Serie A Preview: Lazio v. AC Milan

Date: Sunday, November 1, 2015

Kickoff: 2:45 PM ET (USA) / 20:45 CET (ITA)

League Position: Milan (8), Lazio (6)

Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy

Two narrow victories in a row do not a resurgence make, but you gotta start somewhere. 7 points out of the last possible 9 helped the Rossoneri climb up the table a bit and a few unexpected players have stepped up. But with no disrespect to Sassuolo (who just defeated Juve) or Chievo, the hosts this Sunday represent a very different proposition.

Lazio have taken the last two meetings from Milan, one in league play and the other in Coppa Italia. Both matches saw a player sent off and it’s always a tough contest against our old Roman foes. Still, the hosts have faltered against top ten opposition lately with losses to Sassuolo and Atalanta, and Napoli put an even more crooked number on Lazio than they put on us earlier this season, so it’s a winnable match for Milan. We’re still looking for our first 3 game win streak since two seasons ago!

Tale of the Tape

Milan: WLLDWW
Lazio: WWWLWL

The Chievo match was the first time in a while that we actually looked like a big club taking on a small club for large stretches. We mostly controlled possession (54%) and outshot our opponents 24 to 4. Our average shots per match (14) is now on par with Lazio, but they possess the ball much better so far (56% to 49%) so we need to make what we do get count.

Lazio’s recent home record is stellar. They’ve won their past 5 home matches, scoring at least 2 goals in each, and keeping a clean sheet in the last 4 at the Stadio Olimpico.

Clearly we are practicing set pieces on the training ground, as we’ve scored from 5 so far this season. I just wish we’d practice defending them as well, since we’ve now conceded 6 times from these situations.

Both teams will be looking for width as Lazio (26%) and Milan (24%) rarely attack up the middle. Milan’s crossing however, when not coming in from set pieces, has remained ineffective, something their fullbacks and the likes of Cerci and Bertolacci must improve.

This match could get sloppy. Only Empoli’s player have been dispossessed more each match than Milan’s and Lazio’s, each tallying close to 14 errors of this nature per match. Keeping it simple and playing within themselves is the name of the game for Milan this weekend.

Slick football resulting in a Milan goal? Unheard of!

Slick football resulting in a Milan goal? Unheard of!

Missing Pieces

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Abate is injured again. Menez and Balotelli are also still on the mend, while Niang looks set to make the bench after an extended stay in the training room.

Lazio are without a few useful pieces, with Parolo and Keita Balde set to miss out. Young defender de Vrij will miss more time as well.

Possible Line-up

Diego Lopez

De Sciglio – Alex – Romagnoli – Antonelli

Kucka – Montolivo – Bertolacci

Cerci – Bacca – Bonaventura

Our problems are obviously far from solved, but this line-up has essentially won the last two games, so why not a third? All except this keeper that is…

Look, Donnarumma has been fine and if I had to bet money I’d wager that he starts again. But I still feel like I can say without much controversy that Diego Lopez is the best keeper we have on the squad and I think I’d feel better with him between the posts in a visit to a hostile stadium. If the youngster does get the start I of course hope he acquits himself well again, but I maintain that the Spaniard is the best and most logical option for this match.

16, eh? I'm gonna need to see that birth certificate.

16, eh? I’m gonna need to see that birth certificate.

What to Watch for:

Danger Man – Felipe Anderson has been Lazio’s top man all season and it’s no wonder he continues to attract interest from major European teams. Skillful on the ball and an excellent shot, the Brazilian is also in torrid form with 4 goals in his past 4 games in all competitions, including a brace in a man-of-the-match performance against Torino. He’s not particularly strong on the ball, but without De Jong in there to bully him a bit, I wonder who will slow him down in the attacking third.

Romagnoli’s Partner – The young Lazio native Romagnoli has really begun to show his worth during the recent stretch but a reliable and consistent partner for him has yet to emerge. It’s not that Mihajlovic doesn’t have choices, he just doesn’t seem to have great choices. Mexes, Zapata, Alex, and Ely are all available, but just looking at those names keeps me believing we still need to spend on another CB. Alex has done well enough the past few rounds, but I think I’d still prefer to see what Ely’s got in case we don’t reinforce that position, which would hardly be shocking.

Niang! – The speedy young Frenchman (both on foot and behind the wheel apparently) chose to come back to Milan and suffered a Summer injury which has kept him out of the team until now. Presumably not ready to start, and perhaps not fitting well into this new 4-3-3, the striker nonetheless represents a much different type of attacker from our more traditional forwards and could be a good change of pace substitution coming on late in matches from here on out. I hope he gets a chance soon.

About Dave Lamb

Dave Lamb is a lifelong Milan supporter, public school teacher, and aspiring stand-up comedian living in Boston. You can follow him on twitter @DaveLambComedy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation