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Genoa vs Lazio
Match Date: 21-09-2014
Location: Genoa
Stadium Luigi Ferraris
Referee Guida
Time 15:00 CET
Lazio take on Genoa this weekend at Stadio Luigi Ferraris hoping to take three points back to Rome and keep momentum going. Typically, you need more than one win to build a bit of momentum but a convincing win over Cesena with resurgent home support behind you can get that ball rolling very quickly.

I am pleased with Lazio's start to the season. Upon seeing the fixture list, I felt that Lazio would open up the Serie A campaign with the most difficult game on paper followed by the most straight-forward. Milan are unlikely to win the Scudetto, but they are a very good side who needed a win on day one at the San Siro and given our record there, that was our Everest. With all due respect to Cesena, they were a molehill although admittedly our defensive problems against Milan made it look like it could be a bit of a mountain.

That win, however, was easy pickings. What you want from your manager at this early stage of the season is to identify a problem and remedy it and Lazio's defence came a long way in two weeks. Edson Braafheid and Santiago Gentiletti had debuts to remember while Dusan Basta and Stefan De Vrij redeemed themselves after shaky performances against Milan. We should remember, however, that this was Cesena. Genoa at the Luigi Ferraris is a stern test and one we have become accustomed to failing in recent years. In fact, we have lost all six of our last six encounters with Genoa. Our last win against them was in May 2011; one of those days where Hernanes single-handedly played the opposition off the park.

This misfortune against Genoa is almost as worrying at Lazio's San Siro curse, but there are logical reasons why Genoa keep beating us. Last season, on both occasions, we met Genoa slap bang in the middle of a mini-injury crisis. The season before, we absolutely dominated at home without finding a way to put a ball in the net while away from home, we were set up terribly as you could have landed a plane in the space between our defence and midfield. And in the season previous, we lost at home having fielded a team full of new acquisitions while the return game happened to occur in the middle of that terrible winter-spring we had under Reja.

I think Genoa have exploited our weaknesses better than most teams because I think they are a team who have often played on their wits. Teams who set themselves up well at the back and attack with intelligence often upset Lazio, regardless of how much quality they actually possess. To make matters even more difficult this season, Genoa have a squad that possesses real quality and they have shown against both Napoli and Fiorentina that they are not exactly easy to beat.

That being said, if Petkovic's short-but-sweet spell with the club has taught us anything, it is that an aggressive and confident Lazio is an intimidating prospect, and winning can become a habit very quickly. I am hoping that Pioli can inject just the right amount of pragmatism into our attacking philosophy to make this a reality. There is an evident gulf in quality between teams like us and the majority of teams in the division - we saw that against Cesena - and although Genoa will compete and compete hard, what we need to get back into Europe and what Pioli needs to earn himself a contract renewal is routine wins against sides like Genoa.

Lazio have a few injury concerns. Radu, Gonzalez and Cataldi are almost certainly out while Djordjevic and Marchetti are recovering from minor injuries. In addition to this, Lazio will play three times this week, ending that run with a decent trip to Palermo and put simply, some players will not be able to play 90 minutes in all three games. Pioli will have to think like a snooker player - first and foremost he has to sink the first ball into the pocket, but make sure he is well-positioned for the next shot.

With that in mind, I believe Pioli will field the same team he did against Cesena providing everyone is 100%, unless he feels it is worth resting someone for Udinese. Although the media believe Federico Marchetti may be handed his debut on Sunday afternoon, I think Berisha will remain between the posts. Basta, De Vrij and Gentiletti should start in defence while Braafheid is likely to remain at left-back. I am not convinced Braafheid has enough matches under his belt to play three games in quick succession, so there is a slight chance Konko could feature at left-back at some point this weekend.

In midfield, I see no reason why Pioli would drop Parolo or Lulic. The only fit, natural alternative is Onazi and as his proposed contract extension rumbles on in the background, there is no immediate need to reward him with a start. If it was not clear before, it is now that Pioli prefers Biglia. Biglia is favourite to start, but if Pioli goes back and watches some of our recent encounters with Genoa, I think he could change his mind. We will not get away with significant gaps between defence and midfield. Either we tweak something, or we pray that we put on a defensive masterclass.

In attack, Djordjevic is training but I have my doubts that Pioli will risk him considering he had a hamstring complaint after Cesena. I believe Klose will get the nod, Candreva will surely flank him but following underwhelming displays against both Milan and Cesena, I can see Keita being omitted with Pioli turning his attention to Mauri. Our captain scored against Cesena having come on for Lulic, but most managers will attempt to avoid playing a 19 year-old three times in one week and this would be the obvious game to give Keita a reprieve. Perhaps we will see both Mauri and Felipe Anderson, but I just think Lulic will retain his place because he has the legs and the experience to be a difference-maker here.

It would not surprise me if this Lazio squad fear Genoa slightly in light of recent head-to-head results, but Pioli will remember that a win against Genoa kept him in a job last Christmas. He knows what it takes to defeat Gasperini's Genoa so we can take heart in that. I think.

Predicted line-up:
(4-3-3): Berisha; Basta, De Vrij, Gentiletti, Braafheid; Parolo, Biglia, Lulic; Candreva, Klose, Mauri.

Writer: C
Team Name Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Genoa vs Lazio
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  Players To Watch
Genoa / Juraj Kucka
Dangerous player who always seems to have one of his better days against Lazio.
Lazio / Antonio Candreva
Obvious choice, but having underwhelmed against Milan and overwhelmed against Cesena, this is where he needs to stand up and be counted.
  Referee Statistics
Genoa vs Lazio
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