After a long, challenging, intriguing and exciting season it all comes down to the final round and the deciding 90 minutes for the outcome of the season. For Lazio, that is one of four teams highly involved in the competition for third, the last weeks have been rounds of wasted chances of making the final Champions League spot a reality – but the results of last Sunday opened up the competition again.
The opposition late on Sunday is Inter, another of the four teams having the chance to clinch third. The Nerazzuri have been counted out all through the season with miserable results and wasted chances, but as both Napoli and Udinese have failed to take advantage of the Lazio slip ups , they are now back in the competition. Coming from a win against Milan will have boosted the Inter players, and under Strammaccioni the record of only one loss in the seven games with the previous youth coach at the helm.
For Lazio the game might very well be the last under current coach. No public statements have confirmed or denied this, but after a turbulent season media are expecting Reja to wave goodbye after the game. On the other hand, the coach himself has stated he wants to wait and see how the season finishes before he takes a decision for the coming season. Either way, the team will want to end the season in style as the Olimpico will be crowded and the fans have promised a nice little suprise tifo to end the season.
Reja can choose to include Klose and Lulic for the final game of the season, and many claim the absence of the two players is what has stopped Lazio from scoring vital goals in the latter stages of the season. With the duo back on the pitch against Atalanta the outcome was the first win in six matches and hopefully Lazio can end the season with consecutive wins – for the first time in 2012.
A quick look at the run for third, as neither of the two teams has their faith fully in their own hands, gives us the following conditions for each team:
Udinese will advance as long as the team wins or draws Catania away. With a draw in this game and with a potential Lazio win the standings would see the two teams on equal points, but with a better head-to-head record Udinese will be through to the Champions League qualifiers for the second year running.
Lazio need Udinese to lose, and at the same time beat Inter. In that case, Lazio will be thorugh independent of what happens in the other games.
Inter have the hardest way to the third at this moment. The team has to beat Lazio, while Catania beat Udinese and Napoli drop points at home to Siena.
Napoli need Udinese to lose, Lazio to lose and to win their own game against Siena.
Lazio will be employing the traditional 4-2-3-1 in the last push for a successful season. With Biava, Ledesma, Lulic and Klose back on the pitch Lazio look a lot more interesting than in the recent months, and with more than ten players still out the inclusion of the just mentioned will be decsiive. The season has to be concluded before critics and other people who write about the team give their final thoughts, so I will wait as well, but Lazio need to take the chance and beat Inter. The two teams might have fans who are on good terms with each other, but there will be no friendly feelings on the pitch.
There are plenty of curious aspects of the game to keep in mind while watching it. Last year’s Lazio star Zarate is today representing Inter, and if the player would come on the field it will be interesting to see the reaction of the Curva as well as the player. Inter coach Strammaccioni is from Roma himself, and a supporter of the team with the same name. Exactly 38 years ago Chinaglia and the men managed to get the first Lazio scudetto. The list goes on. The game tomorrow is more than only a game. It is a decider for the future.
Lazio: Bizzarri, Scaloni, Diakite, Biava, Konko, Gonzalez, Ledesma, Candreva, Mauri, Lulic, Klose.
Inter: Castelazzi, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Nagatomo, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Guarin, Alvarez, Pazzini, Milito.