Serie A Week 24 – 13 Feb 2017 (19.45 UK)
Lazio – Milan
Stadio Olimpico

Lazio vs AC Milan Preview and Prediction

Lazio face a Milan side that looks eons removed from the team that beat Juventus in Doha just before Christmas in this head-to-head for Europe.

Despite a rollercoaster of a win over Bologna in midweek, the Rossoneri faithful are under no illusions about their team’s current predicament, summed up not only by the four straight competitive losses that had preceded it, but also by the line-up Coach Vincenzo Montella is expected to roll with next week.

Much has been made of how the Rossoneri somehow overcame two sendings off to earn a last-gasp winner from Mario Pasalic at the Stadio Dall’Ara in Wednesday’s rescheduled Week 18 tie. The problem is, their squad now looks even more stretched than before, the likes of Cristian Zapata – who was horrific against Sampdoria – and Leonel Vangioni – who Montella doesn’t seem to want to touch with a ten-foot barge pole – lining up in what looks like a very creaky back line.

Alessio Romagnoli joined Mattia De Sciglio and Giacomo Bonaventura on the treatment table, with Gabriel Paletta and Juraj Kucka suspended.

Even then, beating Bologna is hardly the stuff of legend, especially as the Felsinei were coming off a 1950s-like thrashing (at home) at the hands of Napoli. Their 7-1 loss was matched by Lazio’s 6-2 mauling of Pescara, with Marco Parolo suddenly rediscovering his touch with four sensational strikes.

Though he scored at the Dall’Ara, Pasalic doesn’t look like he has either the ball smarts or the tackling proficiency to be of much use to Milan, and neither does Andrea Bertolacci (who scored in this fixture last season), leaving young gun Manuel Locatelli to do it all himself. He’s only 19, and understandably dipping a bit from his early-season performances.

Lazio, for their part, return home with a full complement, with Lucas Biglia, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Parolo expected to boss the midfield. Savic has also been a pest in the box, prompting a number of sources to link him to Juventus. Another Lazio (re)discovery, Keita Balde Diao, made a strong impression when he returned from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Much was made of the Biancocelesti’s two straight Serie A losses, especially as their 2-0 defeat by Juventus had been preceded by a strong run of form. Fans had begun to focus on Felipe Anderson, who has dipped since December and has only scored twice in league play this season.

Simone Inzaghi’s response has been drastic – they completely outplayed Inter for over 40 minutes last week, taking home a priceless Coppa Italia win thanks to a sensational Felipe Anderson performance.

The feeling is that, as iffy as the defence can be (even with Stefan de Vrij back), the Aquile can still keep flying this season. Can the Rossoneri keep up?

As well as Coach Montella has done, he has racked up 40 points this season, just one more than the much-reviled Sinisa Mihajlovic did after 23 games last season.

Player to Watch: Gianluca Lapadula (Milan) – While Carlos Bacca has looked as lonely as Eminem in 8 Mile up front, Lapadula has, at least, fought hard for the cause every time. Having put in a poor shift against Sampdoria two weeks ago, however, more is expected of him if he is to dethrone Bacca, who has earned a number of barbs from Coach Montella.

Form Guide: Milan (D L L L W), Lazio (W W L L W)

Last season: Lazio 1-3 Milan

Stat fact: Lazio have beaten Milan only once in their last eight Serie A meetings, home and away, losing four along with three 1-1 stalemates. Before last season’s 3-1 victory here, the Rossoneri were without a success at the Olimpico since November 2009.

Top Tip: The Overs. Milan’s defence is awful, but Lazio have sometimes played into their visitors’ hands by opting for an all-out attack. That 2-1 win over Atalanta could have really gone either way.

Lazio (probable): Marchetti; Basta, De Vrij, Hoedt, Radu; Parolo, Biglia, Milinkovic-Savic; Felipe Anderson, Immobile, Lulic

Suspended: None

Milan (probable): Donnarumma, Abate, Gomez, Zapata, Vangioni; Bertolacci, Locatelli, Pasalic; Suso, Lapadula, Deulofeu

Suspended: Paletta, Kucka