In the first of two games against Milan in less than one week Lazio travel to San Siro in order to advance to the semi-finals of Coppa Italia. For the winner of the clash Juventus is awaiting, after having beaten Roma on Tuesday.
Mysteriously enough the quarter final was moved from Rome to Milano, forcing the capital club to travel back to the northern city only days after having faced Inter in the league. Both teams are still challenging in the respective European competitions and one question that has risen in the preparations of this is whether the coaches are to prioritise the cup game or the coming league round; added to the fact that the two teams face each other in Serie A in a week from today. The two teams kicked off the current season in an intriguing battle back in September, a game that ended in a 2-2 draw and with new arrivals Klose and Cisse getting one goal each.
In the cup Lazio come from a narrow 3-2 win against Serie B side Hellas Verona, while Milan managed to overcome fellow Serie A side Novara in extra time last week. As is understandable when in a period of time with such a hectic schedule at hand both coaches chose the midweek fixtures to rest some players, while other players got the chance to show their worth or get back in form. This time around Allegri has communicated through media that a couple of the usually most influential players will not even be on the bench as rest is needed, and Milan is therefore expected to field a team far less experienced and weaker in quality than what Lazio could expect in a week and when the Rossoneri visit Stadio Olimpico. Ibrahimovic is ruled out with the explanation that he is “not a robot” as are Van Bommel and Abbiati. On the other hand, Inzaghi, Mexes and El Shaarawy will all most likely be given starts.
Lazio also look to rest some key players, while some much needed time on the pitch will be given to others. Klose, who has played 90 minutes in more or less all games this season, will be rested and Cisse, who has yet to convince the Biancocelesti supporters he hold the qualities he was brought in during the summer for, will be given another chance to shine. One interesting aspect of the latter’s below par performances in the Lazio shirt is that it was in the premier game and at San Siro his first, and only, goal in his new team came. For some weeks Cisse has been underlining he wants to stay and fight for a shirt in Lazio and that he needs time on the pitch if ever to get back to scoring, but despite getting to start against Hellas Verona a fortnight ago Cisse never looked close to getting that valuable goal. The self esteem as well as capability of finding the back of the net seems all but gone for the French forward and rumours are pairing him with a sudden exit before the end of the mercato. Else, Reja has called up more defenders than midfielders and attackers combined for the travel to Milano – a sign of what kind of approach is to be expected by the Romans. Latest reports indicate a back line consisting of three and a midfield of five players with three defensively minded pieces being utilised in order to rely on counter attacks and the pace of the Black Lion.
Worth noting is that the game is a one-legged quarter final and that extra time and possibly penalties will be needed in order to determine which of the two teams will be facing Juventus in what would in that case be a two-legged encounter.
Milan: Amelia, Bonera, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Antonini, Merkel, Ambrosini, Nocerino, Emanuelson, Inzaghi, El Shaarawy.
Lazio: Bizzarri, Diakite, Stankevicius, Dias, Konko, Gonzalez, Matuzalem, Lulic, Hernanes, Rocchi, Cisse.