S. S. Lazio have the chance (again) to make a bit of a statement in the Serie A, with a match against AC Milan coming up for l’Aquile at the Stadio Olimpico.
Having lost woefully at Napoli just a month ago, third placed Lazio will see Milan’s visit not only as a chance to keep pace with the league’s pacesetters, but also as an opportunity to show that it can get the points against the big teams.
Vladimir Petkovic’s side will also be motivated by the fact that a win over Milan will see Biancocelesti reduce the four point gap between it and one or both of league leaders Juventus and second placed Napoli, as both clash at Turin in Saturday’s evening kick-off.
Saturday’s late kick-off in Rome remains a high profile match despite Milan’s misfortunes this season. The Rossoneri finds itself down in 11th place, with just seven points from as many matches.
Milan have also had to deal with head coach Massimo Allegri in a reported heated exchange with youth coach Filippo Inzaghi, continuously backing Allegri’s position as coach inspite of a poor start to the season as well as fending off rumours of a sale of the club to Qatari investors.
On the flip side, the Rossoneri played well for large spells in the loss to Inter Milan last time out. Days before that loss, Milan held their nerves to gain a crucial 3-2 Champions League at Zenit St. Petersburg after throwing a two-goal lead away.
The biggest boost for Allegri’s side however will be the return to fitness of Brazilian forward Alexander Pato from an injury sustained on international duty at the Olympics.
Milan’s main threat however will be Italian youngster Stephen El-Shaarawy. With four league goals so far, the 19 year old has proved an unlikely pillar for Milan in the absence of Pato and lack of form from the likes of Robinho, who is out injured, or Ricardo Montolivo.
With a difficult trip to face Champions League Group C leaders Malaga coming after Saturday’s trip to Rome, the next five days are crucial to Milan’s season.
Likewise to Lazio’s season, though coach Petkovic believes Lazio should only be considered contenders for the Scudetto or otherwise by Christmas while urging his players to be at their best in the league and in Europe.
The Bosnian tactician also believes Lazio at the moment can beat Milan, a view echoed by midfielder Cristian Brocchi who stated Milan is “wounded” at the moment.
And indeed Lazio, hardly ever so, is favourite going into the encounter and will be banking on Hernanes and Miroslav Klose to deliver the goods upfront, with Klose in a rich scoring streak having hit home five league goals so far; including a brace last time out at Pescara.
He also scored a brace for Germany in Tuesday’s thrilling 4-4 draw against Sweden in a World Cup qualifier to come within two goals of Gerd Muller’s record of 68 goals for the German national team.
Petkovic will hope he maintains his form on Saturday and ensure Lazio secure a result similar to last season’s corresponding fixture. A win for Milan however will help ease the pressure weighing on Allegri.
P.S: FORZA BIANCOCELESTI!!!