Saturday Oct 31, 2020  
  02/11/2011: Europa League Preview: Lazio - FC Zurich
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Place: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
Time: 19.00 CET

So far the group has been a very one sided story with Sporting Lisbon more or less having secured their advancement after three games, while the other teams have struggled. All three joining each other with two points in three games, the home clash against the Swiss will show decisive once the final round is over. If Lazio want to live on, a win here is essential.

The games are piling up and many players are suffering from this. Apart from the usual absences due to injury at this point of the season: Mauri, Matuzalem, Gonzalez and Biava, also Klose, Konko and Ledesma are expexted to be rested due to the hectic program. Also in earlier rounds of the Europe League many of the frequent starters have been rested and it the criticism of not taking the competition seriously enough has been wide spread.

FC Zurich are still doing poorly in their domestic competition and are still behind in the league standings. In the first game between the two sides Zurich got away with a lucky draw as Lazio could not find the back of the net on the scoring occasions created. The normally second choice in goal, Italian Andrea Guatelli, had the game of his career where he parried shot after shot. The few chances created in attack where more or less all set up by Swedsih playmaker Dusan Djuric, and if Lazio want to get away from this clash with all three points the two mentioned players are the once that has to be neutralized.

Lazio are in a great form and are undefeated since the second round in the league and the second round in the Europa League. An impressive run of games without losses from one point of view, but in regard to home games the numbers are not as impressive. So far only one win in front of the home crowd and the worries are imminent that Lazio will again struggle to break a team that decide to defend with a deep back line and with no major intention to hold the ball. In the only loss at home so far, against Genoa in the third round, the visitors played this game to the greatest and ever since every team who has entered Olimpico have been happy travelling home with one point, choosing to defend rather than to attack. The away game to the Swiss ended in a draw, and the fear is that another draw will be the outcome of tomorrow’s game.

The hardships of not being able to get away with wins at home is the main concern for coach Reja, who has managed to steer his team to joint second spot in the league and who openly declared a place in the final is the aim on the international stage too. For the encounter on Thursday evening he also has to figure out how to balance the team with a number of reserves being used. The preferred 4-3-1-2 is the formation that will be employed again, but which eleven players will be running out on the field we have to wait and see as the reports are many and varied. Amongst the more interesting comments regarding which players will be chosen for the game, fan favourite Rocchi, who got his 100th goal against Cagliari last Sunday will play and the fans attending the game will be able to show their gratitude as the Lazio legend. Also Lorik Cana is expected to start, and the Albanian should be eager to impress after a poor start to his Lazio career.

Possible line-ups:

Lazio: Marchetti, Scaloni, Diakite, Dias, Radu, Cana, Ledesma, Lulic, Hernanes, Cisse, Rocchi.

FC Zurich: Guatelli, Philippe Koch, Béda, Teixeira, Magnin, Nikci, Margairaz, Aegerter, Djuric , Chikhaoui, Alphonse.

(Khashayar Kashefi)

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