Building From The Back
After a solid start to the season, the Galletti are proving to be an extremely tough nut to crack after having picked up five draws in the opening eight rounds. With the best rearguard in the league alongside Inter and Fiorentina, the newly promoted side have found an important basis on which to mount their bid for Serie A survival.
As Giampiero Ventura’s side sit comfortably in ninth place, they will now be looking to muster up a few more victories as they look to put more even more ground between themselves and the bottom three. With the defence clearly up to scratch in the top flight, the Galletti will do well to address their lack of goals if they want to keep their place in the top ten.
With the Pugliese ready to welcome a struggling Lazio outfit, coach Ventura will be demanding a quick start from his men as they look to take advantage of the visitors condition following their midweek exploits in Europe.
Biancocelesti Struggling To Score
After sharing the spoils once again in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Sampdoria, the Biancocelesti still find themselves in difficulty as they continue to struggle in front of goal. With just seven goals in the opening eight rounds, Davide Ballardini’s side continue to let results slip despite creating numerous chances to see off their opposition. As the fixtures start to come thick and fast, the Aquilotti need to address their scoring problem or else they risk falling away from the European places as early as Christmas.
Following their Thursday night victory over Villarreal in the Europa League, Ballardini’s men may have found some much needed confidence on which to build upon as they look to drag themselves back up the table. However after having suffered fatigue earlier last month following their exploits in Europe, it remains to be seen what condition the Aquile will be in as they prepare for a tricky away fixture at the heel of the peninsula.
As the local airwaves start to criticise the coach for his timid approach in recent weeks, it will be interesting to see how Ballardini responds following the recent inability to grind out results. Should he fail to take the bull by the horns and send his men out fighting, the Ravenna born tactician will certainly come under more fire if Lazio fail to grab the three points on Sunday.
October 17 v Chievo (A) WON 2-1 (Serie A)
October 3 v Catania (H) DREW 0-0 (Serie A)
September 27 v Milan (A) DREW 0-0 (Serie A)
September 23 v Cagliari (H) LOST 1-0 (Serie A)
September 20 v Atalanta (H) WON 4-1 (Serie A)
October 22 v Villarreal (H) WON 2-1 (Europa League)
October 17 v Sampdoria (H) DREW 1-1 (Serie A)
October 4 v Fiorentina (A) – DREW 0-0 (Serie A)
October 1 v Levski Sofia (A) – WON 4-0 (Europa League)
September 27 v Palermo (H) – DREW 1-1 (Serie A)
Emmanuel Rivas is set to miss out after failing to shake off a recent groin injury. Ventura is set to choose between Sergio Almiron and Alessandro Gazzi in the middle of the park, whilst Riccardo Meggiorini is expected to get the nod ahead of Vitali Kutuzov.
Probable Starting XI – (4-4-2): Gillet; S.Masiello, Bonucci, Ranocchia, A.Masiello; Allegretti, Gazzi, Donati, Alvarez; Barreto, Meggiorini
Modibo Diakite is set to return to the starting XI after overcoming some muscle damage during the week. Ballardini will be without the services of Roberto Baronio for the first time this season after the veteran midfielder was awarded a dubious second yellow card in last weekend’s encounter with Sampdoria.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-1-2): Muslera, Kolarov, Siviglia, Diakite, Lichtsteiner; Mauri, Dabo, Brocchi; Matuzalem; Rocchi, Zarate
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Andrea Ranocchia (Bari)
With the likes of Juventus keeping tabs on the Under-21 international he has certainly proved to be up to standard in his first season in the Italian top flight. His performances at the back have been fundamental to the Galletti’s success so far this season. Should the 21-year-old take command once again on Sunday, Ventura’s side will be confident of notching up some more early points on their quest for Serie A survival.
Mauro Zarate (Lazio)
The Argentine was in destructive form on Thursday night’s victory over Villarreal. As ‘Maurito’ becomes ever more important for the success of the Aquilotti, the Galletti will do well to keep a close eye on him and limit his chances in attack. If the mercurial youngster is given space to run, it is more than likely he will punish the Galletti as Lazio search for some much needed points.
Given the current league position of the Biancocelesti, they will be desperate to come away from Puglia with a victory after having failed to win in the league since late August. After having dropped all three points only once this season however, I feel the Galletti have more than enough to hold their own in front of their home support.