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Andrew Murray On January - 14 - 2012

Serie A Week 18 Preview: Lazio vs. Atalanta

Lazio welcome Atalanta to the Eternal City hoping that last week’s humiliation at Siena was a freak performance. Down to 10-men after the sending-off of first choice ‘keeper Albano Bizzarri’s , the Biancocelesti were thrashed 4-0 by the relegation-threatened Robur.

It was nothing less than they deserved. Recklessness and defensive mistakes cost Lazio dearly and allowed Mattia Destro and Emanuele Calaio to grab two goals each. Andre Dias and Mobido Diakité will be welcomed back with open arms after last week’s failed Giuseppe Biava/Marius Stankevicius experiment and they will be tasked with keeping one of Serie A’s most in-form strikers at bay.

German Denis has been a revelation for Atalanta: he’s scored more than 50 per cent of the Begamo side’s league goals and looks a different player to the inconsistent forward who bumbled his way through spells with Napoli and Udinese. Denis’ burly, imposing playing style makes him a handful for any defender and he’ll be looking to continue a run that’s seen him score eight times in his last 10 games.

Atalanta’s real talking point, however, focuses on a player who hasn’t even played this season. Club idol Cristiano Doni’s continued implication in last season’s Calcioscommesse betting scandal continues to undermine the excellent progress Stefano Colantuono’s side have made this season. Atalanta have coped well so far but it’ll take continued strength and resolve to persevere as the club’s name is dragged through the mud.

Currently 13th in Serie A, Atalanta would be eighth if it weren’t for their pre-season points deduction. La Dea have performed admirably in the first season back in Serie A, but they’ve won just two of their last 10 games. That’s hardly poor form considering six of those games ended in draws, but Atalanta must improve at the Stadio Olimpico this weekend.

Lazio’s home record is hardly imposing: they’ve won just thrice on home soil this term, the last of which came on December 5th against struggling Novara. Atalanta aren’t blessed with a team of creative geniuses, but their core is fiercely combative and Schelotto and Bonaventura are dangerous out wide. Lazio will have their work cut-out in trying to neutralise their aggressive, effective opponents.

The hosts are fourth in Serie A but the chasing pack (Inter, Napoli and Roma) are gaining ground. The likes of Stefano Mauri, Christian Brocchi and Matuzalem are all missing, but ‘keeper Federico Marchetti will return to the XI in the form of his life and Miroslav Klose is always a threat up front. Add ingenuity of Hernanes coupled with Cristian Ledesma’s controlled play-making and you have one of the league’s most dangerous sides.

Expect a tight but entertaining contest on Sunday morning. Lazio will be desperate to rebound after last week’s shellacking, but Atalanta’s unwavering grinta makes them an incredibly tough proposition. Neither team is dying for a win, but a good result would do either the world of good.

Possible Line-ups:-

Lazio (4-3-1-2): Marchetti; Scaloni, Dias, Diakité, Radu; Gonzalez, Ledesma, Lulic; Hernanes; Klose, Rocchi.

Atalanta (4-4-1-1): Consigli; Masiello, Ferri, Manfredini, Peluso; Schelotto, Padoin, Cigarini, Bonaventura; Marilungo; Denis

Key Men:-

Lazio: German striker Miroslav Klose has been in excellent form since joining the Aquile last summer. Eight goals in 16 games make him one of the peninsula’s deadliest marksmen, and the razor-sharp forward’s goalscoring ability means he’s always a potential match-winner.

Atalanta: If Klose’s goals have been important to Lazio, German Denis’ strikes have been absolutely vital for Atalanta. Reborn in Bergamo, Denis has scored 12 of Atalanta’s 21 league goals this season and has lead the line with aplomb. If anyone’s going to pile further misery on Lazio, it’ll probably be Denis.

Andrew Murray

Scottish football writer with a thirst for knowledge and a passion for all things calcio. Visit for more from Andrew.

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