Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy
April 23, 2011, 06:30 PM IST
The Scudetto title is virtually out of Inter’s hands after their defeat to Parma last week. No one expected that result considering Parma are battling relegation which might have been the only thing motivating them. Inter, on the other hand have lost 2 of their 3 matches in the Serie A with their arch rivals Milan beating them in the start of April. That was followed by a home win against lowly Chievo resulting in a 10 match stretch of victories at the San Siro. The defending Champions are 8 points behind the league leaders Milan with just 5 matches to be played. Having said that, Milan have to travel to tough places like Udinese and Roma in this period which would give the Nerazzurri a ray of hope in the title race. If they are to sustain their title challenge, Inter have to win this match at any cost. Mincing no words, Leonardo has challenged his team to win their remaining fixtures.
Lazio were one of the front runners in the early parts of the season. But, the Romans have burned out and will be happy to settle for a Champions league spot. Yet, Lazio are still not guaranteed that elusive 4th spot with Udinese in fine form off late. Lazio are a point ahead of the Udinese and they’ll know any slip up against Inter might as well end their Champions League hopes. In order to stick on to the 4th place, Lazio need a point atleast when they travel to Milan.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Apart from Samuel, Inter have no fresh injury concerns. However, fatigue has been doing its bit wrecking the Nerazzurri in this past month which has seen them out of Europe and lose grip on the Scudetto. The Nerazzurri will employ their usual 4-3-1-2 formation with Cesar between the posts. Ranocchia and Lucio will hold on to their Central Defensive roles whilst Maicon and Nagatomo will be busy out wide on the flanks.
Cambiasso will be key, in the holding role, when it comes to breaking the play and linking the two sides of the pitch – attack and defense. Zanetti and Stankovic will provide the width from the midfield. Sneijder will be the creative head trying to create space and chances for his strikers Eto’o and Pazzini. Eto’o like always will play the free role roaming around and behind the opposition defense. Pazzini will be the lone man upfront and has to hold the line for his team.
Inter will know that they will have to take whatever chances they get against a very tough Lazio side who will come hammer and tongs at them. In order to gain 3 points, Inter will have to considerably outscore their opponents seeing as how weak they have been defensively under Leonardo. Cambiasso will be the key for them with Zanetti burning his lungs defensively and offensively. Eto’o will have to get back to his best if Inter are to have any chance of winning this one. However, the most important part for the Nerazzurri will be Lucio who with his experience has to guide Ranocchia and lessen the burden on Julio Cesar.
Possible Line-up: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Ranocchia, Nagatomo; Zanetti, Cambiasso, Stankovic; Sneijder; Eto’o, Pazzini
Lazio played a very offensive style last time against Inter and were rewarded with a 3-1 win. They have no reason to change that system against a fragile Inter defense.
Muslera will start at goal with Dias and Biava at the centre of defense. These two will have to be aware of Eto’o who can take them both on his day and punish Muslera. So, the full backs Lichtsteiner and Garrido will have to help their central defenders stop Eto’o and Pazzini. Brochhi and Ledesma will circle around Sneijder to stop the Dutchman from creating chances.
Zarate and Hernanes have plenty of talent and pace to trouble Inter’s full backs and will be crucial to Lazio’s chances of winning this tie. If neither of them have a good day, the men from Rome will have a tough time. Mauri will be the creator in chief and will play in the hole behind the lone striker Floccari.
Lazio will do most of the attacking and will most likely play a high line of defense leaving them susceptible on the counter. So, they will have to score more goals than their opponents in order to stay in contention for the 4th place and maybe as well snatch the 3rd place away from Inter.
Possible Line-up: Muslera; Lichtsteiner, Biava, Dias, Garrido; Brocchi, Ledesma; Zarate, Hernanes, Mauri; Floccari
Inter Milan: W-L-L-W-L
- Inter have lost only once in the last 14 league games against Lazio.
- Lazio have scored seven goals in their last three games.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Stankovic is having one hell of a month in terms of scoring spectacular goals. The first came against Schalke at the San Siro and now the second has given his side a crucial advantage against Roma in the Coppa Italia. A players’ favourite, the Serbian is key to Inter’s attacking front and can be the one to unlock the Lazio defense.
Dejan has scored a decent 8 goals for a wide midfielder. With Eto’o and Sneijder jaded upfront, Inter will be looking for their Serbian to pull one more out of his brilliant collection of goals.
Inter Milan 2-2 Lazio
Lazio battered Inter back in the capital but things will not be easy for them at the Champions’ home. Inter themselves have lost 2 of their last 3 matches in the Serie A against Milan and Parma. However, Inter have hardly put a foot wrong at the San Siro after Leonardo took over which should see them through to gain a point against a very tough Lazio side.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST