Lazio Club Focus: Win Or Die For The Biancocelesti
Lazio’s final match of the Serie A season was an away trip to Trieste to play Cagliari. It was a chance to build confidence as high as possible approaching Sundays all important showdown with AS Roma.
Being defeated 1-0 by the Sardinian club put an end to a rather topsy-turvy campaign for the Biancocelesti. Flying high in the first half of the season saw Lazio reach up as high as second in the Serie A standings at Christmas time, although 2013 hasn’t been too kind to Vladimir Petkovic and his team.
Reaching the quarter finals of the Europa League, and the final of the Coppa Italia, has meant that Lazio finished in seventh place in the league standings. With Roma sneaking in to finish above Lazio on the final day, Sundays match is an all or nothing encounter for everybody involved at Lazio.
Going into the match, Lazio seemed to have recovered some players of late who were suffering from injuries in the latter part of the season. Miroslav Klose the main talking point, has returned to action and the fans will be glad that the German is back on the field and amongst the goals.
The squad took a retreat to a training camp in Norcia this week. Lazio have used Norcia a few times in recent years in times of trouble and it has been called upon again so the players can focus solely on what is the biggest match of the season.
Petkovic has tried out a 4-1-4-1 formation with Klose as the sole striker, and Ledesma in-between defence and midfield this week, and it looks like this will be the formation implied on Sunday.
There have been doubts over whether Alvaro Gonzalez will be fit for the match, but Eddy Onazi has recovered and is ready to step into his place. Hernanes looks like he will be ready to play, despite whispers that the Brazilian would have to sit the match out.
Lazio have been victorious in three of the last four derbies, and hope that recent success in the encounter will put them in good stance for Sunday. Considering neither Lazio or Roma managed to qualify for the Europa League this year, Sundays match will see the winner qualify to play European football next term, making it even more important.
The last meeting between the sides saw Abdoulay Konko and Antonio Candreva causing problems for Roma on the right side. The importance of Konko’s return, and the recent good form of Antonio Candreva, could be instrumental towards Lazio being successful on Sunday.
The history of this fixture means that passion runs extremely high during these matches, and a red card is a familiar face in a Derby della Capitale, and it usually benefits the team that can keep eleven men on the field of course. Lazio’s discipline this season has been horrendous, so it will be a great achievement for Lazio to keep eleven men on the field for the duration of the match.
Although Lazio and Roma finished the season with just one point separating the pair, The Europa League has meant that Lazio have played twelve more matches than their city rivals this term. The fans just hope that the players can find another 90 minutes in them, to be victorious on the night. It really is ‘win or die’ for either team on Sunday, and it certainly has all of the ingredients to be a classic.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @Lazio_UK