Lazio - Napoli Preview: Champions League rivals prepare to do battle in Italian capital
A feisty encounter is on the cards when the two outfits take to the Olimpico on Saturday, as the race for a top-three finish begins to hot up with the end of the season approaching
By Livio Caferoglu
Scaloni, Biava, Diakite, Konko
Gonzalez, Hernanes, Mauri
C'pagnaro, Cannavaro, Britos, Aronica
Dzemaili, Inler, Hamsik
A surprise 3-1 reverse to Parma last weekend saw Lazio suffer a third defeat in four Serie A matches, but despite their recent poor form, they still lead the way in race for the last Champions League spot.
However, Edy Reja's job isn't made any easier with the news that first-teamers Cristian Brocchi, Andre Dias, Miroslav Klose, Marius Stankevicius, Matuzalem, Stefan Radu and Senad Lulic will all miss out on the game against Napoli.
As a result, a number of changes are on the horizon for the Romans as Mobido Diakite, Lionel Scaloni, Hernanes and Lorik Cana are likely to deputise for the absentees.
For Napoli, coach Walter Mazzarri will be without injured trio Andrea Dossena, Marco Donadel and Christian Maggio, while Juan Zuniga and Walter Gargano are suspended. As a result, the 50-year-old is being tipped to switch to a 4-3-1-2 formation from his tried-and-trusted 3-5-2.
Miguel Britos, Blerim Dzemaili and Goran Pandev are the players set to be flung into contention, with Hamsik dropping into midfield from his usual attacking role behind the strikers.
||DID YOU KNOW|
- Lazio have won just one of their last five meetings with Napoli - a 2-0 victory in November 2010.
- The Biancocelesti have been victorious in five of their last six games on home soil.
- Tommaso Rocchi has already scored three goals against the Partenopei and could net his 100th Serie A strike on Saturday.
- Over the last 20 years, Napoli have won just twice at the Olimpico against Lazio.
- Edinson Cavani has scored four goals versus the Biancocelesti, including one of his three Serie A hat-tricks.
- Napoli lead in the head-to-head by 38 wins to 34 against Lazio.
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Top 3 Predictions
Lazio 2-1 SSC Napoli
- 14.61 %
Lazio 1-3 SSC Napoli
- 12.79 %
Lazio 1-2 SSC Napoli
- 12.1 %
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Apr 13, 2014||SSC Napoli 4 - Lazio 2|
|Italy - Coppa Italia (ITAC)||Jan 29, 2014||SSC Napoli 1 - Lazio 0|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Dec 2, 2013||Lazio 2 - SSC Napoli 4|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Feb 9, 2013||Lazio 1 - SSC Napoli 1|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Sep 26, 2012||SSC Napoli 3 - Lazio 0|
|Apr 13, 2014||SSC Napoli 4 - Lazio 2||ITA1|
|Apr 6, 2014||Lazio 2 - Sampdoria 0||ITA1|
|Mar 30, 2014||Lazio 3 - Parma 2||ITA1|
|Mar 26, 2014||Genoa 2 - Lazio 0||ITA1|
|Mar 23, 2014||Lazio 1 - AC Milan 1||ITA1|
|26||Morgan De Sanctis||Goalkeeper|
|5||Miguel Angel Britos||Defender|
The Brazilian returns to the starting lineup for the visit of the Neapolitans and it will come as a timely boost to the hosts, who lack creativity and imagination in the final third when he is absent. Eight goals and nine assists speak volumes about his impact when in the team, and he could be the key to Lazio unlocking the Napoli defence.
When he doesn't play well, neither does his team and it's as simple as that. For all of Lavezzi's endeavour against Juventus last weekend, he failed to produce a spark against the league leaders, but now has the perfect opportunity to complete his redemption. The hosts' defence is makeshift at best, so the onus will be on the Argentine pocket rocket to deliver the goods.
Both sides are leaking goals at an alarming rate, so an outright winner is too tough to call. However, Napoli's goalscoring potency means they will always have a chance, despite their woeful away form, in stark contrast to Lazio's strong performances on home soil. A high-scoring draw therefore looks to be on the horizon.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed