Jumat, 01 Mei 2009

Serie A Preview: Inter - Lazio

After seeing Milan creep slightly closer to them last weekend, Serie A leaders Inter will be eager to get back to winning ways after three winless games, against a traditionally tricky opponent...

Kick-off: Saturday, May 2, 2009, 20:30 (CET)
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan

Inter Starting To Feel Slight Pressure?

After last weekend’s unexpected defeat to Napoli, who won their first match in over three months, Inter saw their new closest challengers Milan move to within seven points of them, a much smaller distance than what they had become used to in recent weeks. However, considering the Serie A calendar of the last five matches of the season, there is no reason to believe the Rossoneri have a practical chance of snatching the Scudetto away from Jose Mourinho’s side.

Milan are facing Roma, Juventus, Udinese and Fiorentina in the final run-in, while Inter play the likes of Chievo, Siena, and Atalanta, who don’t have serious objectives to fight for any more (although the Gialloblu aren’t quite sure of avoiding relegation yet). But aside from that, the Nerazzurri haven’t been doing as badly as some people claimed, with the exception of last week’s match against Napoli, in which they looked like they just wanted to bring home a scoreless draw, and were subsequently unable to change their attitude after Marcelo Zalayeta’s late goal.

They looked good in the recent league matches against Palermo and Juventus, which they would have deserved to win, but gave away a lead twice due to over-confidence and a lack of concentration. With a bit more luck they could also have turned around the recent Coppa Italia semi-final tie against Sampdoria, in which they had to come back from a 3-0 deficit from the first leg, and won 1-0 after missing a number of good chances.

With the Rossoneri now slightly closer to them, they will probably be able to rediscover the right concentration and determination in the home match against Lazio, which on paper is probably the most difficult fixture awaiting them in this final part of the season. Milan have an easier match away to a Catania side who have already secured their Serie A survival, so the Nerazzurri know they need a win in this one to avoid experiencing another nervy finale like last season.

Lazio Looking To Frustrate Inter

Lazio have traditionally always been a bogey team for Inter, with the most famous instance of this being the match on 5 May 2002, when the Nerazzurri lost 4-2 away to the Biancocelesti on the final matchday of the season, gifting Juventus a Scudetto that seemed already in the bag. However, in recent years Inter have had fewer problems with Lazio, who have managed just one draw in their last five matches against the champions.

Earlier this season Lazio met Jose Mourinho’s side when they were at their best, and the Biancocelesti were beaten 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. For Delio Rossi’s squad it’s been another inconsistent season, which has been somewhat compensated by their reaching the Coppa Italia final against Sampdoria, due to take place in their own stadium. That final also represents probably their best chance of playing European football next season, as the Coppa Italia winner will take part in the Europa League, the new incarnation of the UEFA Cup.

In the table they are ninth with 47 points, five fewer than city rivals Roma, who are currently in sixth place, which is the lowest position in the Serie A table that guarantees European football. Lazio are not a worse team than some of the clubs preceding them in the table at the moment, but they have been unable to maintain a consistent level of performance.

Recently they managed to get three prestigious consecutive victories against Roma, Genoa, and Juventus in the Coppa Italia, but then went on to play a dismal match at home against Atalanta last weekend and lost 1-0. That alone goes to show how unpredictable they are, although Inter would probably do well to expect the Lazio side that beat Juventus and Roma rather than the one seen last week against Atalanta.



26/04 (Serie A): Napoli-Inter 1-0
23/04 (Coppa Italia): Inter-Sampdoria 1-0
18/04 (Serie A): Juventus-Inter 1-1
11/04 (Serie A): Inter-Palermo 2-2
05/04 (Serie A): Udinese-Inter 0-1


26/04 (Serie A): Lazio-Atalanta 0-1
22/04 (Coppa Italia): Juventus-Lazio 1-2
18/04 (Serie A): Genoa-Lazio 0-1
11/04 (Serie A): Lazio-Roma 4-2
05/04 (Serie A): Siena-Lazio 2-0



There are some important absences for Inter as Dejan Stankovic and Mario Balotelli are both suspended, while Maicon, Nelson Rivas, and Hernan Crespo are out injured.

Possible formation (4-3-1-2): Julio Cesar; Santon, Cordoba, Samuel, Chivu; Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari; Figo; Ibrahimovic, Cruz.


Simone Inzaghi, Stefano Mauri, Goran Pandev, Mobido Diakite and Ousmane Dabo are all out injured.

Possible formation (4-4-2): Muslera; Lichtsteiner, Siviglia, Rozenhal, Kolarov; Brocchi, Ledesma, Matuzalem, Foggia; Zarate, Rocchi.


Julio Cruz (Inter)

With Balotelli out suspended, this could be one of Cruz’s last starts as an Inter player. The 34-year-old striker is set to leave the club this summer after six years of faithful service, during which he has often proven decisive, scoring a respectable 49 league goals. He will be hoping to find a suitable way to end his stint at the Nerazzurri, after a season in which he has rarely had the chance to show his worth. Nevertheless, his only two goals this season won the games against Lecce and Udinese, showing once again that he has decisive goals in his DNA, which is why he is such a popular player among fans.

Mauro Zarate (Lazio)

The Argentinean starlet made an explosive impact on Serie A in his first season at Lazio, scoring an impressive 12 goals and showing immense talent and skill. Zarate quickly managed to work his way into Lazio’s first choice eleven, disrupting a previously highly prolific attack partnership composed of Tommaso Rocchi, who has spent much of the season on the bench as a result, and Goran Pandev. Recently he also signed a five-year contract with the Biancocelesti, as he had only joined them on loan from Qatar club Al Sadd.


Inter should be able to get back to winning ways, after three matches, against a less motivated Lazio side.

Inter-Lazio 2-1

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