When relegation threatened Lecce comes to the Stadio Olimpico on Friday night, Lazio will be hoping to retake second position in the Serie A standings.
The home team is three points outside the top four with four games left, while the visitors are four points above the relegation zone.
With a healthy eight points lead over the fifth Serie A (SA) spot a few weeks ago, Lazio appeared to be on track to clinch UEFA Champions League participation. However, three losses in their previous four games (W1) have drastically altered the situation. Coach Maurizio Sarri warned his team that Champions League football may still easily elude them after their most recent 2-0 loss to fellow top four challengers Milan, which saw their lead shrink to just three points.
Given that Lazio has won all three of its home matches in the SA against teams currently ranked in the bottom five, to a score of “to-nil,” the arrival of relegation threatened Lecce may be the ideal chance for them to resume winning ways. Lecce, however, has recently been a bogey side for the hosts, as seen by a 2-1 loss in the head to head matchup and just one victory in the previous four home meetings.
Lecce will be eager to maintain that recent trend today given their own relegation concerns, especially as they attempt to recover from a 1-0 home loss to fellow relegation threatened club Verona last weekend. Due to Spezia’s defeat, the loss wasn’t as catastrophic as it could have been, therefore with four rounds remaining, the distance to safety was still four points.
Marco Baroni, the team’s coach, will still be anxious to avoid suffering a third straight defeat because he is aware that his team may still easily be pulled further into the relegation struggle. Although Lecce arrived in Rome on a five games losing road losing streak with just one goal scored during that span, away form has been one of their main obstacles this season. Baroni may need to rely on home games to ensure their safety given that they have a “six pointer” against Spezia in the upcoming round. They have also suffered nine losses from their 13 away games against teams currently above them in the table (W2, D2), with seven of those nine losses seeing them fail to score.
Ciro Immobile, who has only scored once in his last seven games since returning from injury, will look to replicate his game winning goal from the previous meeting. In that game, Gabriel Strefezza not only scored, but he also provided Lecce’s lone victory throughout the final 11 rounds.
Danilo Cataldi, a midfielder for Lazio, has missed the last two games due to injury and is not anticipated to play on Friday. Matias Vecino is also probably not going to play after missing last weekend’s loss to Milan.
Key striker Ciro Immobile will continue to lead the line for the Eagles despite scoring just once in his previous nine Serie A games, with Mattia Zaccagni and Felipe Anderson filling the wide attacking positions.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto will continue to play in midfield, and Alessio Romagnoli and Nicolo Casale should continue to work together in the center of Lazio’s defense.
Since Kastriot Dermaku, an Albanian defender, is still recovering from a muscular injury, Federico Baschirotto and Samuel Umtiti will continue to play center defense for Lecce.
Gabriel Strefezza, Federico Di Francesco, and Gambian attacker Assan Ceesay are anticipated to join the visitors’ forward line at the other end of the field.
Morten Hjulmand, the midfield cornerstone for the Wolves, will be joined by Alexis Blin and Remi Oudin in Lecce’s powerhouse.
Possible starting eleven for Lazio
Provedel, Marusic, Casale, Romagnoli, Hysaj, Milinkovic-Savic, Antonio, Alberto, Anderson, Immobile and Zaccagni.
Possible starting eleven for Lecce
Falcone, Gendrey, Baschirotto, Umtiti, Gallo, Blin, Hjulmand, Oudin, Strefezza, Ceesay and Di Francesco.
We predict: Lazio 2-0 Lecce
Lecce has lost each of their previous five away league games, with the Wolves failing to score in four of those losses, while Lazio has won four of their last five home league games.
In light of this, we anticipate Lazio to triumph easily over Lecce, who appear poised to fall further into danger of being relegated.