What: Italian Serie A
Who: Lazio vs Napoli
When: Saturday 9th February, 2013, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
It is fair to say that Lazio’s game against Napoli will be crucial should the Biancocelesti want to have any hope of reigniting the fight for second place in the Serie A standings. Trailing their adversaries on the night by six points, Vladimir Petkovic’s side know that a victory is needed to make amends with their fans after a series of disappointing league games.
Lazio’s form has been irregular in recent times. The 2000 Serie A winners managed to defeat Juventus towards the end of January to reach the final of the Coppa Italia, which will be disputed on their own turf. However, they have been winless in their last three league games, losing against Genoa and Chievo and drawing against Palermo.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that Lazio will be missing their most important striker for this match: Miroslav Klose remains on the sidelines, the veteran German striker has now been ruled out for almost two months following a knee injury. Former Manchester United man Louis Saha has been brought in as his replacement, but it remains to be seen if the Frenchman will make his debut here.
Scudetto In Sight
While Lazio are trying hard to claim second place at Napoli’s expense, the Partenopei have a third Scudetto in their sights. Not crowned league champions since 1990 – when a certain Diego Maradona played in their ranks – Walter Mazzarri’s side are not that far from the top of the table, with only three points separating them from leaders Juventus and as such, cannot afford to be caught napping in Rome.
Contrary to their foes from the Italian capital, things have been going well for Napoli. Forward Edinson Cavani is Serie A’s highest scorer so far this term with 18 strikes to his name, three clear of AC Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy. And the Azzurri are in good form domestically, having won five of their last six league games, with their only setback being the 1-1 draw against Fiorentina on 20th January.
Despite Lazio having their share of problems, Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne refuses to rule them out of this one, saying that they should be handled properly.“On Saturday we go against Lazio knowing what they did to the Bianconeri [Juventus] but we will try to come back home with the three points.”
Indeed, earning the victory on this occasion will be hard as Napoli have failed to find the win in their last three visits to the Stadio Olimpico, losing two matches in the process.
Lazio 0-1 Chievo (26/01; Serie A)
Lazio 2-1 Juventus (29/01; Coppa Italia)
Genoa 3-2 Lazio (03/02; Serie A)
Fiorentina 1-1 Napoli (20/01; Serie A)
Parma 1-2 Napoli (27/01; Serie A)
Napoli 2-0 Catania (02/02; Serie A)
Lazio: Ogenyi Onazi; Ederson; Miroslav Klose; Cristian Brocchi
Napoli: Leandro Rinaudo; Blerim Dzemali (suspended)
Players to watch
Lazio – Antonio Candreva: The midfielder is amongst his team’s most important players, as he has become a key fixture under Petkovic after spending the last few seasons heading from one loan deal to another. Conscious of the nuisance he presents, he will need to be dealt with firmly by his Napoli counterparts should they want to end the night on a high note.
Napoli – Edinson Cavani: Few players are finding things better in Italy than Cavani. The Uruguayan leads the goalscoring charts and he will be one of the key players on the night against Lazio, knowing that he scored all three goals for his club when they overcame the same opponents 3-0 last September.
Napoli have only won two of their last six fixtures against Lazio. Whether Cavani will feel tiredness following international duty with Uruguay will greatly influence the match’s outcome. Lazio have suffered lacklustre form and desperately need to win this one, but Napoli remain well equipped to handle their adversaries and could finally break their bad luck at the Stadio Olimpico. Lazio 1-2 Napoli.
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