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Aug 28, 2021 at 5.30pm UK
Immobile (5', 15', 45+2'), Anderson (47'), Hysaj (70'), Alberto (85')
FT(HT: 3-1)
Verde (4')
Erlic (45+1'), Gyasi (49')
Amian (54')

Preview: Lazio vs. Spezia - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Lazio vs. Spezia - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Lazio and Spezia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Following their first-day victory last weekend, Lazio welcome Spezia to Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, seeking to continue their positive start to the Serie A season.

While Maurizio Sarri's men overcame the shock of conceding an early goal to see off promoted Empoli last time out, their visitors let three points slip from their grasp at Cagliari.

Match preview

Just days after opening their league campaign with a comeback victory at Stadio Carlo Castellani, news that prized forward Joaquin Correa had finally completed his switch to Inter left a bitter taste in the mouths of Lazio fans throughout Rome and beyond. His departure comes just weeks after the Biancocelesti lost their manager Simone Inzaghi to the Nerazzurri, so will prompt questions about the club's ambitions this term.

Nonetheless, they fared well enough without the Argentina international last week, as Correa's erstwhile attacking colleagues Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic found the net in a 3-1 away win against Empoli, after the Serie B champions had surprisingly gone ahead through Filippo Bandinelli's fourth-minute opener.

Incidentally, Milinkovic-Savic's strike helped him join the club of players to score in at least seven consecutive Serie A seasons, and the midfield mainstay has been an integral part of Lazio's revived fortunes in recent years.

While Maurizio Sarri has inherited a side that were regular top-five finishers under Inzaghi, before ending last season in sixth place, recruitment has been restricted at a cash-strapped club this summer. Therefore, it is essential that the Aquile take advantage of less challenging opponents such as Empoli - and now Spezia - particularly with Milan and Roma to come next month.

Lazio have won both of their two top-flight encounters with Spezia so far - coming out on top at home and away last season by a 2-1 scoreline - and, together with champions Inter, are one of two teams still unbeaten at home in 2021.

In all, their Serie A record as hosts this year features 11 wins and just a solitary draw - so Sarri will expect his team to extend that streak against a modest club that made their Serie A debut just last year.

Seeking to build on a fine first season in the Italian elite, despite losing their manager, Spezia were unable to hold on to a two-goal lead in Sardinia last week, as they started the 2021-22 campaign with a draw.

Led by captain Joao Pedro - who scored twice in the second half - Cagliari fought back to salvage a 2-2 draw with the Ligurian outfit, leaving new coach Thiago Motta to rue a missed opportunity to start with a valuable victory.

That capitulation continues a worrying trend for a team which started so unexpectedly well last season, before just avoiding being sucked into the relegation scrap by late spring. Spezia have now conceded in each of their last 17 Serie A games - with 36 goals leaked during that spell, at an average of more than two per game.

A fault which started to develop under previous boss Vincenzo Italiano - who left to take up an offer from Fiorentina earlier this summer - means that Motta has it all to do if the Aquilotti are to replicate an historic first top-flight campaign.

There has been much change in the playing staff too, as several squad members' loan contracts have expired and some veterans have been released, while star striker M'Bala Nzola has apparently fallen out of favour. In fact, Spezia named only five men on a depleted bench in Cagliari, indicating the paucity of their current resources.

It was a new-look attack which helped Motta's men to breach the Isolani's back line twice - and to a 3-1 Coppa Italia win over Pordenone previously - and they will have to show such potency again at the Olimpico unless they can tighten up at the back.

Lazio Serie A form:
  • W

Lazio form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W

Spezia Serie A form:
  • D

Spezia form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • D

Team News

Lazio may be forced to make a defensive change for their second outing of the new league campaign, as Luiz Felipe suffered a muscular injury during training this week and his fitness must be re-assessed ahead of the game. Either Stefan Radu or Patric would be most likely to step into the back four if required.

Having completed the transfer of Croatia international midfielder Toma Basic from Bordeaux, Maurizio Sarri could be tempted to throw him straight into the starting XI on Saturday, and the 24-year-old could be competing with Danilo Cataldi for a place in the engine room, as the latter has now returned from a muscle strain and is set to be named in the squad.

Up front, Ciro Immobile will be joined by two wide strikers - in the absence of the now-departed Joaquin Correa, most probably Felipe Anderson and Pedro. The former Chelsea winger made the rare switch from bitter rivals Roma last week and is in line for a second successive start.

Spezia, meanwhile, saw Viktor Kovalenko and Jacopo Sala take part in training after being sidelined through injury last week and both are contenders to feature for a side which named only 16 players in their squad at Cagliari. Midfielder Leo Sena is still missing, though, after suffering complications following COVID-19 infection.

Newly-acquired teenage talent Janis Antiste - who signed from Toulouse this week, having made his Ligue 1 debut at just 17 - is a potential candidate for a place in Thiago Motta's probable front three.

That attacking trio should also contain Roma primavera product Daniele Verde, who scored a stunning bicycle kick against Lazio last season.

Lazio possible starting lineup:
Reina; Lazzari, Radu, Acerbi, Hysaj; Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Basic; Pedro, Immobile, Anderson

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Zoet; Nikolaou, Erlic, Hristov; Amian, Bastoni, Maggiore, Ferrer; Verde, Gyasi, Colley

We say: Lazio 2-0 Spezia

The prospect of a Spezia side who generally prefer going forward than defending should suit Lazio's forwards - as space to exploit can allow both Immobile and Anderson to thrive.

Having conceded, on average, around twice a game in 2021, Spezia are set for a season of struggle, so may enjoy better fortunes against the likes of Udinese and Venezia, who they meet after the upcoming international break.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data

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