As the Nerazzurri hope to get their domestic campaign back on track, Stefano Federici looks at how the Biancocelesti will have other ideas.Lazio-Inter is a game that remains notorious to many for the famous ‘Oh Nooo’ banner that appeared in the Curva Nord during the Nerazzurri victory back in early May. With the Biancocelesti occupying the lower realms of the standings at the time, there was little chance that Edoardo Reja’s side would pull off a home victory against the Nerazzurri juggernaut which eventually went on to make a clean sweep in all competitions.
Things change very quickly in football, however. As the sides prepare to go head to head once again this evening, events during the course of the early season have swung the favour into the hands of the capital outfit as they look to confirm their best start since the turn of the millennium.
Inter, on the other hand, have come crashing down to earth with a bump. After failing to reinforce during the transfer market, Rafael Benitez’s side were hit by a colossal injury crisis which robbed the tactician of his most prized possessions. Now the Nerazzurri have been left to play catch up, as cross town rivals Milan edge away at the top of the standings.
After overcoming Parma in an wild 5-2 victory at the San Siro last weekend, the Beneamata are unlikely to find so much joy against the high flying Aquile. With the probable line-ups a clear indication as to Inter’s ongoing crisis, here are five reasons why their woes look set to continue this evening.
Lazio (4-3-1-2): Muslera; Lichtsteiner, Biava, Dias, Radu; Brocchi, Matuzalem, Mauri; Hernanes; Zarate, Floccari
Inter (4-4-1-1): Castellazzi; Natalino, Lucio, Cordoba, Zanetti; Biabiany, Stankovic, Cambiasso, Muntari; Sneijder; Pandev
Inter's Lack Of Firepower: Goran Pandev looks set to go solo in attack as he prepares to face his former side at the Olimpico for the first time since the split last January. The Macedonian is far better accustomed to playing in a support striker’s role but with Samuel Eto’o suspended the 27 year old will once again be handed the scoring responsibilities. Without a goal since the Supercoppa victory over Roma back in August, it looks unlikely he will find joy against the super Biava-Dias pairing.
The Midfield Battle: The midfield is an area where Inter usually overcome their opposition. Taking a closer looking at the starting XI it is clear that Benitez’s side could struggle against the Aquile who have a host of attacking threats coming from beyond the forward line. With Esteban Cambiasso likely to pick up Hernanes, it will be interesting to see how Biabiany, Stankovic and Muntari line up against the trio of Brocchi, Matuzalem and Mauri. The Inter triplet is by no means superior to that of the home side and this is definitely an area where the game could be won or lost.
Hernanes: The Brazilian spoke in determined fashion during the pre-match press conference of his ‘desire’ to keep Lazio at the top end of the standings for the duration of the season. After an inspiring performance during the 1-1 draw against Catania, the former Sao Paulo man demonstrated there is still some gas left in his engine despite having played a gruelling 56 games so far this year. Having been linked with a move to the Nerazzurri during the summer, the 25 year old will certainly show the Biscione what they missed out on as they gambled on the far from impressive Philippe Coutinho instead.
Fragile At The Back: Although they have the least goals conceded this term alongside Lazio and Chievo, the Nerazzurri have shown themselves to be uncharacteristically weak in defence in recent weeks. Conceding in each of their last five games on the peninsula, Inter dropped valuable points against Brescia, Lecce and Chievo for their inability to keep a clean sheet. Since key man Walter Samuel suffered a season ending knee-injury against Brescia a month ago the Biscione have looked far from organised at the back. With a host of attacking options Lazio will certainly create chances in front of goal.
Edy Reja’s Organisation: Lazio have proven to be a superbly organised outfit and have proven difficult to break down in every game so far this term. The Biancocelesti usually achieve their best when they sit back and wait to hit the opposition on the break. Having already overcome Palermo, Napoli, Bari and Fiorentina in a similar fashion, coach Reja will be delighted to welcome Benitez who demands his side use a possession based style. The longer the Aquile keep a clean sheet at the back the more threatening they will become on the counter, as witnessed on numerous occasions this term.
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