Saturday Mar 25, 2017  
     
 
  17/10/2015: Preview: Sassuolo - Lazio
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Lazio head to the Stadio Enzo Ricci on Sunday and will face a tough challenge away against Sassuolo. Lazio finished up strong before the international break with a 2-0 win over Frosinone, Sassuolo were not as successful in the last Serie A match and fell 1-0 to Empoli. Sassuolo still sit in a strong position in the Serie A table on 12 points, with three wins, three draws and one loss, they play tough every weekend and challenge their opponents to beat them with tactical efficiency and individual brilliance. Lazio currently sit in third on 15 points but have been thrashed twice and have arguably not beaten a quality opponent, in fact, Lazio have yet to face Inter, Roma, Fiorentina, Milan or Juventus, this puts their standing in the table into perspective. This will be the first of a tough string of matches for Lazio, as they will play seven games in the span of 21 days before the next international break, the last being the Rome Derby.

Lazio will once again enter this match with injury concerns but will also face the potential arrival of key players who have fully recovered from injury. Parolo and Biglia unfortunately picked up injuries while on International duty for both Italy and Argentina respectively so will be unavailable. Biglia’s absence may be shorter and in the 2-3 week range while Parolo may face a lengthier lay off but is targeting the derby for his return. De Vrij will once again not be available, he is responding well to treatment on his left knee, if this continues he may avoid yet another surgery, time will tell on his recovery but we might need to accept that he may not play a major role in the Lazio defense this season, or at least not have the impact he did in his maiden campaign last time out. Up front in attack for Lazio, both Matri and Klose should be available to Pioli, Klose has been absent for some time so he may be gradually worked back into match play.

Marchetti should get the start in the Lazio goal this weekend provided his bruising and cuts have healed from the last time out. He may be called upon to make a few quality stops; he should look to have his squad more organized on set pieces. In front of him in the middle of the park it should be Mauricio and Gentiletti, hopefully both can stay fit and disciplined as they look to be the glue in the middle for the foreseeable future, Hoedt may earn some time but likely in the Europa League fixtures, the double against Rosenborg is quickly on the horizon, if Mauricio is not recovered from his broken nose Hoedt may go on Sunday. On the left and right hand sides of defense it should be Lulic and Basta. Konko subbed on for Basta due to injury against Frosinone and if Basta is still unavailable Konko should pick up the start; the defensive flanks need to be dynamic for Lazio and cause problems for Sassuolo. It is unsure if Lulic or Radu will feature at left back but tip your hat to Lulic, especially given that he has yet to sign an extension, his market value will need to be exploited to maximize the profit of any potential sale in the January mercato.

In midfield for Lazio, Pioli should still field his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation despite not having Biglia and Parolo available, Lazio look out of sorts an unorganized in a 4-3-3, both defensively and in attack. The time is now for both Cataldi and Onazi to shine, why not give them both starting births in the two deeper midfield roles. In the three more attacking midfielder roles we should see both Candreva and Anderson on the flanks, Candreva played well for the Azzurri over the break and Pioli will look to him to continue his form. In between them, in the playmaker role behind the center forward we should see Savic start for Lazio, Mauri is questionable but if he is deemed fit he may feature in this match. Up front, in the lone attacking striker role we should see Keita start, he deserves this based on his performance in the last match against Frosinone, he wreaked havoc on the Frosinone defense from the moment he entered the field. Matri and Klose may also feature in this match; Djordjevic is once again questionable due to injury. This is a telling time for Lazio, a time that will reveal precisely what the squad is made of, not only from a talent perspective, but from a solidified mindset perspective and as a squad who is tactically aware and in unison. Lazio need to end their troubles away from the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and start picking up the full three points in opponents’ stadiums. The time is now for Lazio to show the rest of Serie A that they are for real and that they intend to keep pace for a European position next season. Lazio must simply overcome adversity yet again.

Forza Lazio!
Author: Michael Petricca
 
 
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