Three matches to go in Serie A and the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa hosts undoubtedly the game of the weekend as sixth place Sampdoria welcome third place Lazio to the port city with European places up for grabs.
Sampdoria have had a fantastic season under the guidance of former Lazio full-back SinišaMihajlović and a place in next season’s Europa League is tantalisingly close with IBlucerchiati sitting just one point behind fifth placed Fiorentina who currently occupy the final qualifying spot. Another sub plot to this story is that their city rivals Genoa currently sit just a point behind them and will look to profit from any slip ups from Mihajlović’s men.
Lazio are deep in head to head confrontation with their city neighbours AS Roma and Napoli for qualification into next season’s Champions League and are still reeling from last Sunday’s 1-2 home defeat by Inter which saw IBiancocelesti finish the game with just nine players after the dismissals of goalkeeper Federico Marchetti and Brazilian full-back Mauricio both of which will miss the trip to Genoa this weekend. Another headache for the capital club is the rescheduling of the Italian Cup Final to next Wednesday (20th) after their opponents Juventus, reached the final of the Champions League.
The Luigi Ferraris has been a real fortress this season with only Juventus managing to return home with all three points on the day they clinched the Scudetto two weeks ago. Only AC Milan and Udinese have managed to score more than one goal against Sampdoria at home during the current campaign with I Blucerchiati proving a tough nut to crack on their own patch.
In contrast to this weekend’s visitors, Sampdoria put in a devastating display last time out dismantling Udinese 4-1 at the Stadio Friuli thanks in part, to an inspired display from midfielder Roberto Soriano who grabbed the opening two goals to set his team on their way. Also on target for I Blucerchiati last weekend were Ghanaian midfield duo AfriyieAcquah and Joseph Duncan but it is likely that both players will start Saturday’s match from the bench as Pedro Obiang returns after suspension andMihajlović reverts to a 4-3-3 starting formation.
The old stager himself Samuel Eto’o will in all probability, lead the line once again in the absence of the injured Eder alongside Colombian Luis Muriel and Stefano Okaka. There could be a recall for defenders AlessioRomagnoli and Lorenzo De Silvestri who were both suspended forlast weekend’s trip to Udine.
For Lazio, Albanian goalkeeper EtritBerisha (who’s first job last weekend was to save a penalty after replacing the dismissed Marchetti) will continue between the posts and Dutch defender Stefan de Vrijcould make a welcome return to the centre of the defence. Lucas Bigliawill miss the match through injury but coach Stefano Pioli should be able to welcome back talented Italian midfielderDaniloCataldi. Lazio brushed aside Saturday’s opponents 3-0 in the corresponding fixture in Rome in January, they may find Sampdoria to be a different proposition this time around.
Our Probable Formations:
Sampdoria(4-3-3)Viviano; Romagnoli, Silvestre, De Silvestre, Regini; Pedro Obiang, Palombo, Soriano; Eto’o, Muriel, Okaka
Lazio (4-2-3-1) Berisha; Radu, Ciani, de Vrij, Basta; Parolo, Cataldi; Felipe Anderson, Mauri, Candreva; Klose
BY STEVE MITCHELL