Ahead of the game of the season, the home derby, Lazio host Panathinaikos in the Europa League. A fortnight ago the two teams fought an unspectacular draw in Athens, a result that opened up the group in the sense that all teams are now within three points of each other. Lazio stand on five points, Maribor on four, Tottenham on three and Panathinaikos struggle at the bottom with two draws to their name.
All the talk about rotating the players, something Petkovic has been reluctant to do up until now, seems to have reached the tactician. Ahead of the home game against the Greeks the indications from Formello are that a 4-4-2 formation will be used and that a number of the so far scarcely played individuals will be fielded.
For the visitors, who started the Europa League with a disappointing loss to Maribor and Slovenia, the two draws against Tottenham and Lazio have given the team confidence that they can challenge for a place in the knock-out stages of the tournament. Comments emerging from Athens indicate that the team entered the pitch against the Biancocelesti with too much respect, something that cost them the chance to win the game as they were already down 1-0 before realising the Italians were match-able.
Marchetti is expected to return from his injury for the Thursday fixture, something indicating that Petkovic will be hoping to use him also in the Derby. The back four will be completely new, where Cana and Ciani will for the lock in the middle, and Scaloni and Radu occupying right and left. The Romanian is expected to start his first game this season. The midfield will see mostly known faces, while the attacking dup seem to be consisting of Kozak and Floccari. Worth noting for the interested in the Zarate saga is that the attacker is back in the squad, but not expected to be given too much time on the pitch after recent exclusions. Or he will start. No one seems to know the status of the player and veteran Scaloni said it the best in a press conference today: “Enough of the talk about Zarate”.
Lazio: Marchetti, Scaloni, Ciani, Cana, Radu, Ledesma, Onazi, Gonzalez, Mauri, Floccari, Kozak.
Panathinaikos: Karnezis; Seitaridis, Velazquez, Houhoumis, Spyropoulos; Fourlanos, Vitolo, Zeca; Mavrias, Toché, Abeyie.