A delicious showdown between Lazio and Milan at the Stadio Olimpico will serve to lower the curtain on Sunday’s Serie A action. Both sides go into the process desperately needing points, albeit for different reasons.
Europa League hopefuls Lazio go into this clash two points adrift of fifth-placed Roma, meaning a win would see them overtake their bitter city rivals. Despite a turbulent domestic season, Maurizio Sarri’s side were able to hold their own with fans by qualifying for Europe’s second-tier competition.
Inter’s impressive 3-1 win over Roma pushed Simone Inzaghi’s man Milan to the top of the Serie A table. However, the Rossoneri would regain control at the summit with a victory in Rome. Stefano Pioli’s side will try to prove the squad a morally crushing 3-0 defeat Nerazzurri During the week, the Coppa Italia action was just a coincidence.
A stunning 1-1 draw with midfielder Torino last time out knocked Lazio out of a two-game Serie A winning streak. Lazio’s defensive woes have meant they have gone four straight league games without conceding since beating relegation-threatened Venezia 1-0 at home in mid-March.
On a positive note, Sarri’s men have been unbeaten in their last eight Serie A games at the Stadio Olimpico (4 wins, 4 wins) and have scored 3+ goals in 50% of those games. Much of the credit for Lazio’s prolific home form goes to talismanic striker Ciro Immobile, who has scored seven goals in his 14 Serie A games against Milan.
Immobile alone could prove insufficient as Lazio hope to avenge a disheartening 2-0 first-leg defeat. Easier said than done, however, because the Biancocelesti succumbed to an embarrassing 4-0 win in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals in early 2022.
Milan will take to the field in high spirits despite the aforementioned Inter humiliation. Pioli’s men are unbeaten in their last 11 Serie A games (W6 L5), the longest streak of its kind in the competition after Roma’s defeat at Giuseppe Meazza.
Defensively robust, the Rossoneri has kept clean sheets in their last six Serie A games, the best run of its kind in Italy’s top flight since 1994. In fact, Milan have conceded just seven goals in their 14 Serie A games in 2022. Only in the top five leagues in Europe Liverpool (six) have conceded fewer league goals than Pioli’s team this calendar year.
After a resounding victory in the second leg, Milan could complete their first Serie A double against Lazio since 2008/09. Away goals have been difficult to come by for the visitors lately, however, as they have scored under 1.5 goals in their last three league games on hostile pitches.
Thomas Strakosha, Marius Adamonis, Stefan Radu, Danilo Cataldi and Raul Moro are all struggling with fever and gastrointestinal problems and are likely to miss Sunday’s clash. Pedro is still recovering from an injury which means Lazio will face Milan in a severely weakened position.
On the traveling side, Alessandro Florenzi, Samu Castillejo and Simon Kjaer remain injured. But Ante Rebic is fully fit again, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic could come on the bench after completing a training session with the rest of the squad on Friday.
Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli, heavily linked with a summer move to Lazio, should be on the bench.
Lazio potential starting XI (4-3-3): Pepe Reina; Adam Marusic, Francesco Acerbi, Luiz Felipe, Lazzari; Luis Alberto, Lucas Leiva, Sergei Milinkovic-Savic; Mattia Zaccagni, Ciro Immobile, and Felipe Anderson.
Possible AC Milan starting XI (4-2-3-1): Mike Maignan; Davide Calabria, Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Sandro Tonali, Ismael Bennacer; Junior Messiah, Franck Kessie, Rafael Leao; Oliver Giroud.