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Lazio v Milan Match Preview and Scouting

Following the massive news about Juventus, the collision between Lazio and Milan could go a long way in establishing a new hierarchy at the top.

Serie A Week 19 Monday 23 January 2023 – Stadio Olimpico | Preview by Enrico Passarella


The jury is still out on whether Lazio are really cut out for the top of the table, and the opinions diverge even in their midst. They are obviously right there, and Juventus being out of the picture offers a massive opportunity to many sides, but it has taken them a while to get going after the World Cup break. They have high-end talent, but they are arguably the thinnest competitor roster-wise. A pair of key injuries could derail them for good. This game will be very indicative in this regard.

They have been seesawing but already have some strong results under their belt. They have topped Inter, actually crushing them, but it was early in the season, and Roma but also lost badly to the Old Lady in a baffling display in early November. Their stocks dipped with that faux-pas, the defeat against Lecce, and the draw with Empoli, where they gave away a two-nil lead in the final minutes. They got back on track and looked good versus Sassuolo, although the opponents were in terrible shape.

Ciro Immobile suffered another injury, and while hurtful, it’s not as big of a deal as it would have been at the start of the season. Felipe Anderson has gotten plenty of reps as a false-nine. Not giving reference points to a defense that has been very poor lately might work out well for them. In addition, their top scorer has been prolific but not at the insane rates of previous campaigns. They can make up for his production for a few matches, especially because their defense is generally stingy. They should have already found a legitimate deputy since he started to break down last season, he’s 32 after all, but they are fine as long as Pedro and Matteo Zaccagni are healthy too.

The ex-Verona winger has taken a further leap in the final third, easily becoming their second-best weapon. He has lethal timing in his cuts from the flank, and one thing they have never lacked in are players that can tread the needle with through passes. He’s been good and somewhat underrated for a long time, but he wasn’t as slick in this skill beforehand. He and Immobile routinely make complementary movements, which puts a lot of stress on opposing defenses that have to be constantly be on their toes. In their standard configuration, Felipe Anderson or Pedro are masterful in picking the spots left open, as their trident is fluid and mobile. The MO is different with a false nine, but the Brazilian is clutch enough in the box.

Luis Alberto is back in the good graces of Maurizio Sarri, and that has prompted them to field their best possible midfield, which features Danilo Cataldi, whose growth as a safety blanket and passer has been remarkable despite never being particularly touted, and obviously Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who’s the gift that keeps on giving even though he has been a little banged up coming off the World Cup. This year, most likely by design, he’s attacking deep less and focusing more on setting up teammates. He’s already up to eight assists, and he might get to twenty if he turns it up a slight notch, which would be a mind-blowing tally. He has to defend more when the Spaniard is in the lineup, but he’s fine with that and quite effective with his big frame. It’s worth the sacrifice since the teammate is mercurial and inconsistent, but when he’s on, he gives them another dimension in terms of creativity and unpredictability, and he busts his tail too.

Sarri mainly draws praise for his fast-paced and quick-passing offense, although it hasn’t reached peak levels in the Italian capital, but one of the signature traits of his style is the solidity in the back. They still sometimes wobble when hit hard and tii often, and they aren’t elite talent-wise in that area, but they have conceded the third least amount of goals in the League, which is something. Having a lot of possession naturally allows them to face fewer threats, but the reliability and growth as a unit of the core of their rearguard, Ivan Provedel, Alessio Romagnoli, and Nicolò Casale, shouldn’t go unnoticed.

They had a two-month stretch where they were on fire and beat up of multiple minnows, which has been the bedrock of their success for years, and even bested Atalanta. But that went away right before and after the stoppage. Their short-term schedule is littered with difficult clashes, and a victory here would do wonders momentum-wise.

Expected XI (4-3-3):  Provedel; Lazzari, Casale, Romagnoli, Marusic; Milinkovic-Savic, Cataldi, Alberto; Pedro, Felipe Anderson, Zaccagni. 


Lazio v Milan



The Milan spiral started in the final minutes of the Roma game when they gave up two goals on set pieces, and they haven’t been able to recover afterward. All the issues came to a head in the Supercoppa against Inter, where they were manhandled in a fashion they hadn’t experienced in years. The honeymoon following the title has worn off, and defects they had managed to hide through their enthusiasm, resiliency, and sound mentality reared their ugly heads. They have hit rock bottom in Riyadh , elatively speaking, and it’s now put up or shut time because their lead over other teams that have started marching isn’t that wide.

Despite the constant state of emergency due to several injuries, they should have it in them to fare much better than in recent fixtures. The turnaround has to start in the back, where either Fikayo Tomori begins playing better or the coach has to sit him for a match or two while he’s 100 percent physically. He’s been a distant relative of his last season’s self. The same goes for Theo Hernandez, who has been seemingly drained from the World Cup and hasn’t been able to stomp his authority in any of the matches afterward, actually being a liability in some instances. That’s where they pay the price for their woeful summer window, which was supposed to make their squad deeper; instead, they don’t have worthy alternatives to their starters, whom they are running into the ground. The Frenchman will reportedly miss the game due to muscle fatigue and, even though he hasn’t been great lately, that’s still a big blow because Sergino Dest has been really uneven and especially unreliable defensively.

The return of Simon Kjaer didn’t lead to immediate improvements, but that’s a first step, as the usually rock-solid Pierre Kalulu got flustered too versus Lecce. Davide Calabria scored there, but he’s not yet entirely back after months on the mend. Ante Rebic and Divock Origi logged some minutes versus Inter, and having them even for brief cameos will be helpful. The Croat isn’t new to having incinerating finishes to a season after being dormant and hurt for a long time. They need his energy and hustle. They are recuperating pieces, and they’ll need them in acceptable conditions when Champions League comes around, and the schedule gets crowded again.

Rafael Leao is great and often comes through even when he’s triple-teamed by the opponents, but one of the products of their transfer market blunders is that the offense is too centered around him, and he always has to go the extra mile to score. Brahim Diaz is pretty good, but he’s more prone to quick sprints and passes rather than holding the ball for a while. Olivier Giroud is primarily a finisher. Junior Messias is a little better than Alexis Saelemaekers from a creative standpoint, but he’s not elite either. That is where they could really use Charles De Ketelaere being a hub to divert attention from the star, but there appears to be no end in sight to his struggles and his recent showings have continued to be lackluster. Ismael Bennacer and Sandro Tonali have been fantastic in the final third, but they also have to do a lot on the other end and can’t be asked to be different makers on the regular in that zone too.

It is clearly sink or swim time for the Rossoneri, which are likely headed for a trophy-less season after savoring the sweet taste of triumph last season. Such realization may knock them mentally, but they owe themselves a more compelling title defense even though Napoli have been going like gangbusters.

Expected XI (4-2-3-1):  Tatarusanu; Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Dest; Tonali, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, Diaz, Leao; Giroud. 



Lazio: Immobile (thigh strain). 

Milan: Ibrahimovic (ACL tear), Hernandez (muscle fatigue), Maignan (calf strain), Ballo-Touré (shoulder surgery), Florenzi (thigh tendon tear). 

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