Genoa will look to cement their grip on fourth place as they host a buoyant Lazio at the Marassi.
Genoa Gripping On To Fourth
Following their impressive victory over Juventus last weekend, confidence couldn’t be higher in the Genoa camp as they continue to prove they are well worthy of fourth place in the standings. With just seven rounds left to play the Grifoni are on the verge of making history, as they look to qualify for the Champions League leaving Fiorentina and Roma both out in the cold.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s men have undoubtedly been the revelation of the campaign with a free-flowing attacking football that has proved a handful for almost every other side to contain. Coupled with the Grifoni’s style is their ability to grind out results, even on the off days when the team is performing below standard. Most impressive however is Genoa’s ability to keep coming back in games when it appears the scoreline has left the game beyond them.
In last weekend's triumph over the Bianconeri, the Grifoni proved that they have a huge strength of character that should set them up well for the future. This is testament to Gasperini’s man management, and the former Juve youth coach could soon be hot property should his Rossoblu make the grade next season amongst Europe’s elite. A win on Saturday would leave Genoa another step closer to the season finale.
Biancocelesti Back With A Bang
After a negative run of three consecutive defeats, Lazio came back with a bang as they ran out worthy 4-2 winners in the 132nd Derby della Capitale last Saturday. With the derby victory under their belts the mood in the Biancocelesti camp is now sky high and many are hoping that their moral boosting victory could spur them on to a sprint finish for the rest of the campaign.
With arguably their most important encounter of the season coming just four days after the clash with Genoa, many will be expecting Delio Rossi’s men to have one eye on the Coppa Italia as they make the trip north. However, with arch-rivals Roma just five points ahead in the standings, the Lazio coach will demand his players give their all on Saturday as they look to finish a rather unsatisfactory campaign on a positive note.
If the Biancocelesti can take to the field with the same intensity they displayed during the derby, then they are a match for any side in the league. With many key players still looking to seal contract renewals in the summer, the team still has work to do if it is to win back the faith of club patron Claudio Lotito. Should the Aquile manage to achieve an impressive away victory at the Marassi on Saturday, this will not only go along way in restoring Lotito’s confidence, but would provide perfect preparation for Juventus next week.
11 April: Genoa 3-2 Juventus
5 April: Reggina 0-1 Genoa
22 March: Genoa 2-0 Udinese
15 March: Cagliari 0-1 Genoa
8 March: Genoa 0-2 Inter
11 April: Lazio 4-2 Roma
5 April: Siena 2-0 Lazio
21 March: Catania 1-0 Lazio
15 March: Lazio 0-3 Chievo
8 March: Napoli 0-2 Lazio
Gian Piero Gasperini has no fresh selection worries ahead of Saturday’s encounter. Diego Milito is still out injured and the Genoa coach will put his trust in Ruben Olivera to fill the void alongside Sculli and Palladino.
Probable Starting XI (3-4-3): Rubinho; Biava, Ferrari, Bocchetti; M.Rossi, T.Motta, Juric, Criscito; Sculli, Olivera, Palladino
Delio Rossi looks set to confirm the backbone used in last weekend’s derby victory against Roma. In view of the crunch return semi-final with Juventus next week, the Lazio coach is set to rest Sebastiano Siviglia and Aleksander Kolarov. Cristian Brocchi and Francelino Matuzalem are both suspended following their involvement in last week’s derby fracas.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Muslera, De Silvestri, Diakite, Rozehnal, Radu; Lichtsteiner, Ledesma, Dabo, Foggia; Pandev, Zarate
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Domenico Criscito has been somewhat of an unsung hero for Genoa this season. Currently the most regular player in the whole Genoa squad in terms of minutes played, he has demonstrated why he is considered such a hot prospect for the future. With an impressive performance last weekend against his current owners Juventus, the young Italian is making many in Turin wonder why he was loaned out in the first place.
Following his debut goal in the derby last weekend, Stephan Lichtsteiner has cemented his place in Lazio folklore among the likes of Pavel Nedved, Giuseppe Signori, Paolo Di Canio, and Valon Behrami. The Swiss full-back, nicknamed ‘Forrest Gump’ for his constant running down the flank, has been a surprise package this season following his summer move from Lille. Lichtsteiner has also proved versatile this season and is set to demonstrate his midfield capabilities when he fills in on the wing against Genoa.
With both sides in high spirits following last weekend successes it could prove to be a highly entertaining encounter between two free-flowing sides. Genoa will be wary of Lazio’s attacking threat but given the Rossoblu’s home form this season it is hard to see past another home victory.
As Lazio look ahead towards their semi-final return against Juventus next week they will do well to focus on Genoa. Delio Rossi’s men must avoid defeat to keep their positive moral going, in the build up to their game of the season.
Genoa 2-1 Lazio
Stefano Federici, Goal.com