from deep.

Adam Marusic put in an excellent shift in the previous game and was one of the best players on the pitch, and will undoubtedly retain his place as the left wing-back in the five-man midfield. Donning the same duties on the right will be Manuel Lazzari, who was on target last week. These two will be flanking a midfield triumvirate of Luis Alberto, Lucas Leiva, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

That leaves us with three names for the defensive slots, which – in the absence of Luis Felipe – will be occupied by Stefan Radu in the left-of-centre slot, Patric on the right and Francesco Acerbi marshaling the defence from the centre. The Spanish-Italian-Romanian trio will be screening Thomas Stakosha who starts in goal.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Strakosha; Patric, Acerbi, Radu; Lazzari, Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Alberto, Marusic; Correa, Immobile

Atalanta

Gian Piero Gasperini is missing a handful of players as well, with new signing Aleksey Miranchuk and goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini sidelined for the next couple of weeks. Matteo Pessina returned from Hellas Verona, where he was at loan, and is injured for this game, as well. Meanwhile, Berat Djimsiti and Cristian Romero return from suspension. There is still no sign of Josip Ilicic.

Marco Sportiello is expected to have another outing between the sticks but will be hoping to do better this time out, after looking out of place against Torino. He will have the trio of Rafael Toloi, Jose Luis Palomino, and Bosko Sutalo ahead of him. Mattia Caldara was subbed at half-time after looking shaky, which might cost him his place in the lineup.

Hans Hateboer will be looking to retain his place at right wing-back in the absence of any other natural replacement for him, with Timothy Castagne sold. Robin Gosens will start ion the opposite side of the pitch. They will be flanking the double pivot of Marten de Roon and Remo Freuler in the four-man midfield setup.

Alejandro Gomez will unmistakably retain his spot in the attack, starting in the hole as the primary creative outlet for Atalanta. He will have Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel as his aides in the final third.

Ruslan Malinovskyi and Mario Pasalic are pushing for an entry into the XI and could replace Muriel which would change the formation to a 3-4-2-1. But after his goal against Torino, it is hard to see the Colombian getting benched.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Sportiello; Toloi, Palomino, Sutalo; Hateboer, de Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Gomez; Muriel, Zapata

Key Stats

  • In 28 encounters between Lazio and Atalanta in Serie A, the record is fairly even, with Lazio winning 13, and Atalanta winning 10. Five games have been draws.
  • The record between Simone Inzaghi and Gian Piero Gasperino is at a deadlock. There have come across each other nine times, with each manager winning three games.
  • In the last ten games between the two sides in the Serie A, Atalanta have won four times, lost thrice, and drawn thrice. Nearly even here as well.
  • In the last ten meetings in Serie A, Lazio fall short to Atalanta in terms of goals scored, with the scores standing at 19-20.
  • Lazio, however, have a pretty solid record against Atalanta at home, winning four of their last eight games. During the same time, Atalanta have won just twice.

Player to Watch

Alejandro Gomez

Alejandro Gomez is the primary threat tomorrow, and Lazio should treat him as such.

Alejandro Gomez is the primary threat and Lazio should treat him as such.

Alejandro Gomez has been Serie A’s standout player for two seasons in a row now, and Atalanta’s marquee player for more than five seasons in a row, ending each season with goals + assists in double digits. On a personal level, last season was his second-best ever, as he registered seven goals and 16 assists, emerging as one of the top 5 league’s best creators.

The Argentine has already started this season in incredible fashion, with a goal and two assists against Torino. He will be vital on Wednesday as well, operating in the hole behind Lazio’s jampacked midfield.

However, that is precisely where the capital outfit is most vulnerable, as they attack in numbers, leaving Lucas Leiva and the defence exposed. Gomez is most threatening when he is given space to operate, and we might see the best version of the 31-year-old at Stadio Olimpico.

Prediction

Lazio 3-3 Atalanta

Lazio are too vulnerable on the counter, primarily through the wings, exactly where Atalanta function best. As for the visitors’ defence, it is relatively easy to expose them by making runs into the channels between the centre-backs – none of whom boast strong man-marking skills. Immobile will hope that Alberto and Milinkovic-Savic are able to pick him up when he makes these runs.

Predicting another 3-3 tie might seem romantic, but that is exactly what these two sides bring to the table when they lock horns – a plethora of attacking talent and 90 minutes of thrilling counter attacks.

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