After enduring a faltered start to the new season, Lazio begin their Champions League journey tonight when they face Atletico Madrid at the Stadio Olimpico.
At the start of the season, defeat to lower mid-table sides like Lecce and Genoa dampened Lazio’s hopes of mustering an early campaign Scudetto charge. While the 2-1 victory against current league title holders Napoli injected optimism into the wounded side, the Bianconcelesti failed to push on the momentum when they faced Juventus in the last match. Dusan Vlahovic opened the scoring in the 10th minute for the Bianconeri and they were able to reinstate their lead soon after Luis Alberto thumped in the equaliser in the 64th minute. Federico Chiesa returned from injury and extended Juventus’ lead late on in the match, sending Lazio tumbling down the table to 15th place.
Pundits believe that Group E of this season’s Champions League is set to produce some fireworks as Lazio, Atletico Madrid, Feyenoord and Celtic share similar team strengths and weaknesses amongst their ranks. It will be a massive job for Maurizio Sarri to lead his side and taking into account recent performances, Lazio would be lucky to come away with a point.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid have made an inconsistent start to the new season according to their standards, recording only two wins, a draw and a defeat from their first five league matches. Los Colchoneros looked a potentially threatening side when they slotted in seven goals against Rayo Vallecano but like tonight’s opposition, the La Liga side too couldn’t press on their momentum and fell prey to an inspired Valencia team who defeated them 3-0 on Saturday.
Diego Simeone will hope to secure a win today so as to keep his players motivated for the upcoming Madrid derby against a flawless Real Madrid side. While Atleti have clinched the Europa League a number of times in their history, they failed to prosper in the Champions League front despite several inspiring attempts. Only time will tell if they can progress and make the most of this year’s UCL.
Results from their last five matches across all competitions:
L W L L W
L W W D W
Maurizio Sarri is set to have his full squad available for the clash tonight. Matteo Guendouzi may get his first nod to the start as he has been waiting for one since making the move to Lazio from Marseille this summer.
Ciro Immobile will start in his usual striker role flanked by Felipe Anderson and Mattia Zaccagni.
As for Atletico Madrid, Thomas Lemar is set to be sidelined long-term with an Achilles tendon injury. Koke and Rodrigo De Paul are set to miss the match.
Diego Simeone might give the nod to start to either Javi Galan or Samuel Lino instead of Rodrigo Riquelme.
Lazio (4-3-3): Provedel; Marusic, Casale, Romagnoli, Hysaj; Kamada, Guendouzi, Alberto; Anderson, Immobile, Zaccagni
Atletico Madrid (5-3-2): Oblak; Molina, Azpilicueta, Witsel, Savic, Galan; Saul, Barrios, Llorente; Griezmann, Morata
Trambak Bhattacherjee | GIFN