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Siena vs Lazio
Match Date: 18-02-2013
Location: Siena
Stadium Artemio Franchi-Montepaschi Arena
Referee Giannoccaro
Time 20:45 CET
Lazio take on Siena at the Stadio Artemio Franchi only four days after a mammoth effort against Borussia Mönchengladbach in one of the most ridiculous games any human could ever witness.

The concession of three penalties and dodgy preparation on yet another set-piece was balanced out by the vice-Klose's who are on such form at the moment that Miroslav Klose is borderline schizophrenic as he attempts to work out how he can play second fiddle to himself once he returns from injury.

Lazio have suddenly come alive in front of goal. Both Sergio Floccari and Libor Kozak are firing in goals at a more prolific rate than the iconic German leaving Vladimir Petkovic with a lot to think about. In the press conference for tomorrow's encounter, the Bosnian coach made it clear that Libor Kozak is not as effective in Serie A as his movement needs to be improved. Expect Sergio to get the nod tomorrow in attack unless the boss has something radical up his sleeve.

In fact, it would be difficult to see any line up that deviates significantly from the team that played in Germany. Stefano Mauri is, according to the coach, 'more of a no than a yes' and the dilemma with Ederson is how many minutes he gets. A trident of Lulic, Hernanes and Candreva behind Floccari is the most likely scenario.

However, with Ledesma suspended for Siena, Petkovic may decide to opt for a 4-4-2 formation to facilitate the on-form Libor Kozak. In any case, Alvaro Gonzalez will start but if we stick to to our usual formation, Petkovic has a tough choice between Lorik Cana and Ogenyi Onazi. Cana brings a wealth of experience to the team but has perfomed best for Lazio in a centre-back role while Onazi has won Africa over with his displays in the Cup of Nations. With weary legs being a prevalent theme of late and with the Nigeria squad inheriting free prostitutes as a reward for their triumph, Onazi may have an additional weary leg. Unless Petkovic has fallen for the jetlag excuse, expect the Albanian international to win out.

Defence is the key though. Marchetti will hold the fort and it would be a shock to see anybody other than Radu, Biava and Konko ahead of him but Petkovic has a tough call to make between Dias and Ciani. The Frenchman has been error-prone since he arrived but only lately has his complacency come to bite us in the backside, meanwhile Dias' errors seem to take chunks from our rears and yet he is probably the more accomplished centre-back. It is a very big call for Petkovic.

The coach's decision is likely to be influenced by his opinion on Innocent Emeghara. Siena have struggled all season long for a goalscorer with nobody being able to fill the void left by Mattia Destro. It emerged yesterday that the club tried to bring in Tommaso Rocchi, only for the Lazio veteran to choose Inter and with Emanuele Calaiò jumping at the opportunity to be vice-Cavani at Napoli, it seemed Siena were now destined for the drop. That was until Emeghara arrived on the scene with two goals in three Serie A games so far. Luckily for us, he has built his reputation in Switzerland and Petkovic should know him very, very well indeed. He is diminutive, yet great in the air and he will not be afraid to take on whatever defensive pairing he faces. Given Dias' penchant for the odd penalty, I am tempted to go against the grain and predict that we will see Ciani in action tomorrow evening.

Vladimir Petkovic has said that Lazio will need to give 120% against Siena and he is not wrong. Although they are bottom of the table, they are only in the relegation zone as a result of a six point deduction for their role in Calcioscommesse and their great escape has been aided by beating Inter Milan both home and away this season. They have a giant-killing profile, they beat us comfortably last season with a poker and it was a struggle beating them at the Stadio Olimpico.

At the Olimpico, it took a headed goal from Ederson and a penalty from Ledesma to get the three points although the game is better remembered for the eagle celebrations of the pair. Worryingly, Siena nabbed a consolation goal in that game courtesy of shambolic defending on a last-minute corner that saw Massimo Paci turn the ball home. Sound familiar? Poor concentration on corners cost us a point against Genoa and two against Napoli and this lack of concentration has been outined by Petkovic in his press conference. 

Given the frequency of fixtures in the last six weeks, Lazio will have outsmart Siena because it is unlikely that the boys will have the energy to outplay them. Again, much will depend on Vladimir Petkovic. He got it wrong against Genoa - the 3-5-2 allowed Genoa to take control of the game and exploit the gaps left between defence and the midfield. He got it right against Napoli, but we were not clinical enough, either in front of their goal or defending our own. He has to get the balance right once again, otherwise this game, and Champions League qualification, could easily slip away from us.

However, as Petkovic so eloquently put it in his press conference - this is the bike Lazio wanted, and so you have to ride it. We want to be in a Coppa Italia final. We want to be in a good position to make the last 16 of Europa League. We want to be leading the race to qualify for the Champions League. We, as fans, wanted this and as fans, we always want more.

Siena are riding their bike up a mountain, and the wheels are worn close to their rims. It's time for Petkovic and Lazio to provide the puncture and get some more air into our own tyres.

Probable line-ups:

Lazio (4-2-3-1): Marchetti, Konko, Ciani, Biava, Radu, Gonzalez, Cana, Candreva, Hernanes, Lulic, Floccari.

Siena (3-4-2-1): Pegolo, Teixeira, Terlizzi, Felipe, Angelo, Vergassola, Della Rocca, Rubin, Rosina, Sestu, Emeghara.

Writer: Cathal Mullan
Team Name Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
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  Players To Watch
Siena / Innocent Emeghara
Siena don't pose much of a goalscoring threat, or at least they didn't until Emeghara came along. A tricky individual who could damage our chances.
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In the absence of Ledesma, Gonzalez has a big job to do against Siena. His influence on the game will be vital.
  Referee Statistics
Siena vs Lazio
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