Lazio vs Inter Preview: Recent Form, Team News, Key Battle, Previous Encounter & More

?Lazio will host ?Inter at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, in what promises to be a ferocious battle for Serie A’s last remaining UEFA Champions League place – with champions ?Juventus, runners-up ?SSC Napoli and Lazio’s city rivals Roma having already qualified for Europe’s premier club competition.

On the plus side from an Inter perspective, their fate is still in their hands. On the minus side, they face a very tough task in Rome, not least because they trail their hosts by three points.

Because the two sides drew 0-0 at the San Siro earlier this season – and their head-to-head record is the first criterion used to separate sides level on points in Serie A – a win for Inter will see them leapfrog Lazio, despite the Roman side’s superior goal difference.

However, Lazio will still likely be the more confident of the two sides, seeing as they need only a point and haven’t lost at home since early March, when ?Juventus won 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on their way to achieving a seventh successive Scudetto.

How Inter must rue conceding two late goals to Juve, and scoring just once against Sassuolo despite enjoying 74% possession – those two recent defeats at the San Siro now look extremely costly in the race for fourth place.

Nevertheless, the visitors may draw some encouragement from the way Austrian side FC Red Bull Salzburg hammered I Biancocelesti in the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final in April. Unfortunately for Inter, that match was in Austria – Lazio won the home leg 4-2.


Recent Form

SS Lazio v UC Sampdoria - Serie A

Since falling to Juve at home, Lazio have enjoyed a ten-match unbeaten run in Serie A – including a 4-0 thrashing of Sampdoria in April.

Sunday’s hosts have scored freely for most this season, netting a staggering 87 league goals – three more than the champions. Nevertheless, I Biancocelesti’s impressive run has stalled in the last two matches – they were held 1-1 at home by Atalanta and could only draw 2-2 with struggling Crotone.

Inter will no doubt be encouraged by their last result away from the San Siro – a 4-0 win over 15th-placed Udinese, although Lazio are likely to be a very different proposition on Sunday.

However, that thumping victory was sandwiched between two disastrous home defeats – I Nerazzurri ?lost 3-2 against Juventus and 2-1 against Sassuolo. Before the Juve defeat, Inter had won two matches in a row – a 4-0 thrashing of Cagliari and a narrow 2-1 victory over Chievo.


Team News

FC Crotone v SS Lazio - Serie A

Lazio will definitely be without midfielder Luis Alberto on Sunday, who is ruled out with a thigh injury. More disappointingly for manager Simone Inzaghi, it seems increasingly unlikely that striker Ciro Immobile will be available, having suffered a hamstring strain against Torino in April.

Immobile is currently the leading scorer in Serie A with 29 goals – although Inter striker Mauro Icardi is just one goal behind him and could win the race for the Capocannoniere on Sunday.

Like Immobile, Lazio midfielder Marco Parolo is also recovering from a hamstring strain, while left back Jordan Lukaku (Manchester United striker Romelu’s younger brother) may also be unavailable because of a muscle injury.

According to the latest reports, Inter have no current injury worries for Sunday, while neither side has any players unavailable through suspension.


Key Battle: Mauro Icardi vs Stefan de Vrij

FC Internazionale v US Sassuolo - Serie A

The statistics tell you all you need to know. Argentina striker Icardi has netted 28 times in the league for his club this season – more than twice as many as the next-highest Inter goalscorer, and nearly half of Inter’s Serie A goals all season.

Quite simply, the visitors will most likely need him to get the better of Lazio centre back Stefan de Vrij and do what he does best – find the back of the net.

Against a Lazio side which has shipped an extraordinary 46 league goals this season, Icardi may fancy his chances.


Previous Encounter: Lazio 1-2 Inter (May 2015)

Inter midfielder Hernanes.

In case Lazio feel at all complacent about their prospects against Inter on Sunday, they would do well to cast their minds back three years to another home clash with the Milanese side, in which Hernanes fired the visitors to victory.

The Brazilian midfielder scored twice against his former club, cancelling out Antonio Candreva’s sixth-minute opener with a free kick in the 26th minute, before winning a one-on-one duel with Lazio’s substitute keeper Etrit Berisha in the 84th minute.

It could have been an even worse scoreline for the hosts, seeing as they had two players sent off – including keeper Federico Marchetti. In fact, Berisha’s first act after coming on was to save Mauro Icardi’s penalty, which Marchetti had just conceded.

While the hosts may feel proud that they held out for more than twenty minutes with nine men before conceding Inter’s winner, they will no doubt need to show far greater discipline on Sunday to avoid another home defeat against the Nerazzurri.


Prediction

FC Crotone v SS Lazio - Serie A

Even without their leading scorer Immobile, Lazio must surely still be the favourites to secure fourth place in Serie A.

Both sides have stuttered in recent matches, but the task facing Inter – in the hostile atmosphere of the Stadio Olimpico, and on the back of two defeats in three matches – still looks extremely daunting.

Of course, if Inter score an early goal, their chances of success will dramatically increase, as Lazio will be forced to attack – and I Biancocelesti have comfortably the worst defensive record in Serie A’s top eight.

However, if they fail to score that early goal, I Nerazzurri will likely have to settle for fifth place this season.

Predicted Result: Lazio 1-1 Inter

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Kwadwo Asamoah Confirms Juventus Departure Ahead of Expected Summer Move to Arch Rivals Inter

?Kwadwo Asamoah has released an emotional statement confirming that he is leaving ?Juventus, with a move to ?Inter expected to go through in due course.

The Ghanaian international is out of contract this summer and is all set to leave Juventus after this weekend’s final game against Hellas Verona, with a move to I Nerazzurri ?dependent only a medical.

In a statement released via his Twitter account, Asamoah revealed the difficulty of the decision and his sadness at leaving Juve.

