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Lazio-Milan Preview: Angry Birds

Last week, Lazio suffered back to back defeats from the two Milan sides. First, a 2-1 loss to Inter in the league to bump them down to 5th place, then a 3-1 loss to Milan to take them out of the Coppa Italia. It wasn’t a good week. So the Eagles from the capital went to Chievo with vengeance and punished the Flying Donkeys with a 3-0 defeat and took their 4th place spot back with the help of Inter’s Lecce loss, too. Now they will turn their anger back toward Milan with revenge in mind as they host the Rossoneri at the Stadio Olimpico tomorrow. Beware of angry birds.


One would think that this match could be a little predictable, seeing as how it will be played all of 6 days later. But things change quite quickly in football, and sometimes a little more quickly during the January transfer market. For Milan, for example, one Alexander Merkel was injured during the Lazio game last week, and so we won’t have him in the squad for another 8 weeks. We also picked up one Maxi Lopez on loan from Catania, so technically, he could feature, and is thus an unknown for both sides, really.

We'll miss you, too, Cissé, but our clean sheet record won't!

Lazio, on the other hand, sent Cissé to QPR in the Premier League, which means their guaranteed goal is no longer guaranteed. That’s right, Cissé only scored 2 goals while at Lazio, both against Milan. One in September in the league and the one in the Coppa match last week. So there are no guarantees anymore, Lazio. No guarantees.

Coach Eddie Reja also said something ridiculous in the press since last week: He said that Klose was better than Ibra. Now, before you burst into hysterical laughter, let’s look at the stats for each of them this season and see if he was right:

Klose has 19 appearances, 11 goals, and 3 assists in Serie A.

Good, but... Ibratacular? Hmmm...

Ibra has 17 appearances, 15 goals, and 4 assists in Serie A.

Can your Klose do this?

Nope, Klose is not better than Ibra, even on paper. Okay, let the hysterical laughter commence. Don't get me wrong, I love Miroslav Klose, he's a favorite of mine, but sometimes people say some very silly things.

So now Lazio are welcoming the team that just knocked them out of the Coppa Italia, without their Milan voodoo scorer, and their coach just made a complete fool of himself in the media. I can see why they would be angry birds, indeed. But don’t let that fool you. Anger can fuel a great performance if used carefully.

I would be angry, too, Eddie Reja.

Coach “Klose is better than Ibra” Reja will no doubt choose a starting 11 based on what worked and what didn’t last week against Milan. He started with a 3-4-1-2 last week, which was a complete disaster, so I would expect he might try a 4-3-1-2 to match Milan instead. My best guess would be: Marchetti; Dias, Biava, Radu, Konko; Ledesma, Lulic, Gonzalez; Hernanes; Rocchi, and Klose. Of course, as of this writing, the transfer window hasn’t yet closed, so if the rumors of one Filippo Inzaghi to Lazio are true, he would have another striker that is all too familiar with Milan to field. But I hope in my heart of hearts that Pippo will be lining up against Lazio, not for them.

Allegri has weathered the injury storm very well, and will have had a lot on his mind this past 6 days, finding out how long Merkel was out for, the resolution of the Tevez-Lopez deal, and making up his Champions League List and checking it twice. Now he has a huge month of fixtures ahead of him, but he’ll have to focus on repeating his success against Lazio this week, but with 3 valuable points on the line.

Mesbah: "I can fly higher than an eagle..."

If I had Allegri’s ear, which I clearly don’t if you’ve read my lineup predictions in the past, here would be my thought process: Abbiati, and then Abate, Nesta, Mexes, Mesbah in the back. Silva is supposed to be fit, but I don’t like to take chances with groin injuries, and we’ll need him to be 100% for Napoli & Juve. Plus, Mexes has done very, very well of late. In the midfield, we are so stretched, but I would go with Urby, van Bommel, Nocerino, and put Robinho in the hole. For me, Seedorf is too slow, and he is less effective at the trequartista spot than Urby, but can be a very valuable sub for the last 20-30 minutes. Or exchange Ambrosini for van Bommel, but then you have 2 great midfield subs if needed. I would start Ibra and El Shaarawy up front, but still have Lopez and Inzaghi for subs, too.

Whomever Allegri chooses amidst so many distractions, I hope that we take command from the first whistle and hold onto it the entire match, even better than when we met our friends from the capital last week. They may have revenge on their minds, but we have a league title to defend, success in the Champions League in our plans, and perhaps a Coppa title in our future, too. So  even thought it won't be easy, I hope that we can go to the Olimpico and manage a few angry birds.

Lazio vs. Milan
Wednesday, February 1st • 20:45 CET (2:45 EST)
This match will be shown on RAI International and ESPN3 in the U.S.


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