There’s no better way to cap off Serie A Gameweek 19 than a mouth-watering contest between Lazio and Milan at the Stadio Olimpico. Tuesday’s clash in the capital pits two sides with lofty ambitions in a must-win derby match.
After a sluggish two-game winless start to the new calendar year (D1, L1), Lazio steadied the ship with a comfortable 2-0 win at Sassuolo last weekend. However, Maurizio Sarri’s team paid a hefty price at the Mapei Stadium, losing their talisman Ciro Immobile to a thigh injury within the opening 15 minutes.
Lazio suffered a lot in their Coppa Italia last-16 tie against Bologna Without their headline striker on Thursday. However, one mistake was enough for Felipe Anderson to hand the Biancocelesti a hard-earned 1-0 victory and fire them into the competition’s quarterfinals. Unfortunately for Sarri, he has yet to receive a positive fitness update on Immobile.
Unlike their hosts, Milan are no longer part of the Coppa Italia frame after shockingly losing to a ten-man Torino 1-0 at home a fortnight ago. To make things worse, Stefano Pioli’s men could only eke out a 2-2 draw at newly-promoted Lecce last weekend, losing crucial ground on Napoli. But it wasn’t the end of an embarrassing seven-day spell for the Rossoneri.
As defending Serie A champions, Milan headed to Saudi Arabia to meet bitter rivals Inter in the Supercoppa Italiana showpiece on Wednesday. It was a thoroughly unpleasant experience for Pioli’s men, as they were utterly outclassed by the Nerazzurri, finishing on the wrong side of a 3-0 scoreline.
Back to Serie A, where they trail table-topping Napoli by a considerable 12 points, Milan will be keen to make amends at the Olimpico.
The abovementioned triumph at Sassuolo helped Lazio arrest a frustrating three-match winless run in Serie A (D1, L2), though they’ve not won back-to-back league games since November. If they’re to claim a first top-four finish since 2019/20, consistency is a necessary component. But a return of one win across their last four home league fixtures cannot inspire much confidence (D2, L1).
Luckily for them, a slightly superior goal difference to Atalanta puts them in fourth at the start of this round. Sarri has based his side’s top-four charge on a rock-solid backline, with Lazio keeping a clean sheet in 56% of their Serie A outings this season (10/18). It’s worth mentioning they’ve already eclipsed their entire last season’s tally of nine shutouts.
Player to Watch: Mattia Zaccagni
With Immobile’s selection availability hanging by a thread, Lazio will turn to their joint-highest scorer Mattia Zaccagni to come up with the goods. The versatile forward has clocked seven goals and three assists in Serie A this term, so all eyes should be on him.
Milan have been the embodiment of inconsistency on the road of late, with their last five Serie A away matches fluctuating between different outcomes (W2, D2, L1). However, they have only lost once on their nine top-flight travels in 2022/23 (W4, D4), so there’s no reason to panic as of yet.
Adding to this sentiment, Milan completed a league double over Lazio last season, including a come-from-behind 2-1 win in this corresponding fixture in April. Replicating that feat on Tuesday would see the Rossoneri register three Serie A victories over the Biancocelesti in a row for the first time since 2009.
Player to Watch: Rafael Leao
Unless Rafael Leao regains his mojo, Milan’s titles hopes could be dead in the water at the end of this round. The sought-after Portuguese forward has amassed eight goals and five assists in Serie A this term, accounting for 37% of his side’s total goal shares.
Barring a talented young defender Mario Gila, Sarri will have the remainder of his squad fit to take on Milan. But Lazio cannot rest easy until Immobile’s fitness status is resolved, with the striker’s thigh injury requiring further assessments.
On the other hand, the visitors’ substantial injury list now includes just Mike Maignan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alessandro Florenzi, Rade Krunic, and Fode Ballo-Toure. That’s after Ante Rebic and Divock Origi rejoined the fold in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Lazio vs Milan Potential Lineups
Lazio (4-3-3): Ivan Provedel; Manuel Lazzari, Patric, Alessio Romagnoli, Adam Marusic; Danilo Cataldi, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Luis Alberto; Pedro, Felipe Anderson, Mattia Zaccagni.
Milan (4-2-3-1): Ciprian Tatarusanu; Davide Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Simon Kjaer, Theo Hernandez; Ismael Bennacer, Sandro Tonali; Junior Messias, Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao; Olivier Giroud.
Lazio vs Milan Prediction
Neither side would benefit much from a draw, but a loss would be a catastrophe, especially for Milan as it would not only discard them as Scudetto contenders but throw their top-four hopes into doubt. But after being victorious in two of their last three top-flight visits to Lazio (L1), the Rossoneri won’t be short of confidence.
We’d give Milan the upper hand, though Immobile could be the catalyst to sway things the other way if he recovers in time.
Prediction: Milan Win
|Follow us on Google News for more updates on Serie A and Italian football