Lazio-Stuttgart Preview: The hosts have one foot in the final after a convincing win in Germany
The Biancocelesti have dropped out of the European places in Serie A but are still very much alive in this season’s Europa League after a 2-0 first-leg victory
By Jerrad Peters
Pereirinha, Biava, Dias, Radu
Candreva, Gonzalez, Mauri, Lulic
Sakai, Tasci, Rudiger, Molinaro
Harnik, Gentner, Okazaki, Traore
Lazio have failed to find the back of the net in three of their last four Serie A matches but have been in noticeably better goalscoring form in Europe, where they have scored seven goals in their previous three outings - two of which came against Stuttgart in the first leg of this Europa League round of 16 tie.
Midfielders Hernanes and Lorik Cana picked up yellow cards in the victory, however, and as a result will miss the return fixture through suspension.
Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic will also be without midfielder Cristian Brocchi who has a fractured metatarsal, Antonio Rossi who has a pulled hamstring, as well as striker Miroslav Klose and right-back Abdoulay Konko, both of whom are recovering from serious knee injuries and not due back until next month.
Stuttgart meanwhile welcome striker Vedad Ibisevic back from suspension. The Bosnia-Herzegovina international will replace Manchester United loanee Federico Macheda, who started on his own up top for the first leg. Fellow forward Cacau remains sidelined after a cruciate ligament rupture.
Also missing are midfielders Alexandru Maxim and Mamadou Bah, who have nose and tibula fractures, respectively.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Lazio have dropped to sixth in Serie A after being as high as third earlier this season. They have won just one of their last eight matches in the league.
- Striker Libor Kozak, a Czech Republic international, is the highest active goalscorer in the Europa League with seven goals.
- Lazio have conceded just five goals in their last nine Europa League matches.
- Stuttgart have won just one Bundesliga match in 2013 and are presently 14th in the division - still eight points clear of Augsburg and a relegation playoff.
- Stuttgart have not managed more than two goals in a match in any competition since a December 8 win over Schalke.
- With 20 goals in all competitions, Vedad Ibisevic is Stuttgart’s top goalscorer this season.
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Top 3 Predictions
Lazio 2-0 VfB Stuttgart
- 24.37 %
Lazio 2-1 VfB Stuttgart
- 14.25 %
Lazio 3-0 VfB Stuttgart
- 12.41 %
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Mar 14, 2013||Lazio 3 - VfB Stuttgart 1|
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Mar 7, 2013||VfB Stuttgart 0 - Lazio 2|
|Club Friendlies (FR)||Jul 17, 2007||Lazio 1 - VfB Stuttgart 1|
|Dec 2, 2013||Lazio 2 - SSC Napoli 4||ITA1|
|Nov 28, 2013||Legia Warsaw 0 - Lazio 2||EL|
|Nov 24, 2013||Sampdoria 1 - Lazio 1||ITA1|
|Nov 10, 2013||Parma 1 - Lazio 1||ITA1|
|Nov 7, 2013||Lazio 2 - Apollon Limassol 1||EL|
|26||Felipe Aliste Lopes||Defender|
|4||William Kvist Jörgensen||Midfielder|
He has scored six goals in all competitions this season and is also among Lazio’s assist leaders. He didn’t feature in the first leg but will be recalled for this match and will constitute Libor Kozak’s most reliable line of supply over the 90 minutes. Stuttgart left-back Cristian Molinaro is in for a long night.
He was sorely missed in the first leg as Stuttgart offered little in the way of meaningful goalscoring opportunitites. If there is a way back for the Germans—and it’s unlikely—you’d have to think the former Hoffenheim marksman would have to be good for at least a brace at Stadio Olimpico.
Barcelona overturned a 2-0 aggregate deficit on Tuesday, but they were at home, and Stuttgart aren’t Barcelona. Not by a long shot. Lazio’s struggles in the league have been softened by their European form, and they should expect to continue their winning run with an outright victory on Thursday.