08 September 2006

Milan - Lazio preview

Milan (-8 pts, 17th place)
Lazio (-11 pts, 18th place)
15:00 CET (9:00 AM EDT) Sun, Sep 10
Stadio San Siro, Milano

US TV: GolTV (live), RAI Internazionale (live)

I was going to write this preview yesterday. Good thing that I didn't, because there appear to be a few changes as the biancocelesti get set to kick off the Serie A season against the rossoneri. First came the notice today from the KataWeb news service that Stephen Makinwa will probably start in favor of Goran Pandev since Pandev just returned from NT duty with Macedonia. It remains to be seen how much of the match Stephen will play. The man who will play next to him, Tommaso Rocchi, today had some pretty strong words for Milan:
Ci deve temere perché siamo una buona squadra che dovrà partire forte per recuperare il -11. Andiamo a Milano per fare un risultato importante.
"They should fear us because we are a good team that needs to start strong to make up for the -11 [point penalty]. We are going to Milan to make an important result."

Pasquale Foggia, whose contract is still owned by Milan, is also excited to play against his former team in the season opener. It is hard to say whether Massimo Oddo will be as enthusiastic, or whether he will show any outward sign that he wishes he could be wearing the opposite jersey.

Technically, Lazio should be able to match Milan if they can avoid the defensive blunders that have plagued them in their recent friendly matches. The match in Milan will be the first time that all eight of the first team midfielders and defenders will be playing together. Oddo, happy about his contractual situation or not, will bolster the defense, and the enthusiasm of Foggia and Rocchi should help play upfield. Pandev will be available should the offense need a kick-start in the second half, and if he is not too tired he may be able to provide a deciding goal. Nonetheless San Siro is a tough stadium to play in, as their 2-0 loss last year showed. But during the girone ritorno at the Olimpico they showed that they could hang tough against Milan's offensive onslaught (which remains basically the same as last season), earning a 0-0 draw. It seems pretty certain that on Sunday Lazio will both give up and score at least one goal. The edge has to be given to Milan, but the Laziale in me says that a draw could happen.

Projected form:

Prediction: Milan 1-1 Lazio. Goal by Ledesma.

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