Following a fine few days at home and in Europe, sixth-placed Lazio visit Bologna at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Sunday afternoon.
Victory in both the Derby della Capitale and over Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League sets the Aquile up for a shot at their third straight win, while their hosts are without victory in three games.
Lazio’s latest three-point haul, secured by goals from Toma Basic and Patric, saw Maurizio Sarri’s side run out 2-0 winners in their second straight success at Stadio Olimpico on Thursday.
In fact, the home side spurned several other scoring opportunities, including Pedro striking the crossbar midway through the second half, but they still recorded a first Europa League victory of the season having previously lost their opener away to Galatasaray.
Coming hot on the heels of last weekend’s Rome Derby defeat of arch-rivals Roma, the Aquile are now flying high in terms of confidence ahead of Serie A’s seventh round.
After more than a year without fans in Italian stadiums, a partial re-opening meant that the ‘Eternal City’ clash was set to a more familiar soundtrack than the echoing Olimpico of recent times. Also billed as a battle between the philosophies of Sarri and Jose Mourinho, the game was essentially decided by an early two-goal blast from Lazio, which gave them a lead they would never relinquish; as it finished 3-2 to the ‘home’ team at the final whistle.
Returning to action at Sunday lunchtime – a fact which has irked Sarri, given their continental commitments late into Thursday evening – the Biancocelesti now hope to continue their resurgence after a previous run which saw them both lose and draw twice since the start of September.
The advent of ‘Sarriball’ in the capital has been far from dull so far, as under the former Chelsea manager, Lazio have scored the most goals in the first half of matches in Serie A this season (nine). Furthermore, he has become the first coach without a single clean sheet in his first six league games in charge of the club since the turn of the century.
Following a solid start to the 2021-22 campaign, in which they had accumulated five more points than at the same stage last term, Bologna were brought down to earth with a bump by Serie B champions Empoli last time out, as they trailed within the opening minute and spent most of the game trying to recover.
Though he finally found the back of the net late on in the second half, star striker Marko Arnautovic also missed a penalty and hit the woodwork during an entertaining affair, in which the scoring was started by Kevin Bonifazi’s avoidable own goal.
A humbling 4-2 defeat in Tuscany continues a worrying trend for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s team, who have now conceded 14 goals in their first six games of a Serie A campaign for only the third time in their long history.
They do, however, remain unbeaten at the Dall’Ara so far and will fondly remember a win in their last league contest with Sunday’s visitors, which incidentally means they could now put together back-to-back victories over Lazio for the first time since 1997.
Precedent is not in the Rossoblu’s favour though, as they have beaten the capital club only once in their last nine Serie A meetings in Bologna – having failed to even score on five of those occasions.
Bologna Serie A form:
Lazio Serie A form:
Lazio form (all competitions):
We say: Bologna 1-2 Lazio
Neither side are stable enough defensively to sustain a prolonged period of form as things stand, which should make for an open encounter on Sunday afternoon.
Even after a midweek European fixture, though, Lazio should have enough gas in the tank to end Bologna’s undefeated start at Dall’Ara, and keep themselves in touch with the top clubs near the Serie A summit.