Thursday, May 8, 2014

Inter-Lazio Preview: Europa League showdown at San Siro

Inter striker Rodrigo Palacio

Inter can move a step closer to sealing European qualification with victory over Lazio at San Siro on Saturday.

Both sides are pushing for a place in the Europa League next season, with the Nerazzurri occupying fifth spot in Serie A with just two games remaining.

Lazio, meanwhile, are in with a chance of claiming the expected additional qualifying position after Napoli and Fiorentina - placed third and fourth in the table - contested the Coppa Italia final.

Inter failed to challenge for the title in Walter Mazzarri's first season in charge, but have consistently been in the top five throughout the campaign.

Edy Reja's side, meanwhile, have spent the majority of their season in mid-table, but they missed a chance to move up to joint sixth and close the gap on Saturday's opponents to two points after being left needing a stoppage-time goal from Stefano Mauri to salvage a 3-3 draw with Verona last time out.

However, the Rome club remain just four points adrift of Mazzarri's men - meaning a win at San Siro would give them a real chance of snatching fifth place.

Recent history is on Lazio's side too, as they have won the last four meetings between the teams.

The Nerazzurrigo into the fixture looking to shake off the disappointment of losing to city rivals AC Milan last weekend and forward Rodrigo Palacio has called on them to get back to winning ways to all but seal their Europa League berth.

"First and foremost, it's important to beat Lazio so that we get into Europe. There are a host of clubs close behind us, so we have to win," he told the club's official website.

"It's fundamental [we qualify for Europe]. That's the objective we set ourselves. There are two tough games left to play now and we need to play well in them to achieve our objective."

Lazio travel to Milan in good form having lost just one of their last six Serie A matches and will have fond memories of the corresponding fixture last season, which they won 3-1 almost exactly a year ago.

Reja will be without midfielder Senad Lulic after his dismissal against Verona, while Helder Postiga (knee), Emiliano Alfaro (knee) and Ederson (hamstring) are also missing.

Striker Miroslav Klose did return in Monday's draw from the bench, though, and he could start.

Inter midfielder Esteban Cambiasso serves a one-match suspension after his booking against Milan, while Juan Jesus (knee) and McDonald Mariga (muscle) are Mazzarri's only injury concerns ahead of a game that will mark club legend Javier Zanetti's final San Siro appearance before retirement.

Inter-Lazio Preview: Europa League showdown at San Siro Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Unknown


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