Saturday Jan 23, 2021  
  22/02/2012: Preview Europa League: Atletico Madrid - Lazio
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Tomorrow evening Lazio will travel to Madrid in order to try to come back from a devastating 3-1 loss at home a week ago. The discussion whether the game should be taken seriously with the strongest possible team being fielded, or Lazio seeing this game as already lost and focus on the domestic season, is what has been mostly debated recently – showing one side of the problems that Reja is facing ahead of the game.

Another well debated aspect has, again, been the many injuries Lazio have suffered from during the season. The many absences have been used in order to explain the recent defeats, with Palermo trashing Lazio 5-1 and Atletico Madrid securing a 3-1 win at Olimpico as the most recent examples. Lazio do have problems fielding eleven fit and ready players week in and week out, and after the most recent game the prolific striker Klose was also added to the list of injured players. Together with the frequent red and yellow cards the Lazio players have picked up in the last few league games, this will very much decide what players will be fielded tomorrow evening. The many Primavera players included in the roster for the game signals the lack of quality options in the senior squad, and added to that players like Garrido, Scaloni and Alfaro were all left out when the list of players was reported to UEFA ahead of the Europa League knock-out phase. Right back Konko was ruled out of this clash due to a minor injury today, so despite Reja wishing to rest players so that they can recover fully ahead of the league game to Fiorentina on Sunday he might be forced to field semi-injured players tomorrow evening.

Atletico Madrid showed a lot more ready than Lazio last week, and during the 90 minutes – and despite Lazio taking the lead – there was not much to be debated over which team was better and deserved to win. Madrid got a result that will give them a pleasant time ahead of the return leg and despite the tie not being decided yet, most of the comments coming from the Spanish capital surround the good result achieved in Rome. The Lazio legend Diego Simeone, current coach of the Madrid side, was given an emotional welcoming by the Lazio fans but manifested his goal with Europa League by fielding a team a lot better prepared and ready than Lazio. The return will be a mere formality many think, and despite Simeone stressing that nothing is decided until the end of tomorrow’s game, not much hope that a team with as few goals as Atletico have conceded since the entrance of Simeone will fall apart against a struggling Lazio. Playmaker Diego will be missing the game, a serious loss of quality for Atletico Madrid, but with important pieces such as Falcao, Arda Turan, Juanfran and Courtois ready for the game, the Spaniards have enough quality to pass on to the next round.

Possible lineups:
Atletico Madrid: Courtois, Juanfran, Miranda, Diego Godin, Kasmirski, Mario Suarez, Gabi, Adrian, Arda Turan, Koke, Falcao.

Lazio: Marchetti, Stankevicius, Diakite, Dias, Zauri, Ledesma, Matuzalem, Candreva, Hernanes, Lulic, Kozak.

(Khashayar Kashefi)

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