Preview: Lazio vs. Monza

Still basking in the glow of Rome Derby success, Lazio welcome ambitious Monza to Stadio Olimpico on Thursday, when both teams play their penultimate fixture before the World Cup intervenes.

The last meeting between the clubs was back in 2006, and now 16 years on, the Biancocelesti are flying high in the Serie A standings, while their visitors have been adapting to life in the top flight.

Without perhaps their top two players, Lazio kicked off Sunday’s Derby della Capitale still in confident mood, despite previously seeing a nine-game unbeaten streak ended due to their second-half collapse against Salernitana.

Maurizio Sarri’s men made light of the glaring absences of injured captain Ciro Immobile and suspended midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, as they kept arch-rivals Roma at arm’s length throughout a close-fought encounter, which erupted into a touchline scrap near its conclusion.

Having stepped into Immobile’s boots as Lazio’s central striker, albeit filling the role in a very different manner, Felipe Anderson bagged what turned out to be the winner after ex-Roma winger Pedro stole the ball from the Giallorossi’s Roger Ibanez deep inside the penalty area.

Such a result helps the Aquile bounce back from successive defeats to Salernitana and Europa League opponents Feyenoord, the latter of which saw them drop down to the third-tier Europa Conference League.

Lazio start their journey in the competition Roma won last term next February, when they take on CFR Cluj in the playoff round, but between now and then, they have domestic business to attend to.

After facing an improving Monza side on Thursday evening, when they aim to maintain their lofty third-placed spot in the Serie A standings, the capital club then travel to Turin for their final game before the World Cup, against Juventus.

Though Sarri’s side have failed to win either of their last two home matches in the league, Lazio have gone undefeated in their last 15 fixtures against promoted sides before the Biancorossi ride into town. Furthermore, they have won 13 times in the process; keeping a clean sheet in each of the last three.

Following a flurry of three successive wins under new coach Raffaele Palladino – the first, a shock victory over Calcio royalty Juventus – Serie B playoff-winners Monza seemed to have established a foothold on the mountainous task of surviving their first top-flight season.

However, they had subsequently lost three on the spin in Serie A before Sunday’s visit from Verona, who are also struggling at the wrong end of the table.

After Hellas went down to 10 men just before the half-hour mark, Monza were able to take charge of the game, and a 76% share of possession finally translated into goals after the interval, when flying wing-back Carlos Augusto and substitute Andrea Colpani secured a 2-0 success for the Biancorossi.

The Lombardy club’s last 10 league goals have now been scored by nine different players – only Carlos Augusto has netted twice in that spell – as an ambitious recruitment campaign during the summer finally begins to bear fruit.

Not only has managerial novice Palladino integrated several signings and guided his charges away from the drop zone since being appointed in September, but they are also through to the last 16 of the Coppa Italia following a dramatic defeat of Udinese in the previous round.

Monza have been pitted against Juve again when the cup returns in January, but will first hope to conclude a historic 2022 by surprising Lazio and then taking three points from Salernitana on Sunday afternoon.

Lazio Serie A form:
Lazio form (all competitions):
Monza Serie A form:
Monza form (all competitions):

We say: Lazio 2-1 Monza
After their aberration against Salernitana, in-form Lazio got back on the winning trail in the best possible manner at the weekend, and after toppling bitter rivals Roma they can claim three points again on Thursday.

Monza certainly present a threat and stand a good chance of breaching the Aquile’s strong defence, but they are nonetheless set to return from the capital empty-handed.

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