Lazio vs Internazionale: Serie A prediction and preview
The tight Serie A title race heats up even more tonight as third-placed Lazio take on league leaders Internazionale at the Stadio Olimpico.
Lazio trail Inter and second-placed Juventus by a point. With the Bianconeri hosting minnows Brescia today, the clash at the Stadio Olimpico becomes even more important for both sides.
Lazio’s last five games have resulted in three wins and two draws. The wins were over Sampdoria, SPAL and Parma. Verona and city-rivals Roma played le Aquile to stalemates. In the Serie A, the Rome-based club has won 13 of its last 15 matches.
Inter is coming in hot after its emphatic 4-2 win in the Derby della Madonnina. It was Inter’s second successive Serie A win, following a run of three draws. Antonio Conte’s men have also been victorious in nine of their last 11 away games in the Serie A.
Simone Inzaghi’s side will be boosted by the returns of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Stefan Radu. Both players have served their suspension and are likely to start this all-important fixture. Senad Lulic, however, will be out of action for a couple of weeks.
In-form attacker Lautaro Martinez returns after serving his suspension and will be slotting in next to Romelu Lukaku up front. Club captain Samir Handanovic, however, is still not fully fit which means Daniele Padelli will continue between the sticks.
Francesco Acerbi vs Romelu Lukaku
What a turn around this season has been for Lukaku.
From being a scapegoat at Old Trafford to a bonafide superstar with the Nerazzurri, the Belgian is thriving in Conte’s system.
Lazio’s backline, led by Francesco Acerbi, can be the Belgian’s kryptonite. The Italian defender’s no-nonsense defending and aerial supremacy are bound to limit Lukaku’s goalscoring ambitions.
Still, the double punch of Lukaku and Martinez will be a threat for Acerbi and co. When you’re up against Inter, if Lukaku doesn’t get you, Lautaro will.
Ciro Immobile vs Daniele Padelli
At the opposite end, we have the Serie A’s top goalscorer up against a reserve goalkeeper.
Ciro Immobile has been on fire this season, banging in 25 goals in 23 games. Unsurprisingly, he’s leading the capocannoniere charts as well as the European Golden Boot race.
For Inter fans, the worrying aspect will be Padelli’s form. The goalkeeper is error-prone as seen in the 4-2 win over AC Milan as well as the 0-1 loss to Napoli in the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg.
Italy’s most prolific forward up against an underconfident keeper. It doesn’t take much to guess that Immobile will be yearning for one-on-one opportunities against Padelli.
Lucas Leiva vs Marcelo Brozovic
In a game between two defensively sound teams, the midfield battle will be the deciding factor.
Lazio’s defensive midfield general Lucas Leiva will have his hands full in limiting Marcelo Brozovic’s versatility.
The Croat is a strong passer with a tendency to thread killer balls that lead to goals. In addition to that, he can pop up with a goal or two – case in point being his stunner against Milan last week.
Leiva’s awareness and industry will be a strong counter to the swiss-knife that Brozovic is. Inzaghi will be hoping that the former Liverpool man can contain the Croat.
Do not expect this game to be a goal-fest as both sides boast of the stingiest defenses in the Serie A. Lazio and Inter have conceded 20 goals so far, joint-least in the 2019-2020 Serie A.
Historically, Stadio Olimpico has been a good hunting ground for the Nerazzurri. Inter have emerged victorious in their last three games (in all competitions) against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico.
Lazio’s strong form, however, cannot also be ignored. Despite not having a squad brimming with talent like that of Juventus, the Roman side is proving to be a tough contender. The stakes of this match will further motivate Inzaghi’s men.
Keeping all of this in mind, I expect Internazionale to eke out a hard-fought win over le Aquile.
Predicted score-line: Lazio 1-2 Internazionale