The highly anticipated final clash in Matchday 10 of the Italian Serie A TIM takes place today, as Lazio host Inter at the Stadio Olimpico. Third vs fourth, the Biancocelesti vs the Nerazzurri, this is a massively important game for either side.
A rough start to the season for both sides, Lazio and Inter are looking to have finally found their stride in the 2018/19 season. The question is, who will be able to come out on top in this match? This is the chance at redemption and revenge for Lazio after that final 2017/18 Matchday loss (in which saw them be relegated to 5th place and the Europa League while Inter secured 4th and Champions League), whilst for Inter, a chance to rebound after a loss and move up in the standings (after Napoli drew Roma yesterday, they can move into joint-second place).
A reunion for former Lazio players of Stefan de Vrij, Keita Balde Diao, and Antonio Candreva, we will see how they perform if they make an appearance at the Stadio Olimpico today; de Vrij seems more than likely to start alongside Milan Skriniar in the center of defense, while Candreva and Keita will likely start from the bench.
Inter (3rd in the Serie A TIM)
Eerily close statistics, Luciano Spalletti's Inter come into this match just one point ahead of Simone Inzaghi's side. They have a record of 6W-1D-2L (19 points) and have scored 13 goals whilst conceding 6. Their two losses have surprisingly come against Sassuolo and Parma - two sides who had a very good start and surprised the world of football this season - and their leading scorer is Argentine Mauro Icardi - the 9th leading scorer in the club's history with 4 goals in 7 matches.
In their last three matches in all competitions, Inter have defeated SPAL away from home by a score of 2-1, won the Derby della Madonnina against Milan in the final minute (1-0), and lost to Barcelona at the Camp Nou 2-0 in the Champions League - a record of 2W-0D-1L.
Injuries - Radja Nainggolan will be unavailable due to an ankle injury picked up against Milan in the Derby della Madonnina victory.
Probable Starting XI - (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; Vrsaljko, de Vrij, Skriniar, Asamoah; Brozovic, Vecino; Politano, Borja Valero, Perisic; Icardi.
Lazio (4th in Serie A TIM)
On the other hand, Lazio have a record of 6W-0D-3L (18 points), scoring the same amount of goals as Inter (13) whilst conceding three more (9). Their three losses have come against Napoli (2-1), Juventus (2-0), and Roma (3-1) - three top sides in the league and leading the scoring charts for the club is no other than Italian international Ciro Immobile: the prolific scorer has 6 goals so far this campaign in 9 matches (just under half the goals scored by the club).
In their last three matches in all competitions, Lazio has secured all possible 9 points - a victory before the international break against Fiorentina (2-0), followed by a 2-0 triumph of Parma, and a dominant 3-1 performance over Marseille in the Europa League.
Injuries - Riza Durmisi is unavailable, as he continues to recover from his dislocated elbow in Matchday 2 of the Europa League against Eintracht Frankfurt; Lucas Leiva has an injury to his thigh, picked up the last match against Marseille, that will keep him sidelined today.
Probable Starting XI - (3-5-2): Strakosha; Luiz Felipe, Acerbi, Radu; Marusic, Parolo, Badelj, Milinkovic-Savic, Lulic; Caicedo, Immobile.
Due to the fine form and combination of attacking duo Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo, they will likely start again (keeping Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa to the bench), attempting to cause a ruckus to Inter's back-end; Croatian international Milan Badelj will likely replace the injured Lucas Leiva in an attempt to control the midfield in this match; and Luiz Felipe returns to play on the right side of the three-man defense.
Lazio, hosting Inter, will come away with a victory - a scoreline of 2-1. Finally picking up form this year - returning to their last year selfs - I expect Inzaghi's side to come out hungrier than ever for these 3 points. After working so hard last year for the Champions League, to be eliminated out of the race in the final match of the season - you can bet that this is weighing down tremendously on the players of the biancocelesti side, as they seek revenge.
As hopes may never reach their potential, I can give the benefit of the doubt to Inter, stating that a draw is the second possibility of an outcome in this match (2-2). With a squad set to go far in not only the Serie A TIM but the Champions League, if they are able to play together and break down Lazio on the flanks, they will cause a tremendous problem. Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi are always a threat - Luiz Felipe, Francesco Acerbi, and Stefan Radu will have to stay on their toes and remain focused as they will be tested all night.