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

:Headline: Preview: Lazio vs. Udinese - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Coppa Italia clash between Lazio and Udinese, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Taking a break from the race for a European place, Lazio switch their attentions to the start of their Coppa Italia campaign on Tuesday, as they welcome Udinese to Stadio Olimpico.

Following a comfortable win at the weekend, the seven-time cup winners will take on their Fruilani counterparts for the right to meet Milan in the quarter-finals.


Match preview

Though plagued by inconsistency throughout their Serie A campaign, Lazio have been an entertaining proposition under Maurizio Sarri, and moved back into the top six with their 10th top-flight victory of the season on Saturday.

Having travelled south to meet rock-bottom Salernitana, the Biancocelesti surged into an early two-goal lead through star striker Ciro Immobile, who rose to the top of the Capocannoniere rankings as a result.

Returning to Rome with maximum points from a 3-0 win, Lazio now turn towards one of two chances to collect silverware this term - they meet Porto in the knockout stages of the Europa League next month - and will seek a third Coppa Italia triumph in the space of a decade.

The 2019 winners - who that year beat the Lombardy trio of Milan, Inter and Atalanta on their way to victory under former boss Simone Inzaghi - have won six of their 10 home contests in the league this term, scoring at a rate of nearly three goals per game at their capital headquarters.

Therefore, the visit of Serie A strugglers such as Udinese should hold no fears, as they aim for a place in the last eight. However, the last time the Bianconeri arrived at the Olimpico an incredible goalfest played out, with the visitors snatching a 99th-minute equaliser in December's 4-4 draw.

Having ended 2021 on a high by holding Scudetto contenders Milan to a draw and then posting consecutive four-goal wins - seeing off Crotone 4-0 in the cup before putting four past Cagliari without reply in Serie A - Udinese have begun the new year with two defeats from a tough pair of fixtures.

Saturday's 2-0 reverse at Juventus - where the squad was filled out with several primavera players - came on the back of a crushing 6-2 home loss to Atalanta, in which Gabriele Cioffi's side had emerged from quarantine just hours beforehand.

A COVID-19 outbreak at the club saw their scheduled year-opener against Fiorentina cancelled, after a pre-Christmas clash with Salernitana was postponed due to the effects of the virus on the Campanian club.

Cioffi will be seeking a return to some sort of normality, then, when his squad roll in to Rome this week, but that win in Cagliari came only after four defeats and three draws from their previous seven matches on the road - and losing in Turin just continues that trend.

Nevertheless, Udinese still sit outside the Serie A drop zone and have a game or two in hand on most of their survival rivals, so they can have a free swing at upsetting the odds to claim a first Coppa Italia - having been finalists in the competition's inaugural edition 100 years ago.

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

Udinese Coppa Italia form:
  • W
  • W

Udinese form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L

Team News

Coming shortly after the club's last league outing, Lazio boss Maurizio Sarri still has concerns regarding the fitness of several players before Tuesday's tie. Italy defender Francesco Acerbi is set to remain out of contention due to a muscular injury, while his fellow centre-back Stefan Radu is also a doubt.

In midfield, Ivory Coast intenational Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro remains away at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Toma Basic was missing at the weekend after picking up a knock.

Veteran duo Lucas Leiva and Pepe Reina - more often than not consigned to the bench these days - are due a run-out, while outcast striker Vedat Muriqi could potentially make a final appearance for the Aquile should Ciro Immobile be rested.

Udinese, meanwhile, will hope to have more men back to full fitness after their spell in quarantine, and of the 12 players who previously tested positive for COVID-19 most should now be available.

Rodrigo Becao returns from suspension and could start, but Gabriele Cioffi has lost another Brazilian centre-back, Samir, to Premier League side Watford. His replacement, Croatian defender Filip Benkovic, recently arrived on a free transfer from Leicester City and is another contender to be involved.

In order to protect Portuguese striker Beto, who has been one of Serie A's in-form strikers over recent weeks, Cioffi may turn to Isaac Success or Ilija Nestorovski up front, but Roberto Pereyra is still out with a shoulder injury.

Lazio possible starting lineup:
Reina; Lazzari, Patric, Vavro, Hysaj; Leiva, Cataldi, Alberto; Zaccagni, Muriqi, Anderson

Udinese possible starting lineup:
Padelli; Nuytinck, Becao, Perez; Udogie, Arslan, Jajalo, Molina; Pussetto, Deulofeu; Success


We say: Lazio 3-1 Udinese

Though lacking the squad depth of some of the other top-six contenders, Lazio can afford to rotate their resources and still come out on top at the Olimpico, given Udinese's recent predicament.

The visitors' back three will have their hands full with Sarri's customary attacking trident, and their weaknesses are set to be exploited on more than one occasion.







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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Inter Milan21155151163550
2AC Milan22153447252248
3Napoli22144439152446
4Atalanta BCAtalanta21126344261842
5Juventus22125534211341
6Fiorentina21112840291135
7Roma2211293628835
8Lazio2210574639735
9Hellas VeronaHellas Verona239684338533
10Torino219482920931
11Empoli228593543-829
12SassuoloSassuolo227783837128
13Bologna2283112937-827
14Udinese215883136-523
15SpeziaSpezia2264122342-1922
16Sampdoria2255122940-1120
17VeneziaVenezia2146111938-1918
18CagliariCagliari2237122143-2216
19Genoa2219122045-2512
20Salernitana2132161349-3610
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