A decider for which team to top the group between Lazio and Trabzonspor is on the hands tonight. With the Turkish side having a two point advantage moving into the game, only a win could guarantee Lazio avoiding any of the top seeded teams in the first round of the knock-out stage.
It has surely been a turbulent season for Lazio and as good as things have unfolded in the Europa League things have been going against the side in the domestic league. Petkovic’s to be or not to be is one thing plaguing the team, the lack of quality players on key positions another, while the recent fan-related unrest stemming from the Polish police still keeping over 20 Lazio supporters in custody since the game against Legia, have all been adding to the unstable situation in and around the team.
Leaving the negative Serie A trend behind, things have been looking decent in the Europa League. Stepping into the last round of the group stage knowing it has already been decided which two teams are to advance from the group gives a certain soothing effect, but the first spot is up for grabs and that is what Lazio must aim for. In hoping to go as far as possible in the competition it would be favourable to avoid any of the top teams in the first knock-out round.
Petkovic is under heavy pressure and for many his faith has already been sealed and Lotito have already decided on shifting coaches. The question does not seem to me if, but when, the change will happen. Latest reports from inside the camp claim Trabzonspor, Livorno and Hellas Verona will be the three teams with Petkovic’s future in their hands.
If Lazio are trailing in the league, Trabzonspor are doing pretty well. Or, were doing very well until a recent slip and now some distance has been created between the top teams and those just after. Sitting currently in seventh position, 12 points behind Fenerbahce at the top and three points away from European qualification, coach Akcay has reasons enough to travel to Rome and hope for at least a draw to have the bragging rights of having topped the group.
In the three games Lazio have played Turkish opposition in Rome all games have ended with a home win, something the Romans will be hoping to build on. It has been over a month since Lazio won in the league, but in Europe the results have been far more positive with both Greek and Polish opposition having left Italy with losses recorded.
Trabzonspor have been firing on all cylinders and are top scorers in the group stages with 13 goals while Lazio have managed eight. Floccari is the top scorer for Lazio with four goals, while joint leader of the Europa League’s top scorers is Olcan Adin who managed a hat-trick on matchday five. Lazio are the better side at the back with a total of four goals conceded, while the Turks have allowed seven. Interesting is to know that three of Lazio’s four goals were allowed against Trabozonspor in Turkey in the opening game that ended 3-3.
Europa League has given Petkovic the chance to play many of the players that at the start of the season were regarded reserves, but that have grown into the first team throughout the campaign. Surely Keita will be looking at building on his European success, while Berisha is seeing his chance to again be given 90 minutes and with the current discussions heating up regarding Marchetti’s future the Albanian international might be seeing a chance of challenging the Italian. Elsewhere, Biava is set for a much needed return while Ederson could be given one of few chances to show his skills and abilities against a less tight defence than what he usually faces in Serie A.
Lazio: Berisha, Cavanda, Biava, Novaretti, Radu, Biglia, Onazi, Anderson, Ederson, Keita, Floccari.
Trabzonspor: Kivrak, Bosingwa, Yumlu, Bamba, Demir, Adin, Ozdemir, Colman, Malouda, Adrian, Henrique