Trailing their visitors by seven points and four places in the Serie A standings, Lazio welcome Atalanta BC to Stadio Olimpico on Saturday evening.
Two of Calcio’s most entertaining teams convene in the capital, having racked up 90 league goals between them this term – including four during a dramatic draw in October’s reverse fixture.
Outscoring all but the league-leading Milan clubs so far this season, since the beginning of December, Lazio have recorded at least three goals in six separate Serie A matches – more than any other side during that time.
Indeed, ahead of their latest contest at the Olimpico, the Biancocelesti have also netted 10 times in their last three home league games; including four against Udinese, three versus Genoa and another triple in a 3-3 draw with Empoli.
Seventeen-goal top scorer and Capocannoniere co-leader Ciro Immobile has been on fire inside the opposition area of late, while the much-admired Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has posted more Serie A assists than any other midfielder this season, with eight.
However, defensive deficiencies have undermined Lazio’s progress under Maurizio Sarri, and a seventh league defeat of the season at the hands of Inter meant that the Roman club had picked up just a point from their post-Christmas fixtures before back-to-back wins over the past week.
Following last weekend’s routine victory over Salernitana, when Immobile added two further goals to his tally, the Aquile went on to secure an attractive Coppa Italia quarter-final tie with Milan next month by beating Udinese 1-0 in midweek – their star striker inevitably finding an extra-time winner.
As they embark on a more challenging run of fixtures over the coming month – after hosting Atalanta, they encounter Fiorentina and then Porto in the Europa League, as well as that cup clash with the high-flying Rossoneri – Sarri will be hoping to imbue his side with more consistency.
Recent form and past precedent suggests Lazio will have a tall task in overcoming Saturday’s visitors, though, as the Bergamaschi are the best away side in the division this term, and the hosts have gained only two points from the clubs’ last four meetings in Rome.
Unbeaten on the road in domestic competition, Atalanta journey to the capital with a remarkable record of nine wins and two draws from their 11 fixtures outside of Bergamo so far – accruing at least three away points more than any other team in the top flight.
In all, La Dea are unbeaten in their last 17 away league games – winning 13 – and the last team to surpass such a streak in Serie A was Juventus during an all-conquering spell in 2019.
Following the cancellation of their opening fixture, Atalanta belatedly began the year by beating an ill-prepared Udinese 6-2 in Udine, before progressing to the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia, where they will face fellow free spirits Fiorentina next month.
Before their quest for a first Coppa triumph since 1963 continues – having lost the final in two of the last three years – they must first maintain their fine form in the league, which most recently saw them hold champions and league leaders Inter to a goalless draw last Sunday.
While that means Atalanta have not scored in two of their last three league games – they had only failed to find the net in two of their previous 30 – Gian Piero Gasperini and company have scored in each of their last 11 Serie A encounters with Lazio.
The unlikely saviour of Marten de Roon scored a stoppage-time equaliser when the clubs last met back in Bergamo, as an entertaining 2-2 draw came to its dramatic climax, and the Dutch midfielder will be among several men aiming to add more goals to his club’s impressive tally.
Lazio Serie A form:
Lazio form (all competitions):
Atalanta BC Serie A form:
Atalanta BC form (all competitions):
We say: Lazio 1-2 Atalanta BC
Though goals have started to dry up since Duvan Zapata was struck down by injury – at least by their own free-scoring standards – Atalanta can edge out their hosts at the Olimpico thanks to a squad with several attacking options.
While Lazio are equally adept at finding the net, much relies on a few key cogs to turn smoothly, and the combination of defensive lapses and some integral absences could tilt the balance in their visitors’ favour.