Lazio host Empoli at the Stadio Olimpico in Matchday 20 of the 2021/22 Serie A.
Lazio Team News & Expected Starting Lineup
Lazio have a record of 9W-4D-6L (31 points) and sit in 8th place in Serie A.
In their recent league match against Venezia, Lazio ended the year on a positive note as they won 3-1 and earned three crucial points. Pedro opened the score in the third minute off a brilliant individual run which led to a remarkable goal. Francesco Forte levelled the score at the half-hour mark. However, in the second half, consecutive goals from Francesco Acerbi and Luis Alberto secured the victory. Lazio had a strong end to the year as they won three of their last five Serie A matches in 2021.
Ciro Immobile is expected to return to the lineup after missing the previous two matches due to Covid. This is positive news for Maurizio Sarri and Lazio, as Pedro and Felipe Anderson have played significant minutes this season due to the absence of a backup striker. A full bench should be available to the manager against Empoli.
Player to Watch: Ciro Immobile
Lazio will have a significant boost to their lineup on Thursday as Immobile is expected to return to the lineup. The captain has missed the last two matches due to Covid; however, Sarri’s men have fared quite well. Immobile has been successful versus the Azzurri as he’s scored against them in two of the last three encounters. Prior to his absence, Immobile has scored in four of his past six Serie A matches and six of his past nine matches across all competitions. He will look to continue on this positive run of form against Empoli. So far in Serie A, the 31-year-old has started in 15 of 19 matches; he has scored sixteen goals and provided two assists in all competitions.
Empoli Team News & Expected Starting Lineup
Empoli have a record of 8W-3D-8L (27 points) and sit in 9th place in the top flight of Italian football.
In their recent league match against Milan, they were defeated 4-2. The loss ended Empoli’s five-game unbeaten streak and it was their first loss since November 22 versus Hellas Verona. However, Gli Azzurri are having an impressive season where they’ve managed to earn points against Napoli, Juventus, Sassuolo and Fiorentina. Franck Kessie led the way with a brace for Milan while Alessandro Florenzi scored the game-winner. Theo Hernandez provided the assurance goal late in the second half. Nedim Bajrami and Andrea Pinamonti scored for Empoli in a hard-fought match between the two sides.
Concerning absences, Emmanuel Ekong, Nicolas Haas and Ardian Ismajli will be unavailable to Aurelio Andreazzoli. In addition, Filippo Bandinelli, Sebastiano Luperto and Szymon Zurkowski are one yellow card away from serving a one-game suspension.
Player to Watch: Andrea Pinamonti
Andrea Pinamonti is currently having his best season in the top flight as he leads Empoli with seven goals. The striker is on loan from Inter and has been noticed by several clubs. He has appeared in 18 Serie A matches where he has started 15 and substituted in three. Pinamonti has been fundamental in their attack as he’s given Empoli some stability up front. He has shown good pace, been clinical and, most importantly, is playing with plenty of confidence, which has been an issue in recent seasons. Pinamonti has three goals in the past six Serie A matches and is a player that Lazio’s backline need to be prepared for.
Empoli have struggled against Lazio in the Serie A as they’ve lost the last six league matches versus the Biancocelesti. During this stretch, they have conceded 11 goals and scored just twice; furthermore, they haven’t scored in a Serie A away game against the Biancocelesti since March 2007. Although defending has been an issue for Lazio (as they have just one clean sheet in the last 10 Serie A matches), scoring has not been in recent times, as they have scored two or more goals in four of their past five matches across all competitions. No team has scored more goals at home this season than the Biancocelesti; however, 63% of Empoli’s points have been won away from home (17/27), with only Atalanta (68%) and Genoa (64%) having a higher percentage, making this an entertaining contest.