“Even though Juventus offered me a new contract, I humbly and respectfully opted to commit myself to a club elsewhere,” said Asamoah.

”It will be unbearably austere to play against Juventus in future but I had to make this new commitment purely to the interest of my family and it is my hope and wish that the fans would understand and accept the decision.

“Every single person at the club will always have a special place in my heart, from the coaches to my teammates, through to the staff, and most importantly the wonderful and vociferous supporters.”

Asamoah moved to Juventus from Udinese in 2012 and was a regular in his first two seasons in Turin, but he missed most of the 2014/15 campaign with a severe knee injury.

He returned to action late in that season but has always struggled for regular game time since, never making more than 20 Serie A appearances in each of the next three seasons.

It’s fair to say that Asamoah’s farewell will be considerably overshadowed by the departure of Gianluigi Buffon, ?who will also be playing his last Juventus game this weekend.

Buffon has been at Juventus for 17 years and has made more than 650 appearances for I Bianconeri.

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Inter to Target Man City Star Ilkay Gundogan If They Qualify for Next Season’s Champions League

??Inte?r are reportedly considering a summer move for ?Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan – but only if the Nerazzurri qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The report, which comes from ?Corriere Dello Sport, suggests that a big name midfielder will be Inter’s top priority should they finish in the top four of ?Serie A, with Luciano Spalletti’s side needing a win away at Lazio to qualify for the competition.

Southampton v Manchester City - Premier League

Though Gundogan appears to be Inter’s top target for the coming transfer window, the club have drawn up a shortlist of midfielders who could potentially fill this hole in the side. Other names on the list include ?Bayern Munich man Arturo Vidal, Roma’s Kevin Strootman and ?Real Madrid star Mateo Kovacic, who played for Inter before moving to Madrid in 2015.

Signing any one of these midfielders would require a hefty transfer fee, which is reportedly why Champions League qualification is so pivotal to any transfer deal going ahead.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-LEGANES

Gundogan joined City for £21m in June 2016, making him the club’s first signing under Pep Guardiola. The German has fought through injury problems to make 48 appearances in all competitions for Guardiola’s side this season, playing a big role in their stunning Premier League title win. 

Gundogan has also shown a knack for scoring in important games, with four of his goals this campaign coming against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United. 

In spite of this, Gundogan’s position at the club could still be in doubt, with Guardiola looking to strengthen his squad ahead of City’s title defence next season.

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Lautaro Martinez’s Agent ‘99%’ Sure Argentine Striker Will Join Inter Ahead of Medical

Lautaro Martinez’s agent has all but confirmed that his client will joint ?Inter in July, saying that a deal is “99%” complete.

Rolando Zarate told FCInterNews that he and Martinez would fly to Italy for a medical ahead of the move, with Martinez likely to make the move in July.

“We’re waiting until we can travel so Lautaro can take his medicals,” Zarate said?. “There’s a rough agreement, it’s almost done. There are some details missing but we just have to take a flight to confirm everything. There’s no certain date yet though.

“We’re just waiting for confirmation, the medical could be in a week or 10 days, we just need a phone call before we head out.”

Racing Club are resigned to losing Martinez but they had hoped he would stay at the club until January to help them with their Copa Libertadores campaign.

Racing have qualified for the last 16 of the South American Champions League, which runs until November, but Zarate said that Inter had refused to let Martinez stay until then.

“Racing have qualified for the Copa Libertadores round of 16, and Lautaro has been one of the best players in the competition, which is why they tried to find a solution with Inter to keep the player for the coming months,” he said.

Racing Club v Universidad de Chile - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2018

“It’s not possible though, the Nerazzurri said no. That decision was communicated to Racing, so it’s a very difficult hypothesis.”

Zarate seemed very confident that the deal would be completed in due course.

“It’s 99 per cent done, the deal is more than secure,” he added. “I can’t say 100 per cent, but that’s only because we’re waiting for that call to go to Italy and define everything.

Martinez has scored 18 goals in 28 appearances for Racing this season, including five in the Copa Libertadores.

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Tottenham Join Liverpool in Race For Italy Under-21 Star as Mauricio Pochettino Asks for Backing

?Tottenham have joined ?Liverpool in the £45m race for Cagliari starlet Nicolò Barella, although ?Inter remain firm favourites to sign the 21-year-old midfielder

Barella has been a standout performer in his breakthrough season for the 16th-placed Serie A side with six goals and one assist in 33 league starts. His form hasn’t gone unnoticed and a number of clubs have been linked with a move for the Italian youth international, including ?Juventus and Liverpool

SSC Napoli v Cagliari Calcio - Serie A

Calciomercato report that Tottenham are interested in the youngster, but Cagliari’s president, Tommaso Giulini revealed in April that the club value Barella, who recently signed a one-year contract extension, at upwards of €50m. 

“I’ve read everything about his renewal, but we didn’t do it to raise his price,” he told Rai Radio (via TalkSPORT) 

“Nicolo deserved a better salary and an extra year on his contract. We want to grow, improve and do everything to keep Nicolo another season. Of course, if there were offers that we couldn’t refuse, upwards of €50m [£44m], then we could discuss it. We’d take the €50m [£44m] and strengthen the team.”

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino’s recent comments regarding his and the club’s future have sounded a warning to club bosses – particularly Daniel Levy – that they risk losing him if the north London side continue to lag behind their rivals in the transfer market. 

The capture of Barella could be the statement of intent needed to persuade the Argentine into remaining with the club, but, according to the report, the player would prefer a move to Inter. 

The 21-year-old is said to be at the top of Luciano Spalletti’s summer wish list, and I Nerazzurri are ready to offer Cagliari a player plus cash swap deal in order to remain within FFP regulations. 

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