Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
04 December 2010, 00:15 IST
It was May 02 2010, Roma were flying high in 1st place after their win against Parma the previous day. Inter Milan had to win their very important fixture against Lazio who apparently are Roma’s bitter rivals. The rest is history as Inter went on to win the match 2-0 and claim not only the league but also the treble rewriting history. The same hasn’t been the case this season as these two are stuck in opposite directions. Whilst Lazio have been nothing short of brilliant, Inter have been nothing short of mediocre. This match has been scheduled on Friday and will be the first of Episode 15 in the Serie A.
Biancocelesti have had a dream start to their season as they sit in 2nd place, just 3 points behind AC Milan. Lazio have hit the jackpot after they signed the impressive Brazilian Hernanes who has simply been magnificent for them. Joining him in the mix is Zarate, Mauri and Floccari, which makes Lazio’s attack arguably the best in the Serie A, along with AC Milan’s perhaps. The men from Rome could have been closer to AC Milan if they hadn’t lost a point to Catania. Aquile have collected 27 points and have 8 wins recorded against their name and they would have only one thing on their mind come Friday – this is defeat Inter. A certain Edy Reja, the mastermind behind Lazio’s exciting season thinks his team can beat Inter and go top of the table.
Growing in Confidence
After a terrible October and an average November, Champions Inter are back on track winning the last two games they have participated in. The victory against Twente in the champions league came at the right time for the Nerazzurri and they have continued in the same path by snatching a lucky win against Parma, as their hatrick hero Stankovic saved them from blushes after hitting a couple of deflected goals. However, Inter are going to face a tougher and more ruthless opponent in Lazio. Rafa Benitez is hanging on a thread and has already lost Milito for this match with an injury, making the task harder than it already is.
However, positive news is coming out on the transfer front as Inter are moving quicker to negotiate with Sampdoria for a possible move for Cassano. On the defensive side of things, the Nerazzurri are linked with Genoa man Criscito with his agent indicating that a move could be on the cards for the Italian.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Meghni, Biava and Quadri are out injured. Edy Reja is likely to opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation that will have Zarate as the lone striker with Hernanes, Floccari and Mauri as the three attacking midfielders just behind him.
Lazio have a lot of flair in their attack. They will know that Inter are fragile defensively and will look to expose the vulnerable Materazzi.
Mauri, Flocarri and Hernanes will be attacking the middle of the park and are likely to win the midfield battle. Hernanes will be the key to Lazio’s playmaking as he has been in brilliant form and has the ability to unlock the Inter defence and provide the support for the lone man Zarate up front.
In the defence, the two Centre backs Dias and Diakite will be supported by Brochhi and Ledesma in the defensive midfield. Full backs Radu and Litchstainer will provide the width along with Flocarri and Mauri. Micol will resume his goalkeeping duties.
Possible Starting Lineup: Micol, Litchstainer, Diakite, Dias, Radu, Brochhi, Ledesma, Flocarri, Hernanes, Mauri, Zarate.
Coutinho, Chivu, Mariga, Milito, Maicon, Obi and Samuel all are out of the trip to Lazio. Eto’o, the man in form for Inter is suspended after his infamous headbutt against Chievo. That leaves only three strikers for them in the squad including Bibiany, Pandev and Alibec.
Just like last week, Inter will be approaching this game with Pandev up front on his own with Sneijder dropping into the hole to unlock the Lazio defence with through balls. Motta, being fit, will make the bench so that leaves Cambiasso and Zanetti in the defensive midfield role guarding the two Centre backs Materazzi and Lucio.
Inter desperately need the width to damage the Aquile defence and that can be provided by last week’s hero Stankovic and the improving Bibiany. Supporting these two will be the full backs Santon and Cordoba. In the absence of Cesar, Castelazzi will guard his posts.
However, Inter do know that Lazio are dangerous in attack, so they will definitely approach the game in a defensive manner and will try to hit Lazio on the counter attack.
Possible Lineup: Castelazzi, Cordoba, Lucio, Materazzi, Santon, Zannetti, Cambiasso, Sneijder, Stankovic, Bibiany, Pandev.
1. Inter have an 80% winning record in this fixture.
2. Lazio has just managed to get 13 points in the 21 matches against Inter.
3. The average goals per match for this fixture is 2.3.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Mauro Zarate (Lazio): The Argentine hotshot has returned to form off late, after a mixed first three months. Zarate has scored and set up a couple of goals for his side. With the weak Inter defence, he will certainly fancy his chances and with the support of Flocarri, Mauri and the inform Hernanes, Zarate could certainly do some damage for the Aquile.
However, he will know that he is the focal point and will be marked tightly but that would increase his motivation to prove that he can handle the role and be a big game player.
Lazio 2-2 Inter
This fixture has a history of providing a lot of goals and that would leave the neutrals happy. Inter are no more hurting and are coming back to their best slowly, with a couple of important wins. A win would be a dream result in the current circumstances but a draw is a more realistic result.
Meanwhile, Lazio have put the foot on the pedal this season and are chasing AC Milan for the top spot. They would know that it would be foolish to under-estimate the Champions; at the same time, they will be fancying their chances to put pressure on Milan.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST