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Lazio vs Atalanta
Match Date: 13-12-2014
Location: Rome
Stadium Olimpico
Referee Rocchi
Time 20:45 CET
After a nail biting 2-1 victory on Sunday away to Parma, Lazio come home to Rome to face Atalanta Bergamo. Lazio have to feel a bit lucky having dodged a bullet when a first half Cassano cross was put in the back of the net by Gobbi, only to be called back by an offside that never was. Atalanta on the other hand, were able to withstand a great individual performance by Defrel from Cesena, and rally early in the second half to also bring in three points on the 3-2 game winning goal from Moralez.

The Lazio win over Parma and the full three points keeps them hovering just outside of the top five and in the hunt for European football, while the Atalanta victory over Cesena gives them comfort from the relegation zone. The importance of this game for Lazio cannot be understated, with only two games left before the Christmas break, the last being away in Milan to Inter, Lazio need to continue to put three points on the table. Lazio must show their quality here and take maximum points at home, these are precisely the games that great teams in Serie A continually win, results in a fixture as such is the difference between European football and mid table mediocrity. Lazio’s January is probably the team’s most difficult stretch with games against Sampdoria, Roma, Napoli and AC Milan, compounding the importance of this match.

Despite their position in the table, Atalanta are not to be underestimated, Colantuono will have his men prepared for this match. It should not be forgotten that Lazio fell twice to Atalanta in last season’s campaign, 1-0 at home and 2-1 away earlier in the season, yes the Cigarini pass to spring German Denis on the to break and Denis slotting it past Marchetti for the late win still haunts me. Atalanta have significant weapons at their disposal and Lazio must learn from these recent defeats in order to be victorious.

Lazio need to be concerned by the pace of the Atalanta forward line and not allow for counter attacks, this is clearly the defence’s weakest point, this was on display first hand on the initial Parma goal called back. Cigarini sees the game well and will be looking to spring Moralez and Denis with quick outlet passes. To make matters worse for Lazio, injuries in defence continue to take their toll, Braafheid is the latest to go down to injury with what looks to be a serious knee sprain that will keep him sidelined until February. Cana coming on against Parma to take Braafheid’s place suggests he is Pioli’s most comfortable option at the back, I expect the same to be the case against Atalanta, Radu will move back to the left of defence, his more comfortable position. If Radu cannot go due to injury, and he looks doubtful, we will likely see Lulic fall back to left defence. Basta should start at right back on the other side of Cana and De Vrij.

Atalanta will be compact in midfield, creativity will be of the essence for the Lazio midfield and forward line, more is needed in order to score against Atalanta, shots from distance outside of the box will not be enough. Look no further than the two Defrel goals last weekend against Atalanta, both were from wider angles up close and both were the result of great individual ball control and clinical finishing. Candreva will once again not be available due to injury and Parolo will miss out due to suspension. Biglia should start as he has been rested in practice due to fatigue, Gonzalez and Onazi should round out the midfield and pick up starting births in the wake of the recent string of injuries, Ledesma will miss out on a starting birth but should feature in this match. Up front, Djorjdevic should start again with Anderson and Mauri on his wings. I am going to predict that Djordjevic gets back into his scoring ways and that Anderson, with his new bout of confidence, continues to create chances and movements that will confuse Atalanta.

Probable Line Up:
Lazio (4-3-3): Marchetti; Basta, De Vrij, Cana, Lulic; Onazi, Biglia, Gonzalez, Mauri, Djordjevic, Anderson

Writer: Michael Petricca
Team Name Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Lazio vs Atalanta
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