A busy week of football for Simone Inzaghi and his Lazio. After knocking Inter out of the Coppa Italia at the San Siro – when the sides met in the quarter-final a week ago – the Biancocelesti faced off against Frosinone in Matchday 22 of the Serie A TIM on Monday evening. A 1-0 victory in the regional Derby, it was not the most convincing of performances from the side who have recently been on very good form (despite losing to Napoli and Juventus in Matchday 20 and 21). Lazio had Ecuadorian striker Felipe Caicedo to thank for the three points away from home, as his left-footed curler from just inside the 18-yard box was the difference maker. The traveling Laziali got their money’s worth, as they moved into a three-way tie for the fifth spot in the league, just one point behind Milan for fourth. Now, just three days after their last match, Lazio will host Empoli at the Stadio Olimpico in a very important battle for three points. Join S.K.Moore and TheLaziali.com as they preview the clash, so you know what to expect from what promises to be a must-win game for Lazio.
Lazio vs Empoli: The Opposition
Empoli sits 17th place in the Serie A TIM, with just 18 points from their 22 games so far. The Tuscan-based side have scored 27 times whilst conceded 44 and have the worst away record in the entire division; even less than the bottom three clubs of Bologna, Frosinone, and Chievo Verona. Empoli have just 4 points away from home this season, scoring just 11 times in 10 outings and conceding 24 for a 2.4 average per game. Empoli have not won a single fixture away this season – they have four draws – yet were able to scrape an impressive 1-1 draw against AC Milan and secure a 3-2 victory over Atalanta earlier in the season. In Empoli’s last match, they came back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 against Chievo Verona at home. Facing a tough challenge against a Lazio team with high morale, Empoli will be hoping to overcome the impossible and pick up points here in Rome tonight. They will be banking on Italian striker Francesco Caputo to have his scoring boots on: the 31-year old Italian striker has 11 goals and three assists this season, coming off a brace last match.
Lazio vs Empoli: The Biancocelesti View
As aforementioned, Lazio defeated Frosinone on Monday evening and Inter Milan in Coppa Italia during the week. Before the match against Inter, Lazio faced two consecutive defeats, against Napoli and Juventus; albeit giving performances worthy of those strong sides and proving the competence of the team against tough opposition. It has been a tough period for Lazio and only promises to get tougher with the upcoming Europa League fixtures against Sevilla, the first leg of the Coppa semi-final against Milan at the end of February, and a Derby della Capitale against Roma at the start of March.
Lazio currently sits in 7th place in the Serie A TIM – with 35 points from 22 games – level on points with 5th placed Atalanta and 6th placed rivals Roma, whilst being behind 4th placed Milan by just one point (36). Atalanta will take on SPAL, Roma face-off against Chievo Verona, and Milan host Cagliari in Matchday 23; Lazio will be aware of this and know that they must put in a worthy performance and secure three points if they are to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
With Marco Parolo suspended, we will likely see summer signing Valon Berisha pick up his first start in the Biancocelesti colors in the Serie A TIM. The Kosovan has been kept as a substitute since returning from injury; after his lively performances in the Europa League and for RB Salzburg over the past few years, Laziali will be hoping for the player to shine and challenge for a starting position. In addition, January transfer window signing Romulo is likely to make his debut for Lazio tonight playing on the right flank. The 31-year old is on loan from Genoa. Ciro Immobile looks to be having a rest for tonight’s match; although summoned for the clash, it looks as if Joaquin Correa and Felipe Caicedo will lead the charge in the attack.
Lazio vs Empoli: Predicted Line-up’s
Lazio (3-5-2): Strakosha; Bastos, Acerbi, Radu; Romulo, Berisha, Lucas Leiva, Milinkovic-Savic, Lulic; Correa, Caicedo.
Empoli (3-5-2): Provedel; Silvestre, Rasmussen, Veseli; Di Lorenzo, Krunic, Bennacer, Traore, Pasqual; Farias, Caputo.
Lazio vs Empoli: Prediction
Although Empoli have a lot to offer, Lazio should have no problem dispatching of their opposition on Thursday evening. Spirits are high in the Biancocelesti camp after the 1-0 victory against Frosinone on Monday evening; despite a few fitness concerns and Matchday 23 in the Serie A TIM being played just three days after Matchday 22, Inzaghi’s side should come away with all three points at the Stadio Olimpico in front of their home fans.
Lazio 2 – Empoli 1