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Lazio v Juventus Serie A Match Preview
It’s a fabulous Friday in Serie A this week as the big match of round 15 sees Juventus head to the capital to face Lazio.
Pioli’s preparations hampered by speculation surrounding his future
If we are to believe the Italian sports press, then defeat at home to Juventus on Friday night will spell the end for Lazio coach Stefano Pioli. Having gone five games without a win, President Claudio Lotito is predicted to wield the axe if the tactician fails to take something positive out of the game. Last weekend, his team were unlucky to lose in Tuscany against Empoli, but indiscipline in the camp this week (which saw young Englishman Ravel Morrison break a club curfew by leaving the training camp without authorisation) was upstaged by a bizarre injury to Bosnian midfielder Senad Lulić, who lost part of a finger after an accident outside the team’s training ground on Wednesday. Pioli must feel like his world is caving in around him at the moment, as a team who narrowly missed qualification to the group stages of the Champions League, starts to disintegrate in front of his and unfortunately for him, thePresident’s, eyes.
All is well again as Juventus find the Max factor
A month ago, Juventus were being written off this season after a series of desperate results left them way off the title pace. Now, thanks to four consecutive league wins, Massimo Allegri’s side are once again in touch with the rest of the Scudetto hopefuls, currently priced at *3.75 on the best football betting sites to retain their crown. The return of Italian international midfielder Claudio Marchisio has been a major boost for the Turin giants and with summer signing Mario Mandzukic now starting to find something like the form that caught the club’s eye in the first place, Juventus are crushing everything in their path to get back to where they believe is their rightful place, looking down at everyone from their lofty perch at the summit of the league table. With qualification into the last 16 of the Champions League already confirmed with one game to spare, Italy’s most successful club look like having another merry Christmas.
With the injury to Lulic causing concern, Lazio will also be without long term absentee Stefan de Vrij and midfield duo Stefano Mauri and Eddy Onazi, who are also currently on the treatment table. To make matters worse, German international striker Miroslav Klose has been heavily linked with a move to the MLS next season and his place in the team could now go to Serbian marksman Filip Djordjevic.
Massimo Allegri will be without his French midfielder Paul Pogba for the trip to Rome as he begins a one match suspension. His place in the starting XI may go to countryman Mario Lemina, who looks to have a bright future ahead of him and who is great value on the betting exchanges at *8.00 to be an anytime scorer on Friday. The dynamic duo of Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala should once again form the nucleus of the Old Lady’s attack.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Lazio (4-2-3-1) Marchetti; Radu, Mauricio, Gentiletti, Basta; Parolo, Biglia; Felipe Anderson, Milinkovic-Savic, Candreva; Djordjevic
Juventus (3-5-2) Buffon; Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli; Alex Sandro, Lemina, Marchisio, Sturaro, Lichtsteiner; Dybala, Mandzukic
HEAD TO HEAD
Stefano Pioli will not want to look at the record books either ahead of Friday’s big game, with Lazio having failed to beat Juventus in the league since December 2003. There have been victories for the capital club over Friday’s opponents in this time however, collecting three wins in the Coppa Italia. It’s a fixture that in recent seasons has turned into a bad tempered affair, with players being dismissed in their last four league meetings. Last season Juventus won both games comfortably and will start as firm favourites for this one.
Lazio 3.75 Draw 3.25 Juventus 2.10
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)