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  Upcoming Match | Lazio vs Torino
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Lazio vs Torino
Match Date: 26-10-2014
Location: Rome
Stadium Olimpico
Referee Giacomelli
Time 18:00 CET
Confidence will be brimming this Sunday as Lazio welcome Torino to the Stadio Olimpico in what must be another intriguing game for the neutral. A methodical 2-0 win against La Viola in Florence has Lazio on a three-game winning streak while Torino's 1-0 victory over their bogey team, Udinese and another victory midweek in the Europa League will not only give them belief, but will put some energy in what are sure to be tired legs come kick-off.

The three points Lazio stole from under Fiorentina's nose will go a long way, but racking up wins against teams who are playing in European competitions will go just as far. It is a role reversal that Lazio need to take advantage of to secure a quick return to Europe. This is unfamiliar territory for Giampiero Ventura and Torino, but you have to be slightly impressed with their present form, given the loss of two Italian internationals in 2013-14 Capocannoniere, Ciro Immobile and his pacy sidekick, Alessio Cerci.

Torino are not to be underestimated, but all things considered, it would be bitterly disappointing not to extend the streak to four wins, even with the current injury crisis. Last weekend, the bill of health was pretty clean, this weekend, not so much. Danilo Cataldi and Dusan Basta will not return, their absences lengthening to the point where the definition of a minor injury is being tested by the Lazio medical team. In addition to them, Keita Balde Diao also misses out while Stefano Mauri will also skip Torino. He looked a bit worse for wear as he was substituted against Fiorentina, but the worse was yet to come as he had an overnight stay in a hospital due to severe tonsilitis. He'll be resting up on doctor's orders.

There's more though. Antonio Candreva has also picked up some sort of illness and although it seems less serious, the fact he still has a fever makes 90 minutes on Sunday look like a big ask. Stefano Pioli is more likely to hand Felipe Anderson a rare start with Senad Lulic retaining his place in the team despite suffering a nasty bruise on his knee which has prevented him from training fully this week.

In an ideal world, Pioli would take no unnecessary risks but the manager has committed himself to a clear goal in a results-based business, and therefore he needs to do whatever is necessary to secure three points. If Pioli decides to give the weekend off to anyone there is a concern over, then his only option would be to field a 4-3-1-2 with Felipe Anderson in the trequartista role behind Filip Djordjevic and Miroslav Klose. That would be interesting, but voyages into the unknown are exactly that. The pressure on the Brazilian - who has just been called up to Brazil U21s - would be immense and the untested duo of Djordjevic and Klose would have plenty to prove also.

Therefore, we should expect a return to the 4-3-3 with Senad Lulic being risked with his bruised knee. He would line up on the left with Felipe Anderson on the right and Djordjevic up the middle. The midfield is likely to consist of Lucas Biglia, Marco Parolo and Ogenyi Onazi. If Candreva is deemed fit to start that gives Pioli the option of sticking with the 4-2-3-1 with Onazi being relegated to the bench but I would expect Pioli to be well on his way with preparations for this game and to give the Nigerian the start.

In defence, Lorik Cana returns from his Lazio suspension but a decision from UEFA regarding his conduct in the Serbia - Albania debacle is imminent and could put him out of action. He has been training separately this week, which makes you wonder if he is actually struggling for fitness or if Lazio are certain that he will be suspended for both club and country come Sunday and have differentiated his training with that in mind. If absent, Michael Ciani will probably get the nod over Diego Novaretti as the Frenchman's performance against Fiorentina was probably just enough to warrant a second opportunity. Stefan De Vrij should line up alongside him with Cavanda on the right and Radu on the left. Despite looking more and more uncertain between the posts with every week that passes, Federico Marchetti should start ahead of Etrit Berisha.

Torino fielded the best available line up in Europa League, so Ventura will have to decide whether to field a weakened side, or to put out a full-strength eleven in the knowledge that they will probably tire significantly during the game. My guess is he will plump for the latter option and ask his boys to come out of the blocks quickly. Minus Immobile and Cerci, this season's Torino are a very different prospect to the team that tormented our defence last season, but with Fabio Quagliarella in their ranks, the potential to shock quality opposition remains. At the back, they look much more solid than they did last season and the return of Kamil Glik from suspension will give them a boost. Omar El Kaddouri, who like Glik was suspended for insulting a referee, sees his suspension continue into this round and that's certainly good news for Lazio as he is arguably Torino's most potent weapon this season.

This is the first in a series of winnable games for Lazio. There are no games between now and Christmas where you would expect Lazio to go out and play for anything but three points. The momentum is with us and while hiccups should always be expected with this team, you would hope that a team of our quality can rack up the wins and put the pressure we've experienced in recent weeks on our rivals.

Could Torino prove to be enough of an obstacle to trip us up? Yes. Ventura could start the game with six midfielders - as he did on the road to Napoli - and prevent us from getting a foothold in the game. He could park the bus and hope that Quagliarella unleashes one of his blockbusters at a vital moment to nab a fortuitous win, or he could set his team up to counter as Pippo Inzaghi did with Milan. In fact, there is no reason why Ventura cannot combine these approaches in one concrete gameplan. The question is, however, will there be enough in Torino's tank to execute such a gameplan?

That's something for Ventura to consider. From our perspective, we just need to do what we did against Fiorentina. No matter what gameplan Ventura goes with, Lazio will have chances; we just need to take them when they come, and keep it tidy at the back. With that victory in Florence, we showed the rest of Serie A that when things come together for us, we can be a thorn in anyone's side. Now we have to show everyone that we're not just a very good side that can pick up points and have a good season, but a ruthless side that are hellbent on their quest to make it back into Europe. Torino will suffer, but only if we make them.

It's time to turn the question, 'will we be successful?' into the statement, 'we will be successful'.

Predicted line-up:
Lazio (4-3-3): Marchetti; Cavanda, De Vrij, Ciani, Radu; Parolo, Biglia, Onazi; Felipe Anderson, Djordjevic, Lulic.

Writer: C
 
  Standings
 
 
Team Name Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
3Lazio382161171383369
9Torino381412124845354
 
  Form
 
 
Lazio vs Torino
LLWWWLWDLW
 
  Recent Five Matches
 
 
Lazio vs Torino
19 10 2014 Fiorentina vs Lazio 0-219 10 2014 Torino vs Udinese 1-0
05 10 2014 Lazio vs Sassuolo 3-205 10 2014 Napoli vs Torino 2-1
29 09 2014 Palermo vs Lazio 0-428 09 2014 Torino vs Fiorentina 1-1
25 09 2014 Lazio vs Udinese 0-124 09 2014 Cagliari vs Torino 1-2
21 09 2014 Genoa vs Lazio 1-021 09 2014 Torino vs Verona 0-1
 
  Players To Watch
 
Lazio / Stefan De Vrij
Stefan De Vrij is beginning to find his feet in Italy, and another big performance from him on Sunday could go a long way.
Torino / Giuseppe Vives
The man who filled the void at Lecce when we poached Cristian Ledesma has had a modest career, but despite his advancing years, he is becoming more and more influential to Torino. The focus will be on Quagliarella, but it will take a big game from Vives for Torino to get a result.
 
 
  Referee Statistics
 
 
Lazio vs Torino
L W D
L W D
110
100
 
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