Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 8/13
Seria A is now back in full swing after the three-month break, and as a part of the 28th round of the 2019/20 campaign, Lazio will welcome Fiorentina to the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday evening. Both these clubs were once considered top sides in the Italian top flight, but it has been quite a different story for them in recent years. And while Lazio have to some extent managed to regain a place in the upper part of the table, especially this season, Fiorentina clearly have some way to go.
Arguably the biggest surprise of the season, Lazio have succeeded in overtaking Inter Milan for the second place with 62 points at the moment and, with 11 rounds to go, they are eight points short compared to Juventus at the top. The Nerazzurri remain close, though, with a deficit of another four. Even the title isn’t outside the range for Lazio at the moment, and the Old Lady are certain to be looking over their shoulder, fearing a fresh onset from the sky-blue of Rome.
As for their league form, it’s not easy to judge after only one game being played since the return to action. They were on a great run before the forced break, but that one match they lost by 3-2 away to Atalanta – another pleasant surprise of Italian football. But the string of Lazio’s last six matches reads four wins, preceded by a draw and followed by that one defeat, which incidentally ended a 21-match unbeaten run.
Head coach Simone Inzaghi will be without the services of midfielders Lucas Leiva, Senad Lulic and Luiz Felipe, as well as forward Bobby Adekanye, all through injury. Forward Joaquin Correa and midfielder Danilo Cataldi were both forced off injured in the Atalanta game, and they are now big doubts for the Fiorentina showdown. On the other hand, defender Jordan Lukaku has returned from injury and is in contention to start, while midfielder Marco Parolo and striker Felipe Caicedo might be given a shot as well.
As has been said above, the Viola have a long way to go before they are considered a great team again. At the moment, they sit in 13th place, and they are much closer to the danger zone below than the European places above. They have 31 points to their name, only six more than Lecce in 18th. Torino (also 31), Udinese (28), Sampdoria (26) and Genoa (25) are squeezed in between. It’s fair to say Fiorentina aren’t really in danger right now, but if they don’t pick up their act, they could be soon.
The Viola’s only post-break match so far saw them draw 1-1 away to Brescia, as did the previous two before the break. Of the last six league games, they managed to book a single win, two defeats, and the three draws mentioned.
Head coach Giuseppe Iachini will have to make do without highly rated winger Federico Chiesa, as well as defender Martin Caceres, both of whom are suspended for this match. He also won’t have Christian Kouame at his disposal, with the 22-year-old forward sidelined through injury for a long time.
Fiorentina points, and as many they can get between now and the end of the season to avoid joining the teams below in a fierce relegation battle, but Lazio’s need right now seems the greater; not to mention the quality of the team. The table standings are no fluke at this stage of the season, and it’s hard to believe the visitors will stand a chance of returning from the capital with anything in their pockets.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 8/13
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