07 January 2007

Dubai Cup Preview

In December, Lazio was invited to participate in the first Mohammed bin Rashid International Football Championship (usually called the Dubai Cup, because the full name is such a mouthful). This is an excellent way for Lazio to spend the tail end of its winter break. The format for the Cup is a four-team bracketed tournament with the first round winners playing for the championship and the first round losers playing for third place.

The three other teams invited to the Cup were Benfica (Portuguese Liga), Bayern Munich (German Bundesliga), and Santos FC (Brasilian Série A). Santos dropped out of the Cup in late December and was replaced with French Ligue 1 squad Olympique de Marseille. Lazio was originally drawn against Santos, so they will now play Marseille.

The Dubai Cup is intended as a showcase of international talent, and it is an honor for Lazio to participate. The two clubs drawn in the other first round match, Bayern and Benfica, both qualified for the ongoing Champions League (Bayern advanced to the knockout round, while Benfica dropped to UEFA Cup from the group stage). Marseille is no slouch club, earning 5th place in Ligue 1 last season, even though that only qualified them for the Intertoto Cup. While not only a fabulous chance to play other high-level squads, participation in the Dubai Cup is also a financial windfall. All clubs participating receive a minimum €500,000, and the winner will net €1.3 million.

Match Preview: Lazio - Marseille

Lazio (5th place, Serie A)
Marseille (6th place, Ligue 1)
17:45 local / 14:45 CET / 8:45 AM EST
Monday, 9 January
Al Ahli Club Stadium, Dubai, UAE

US TV: GolTV (delayed broadcast at 1:45 PM EST)

Lazio have departed for the UAE without their two Azzurri stars, Massimo Oddo and Angelo Peruzzi. They will have to remain in Italy for the official award ceremony for the campioni del mondo, but will be flying to Dubai for the second round game (the Cup contract includes a clause to make sure that the teams play their first squads and star international players; Lazio is in effect gaining an exemption for these two). Thus the biancocelesti will start the tournament slightly depleted in the defense, which could hurt their chances of playing for the first place prize.

The main challenge for Lazio, as it has been all season in Serie A, will be over control of the midfield. Marseille boast French national team midfielder Frank Ribéry. Collapses at midfield could be disastrous for an Oddo-less defense, so Lazio will have to be very careful to keep the ball moving toward the offensive end, not only to create their own chances but to prevent chances for Marseille.

Projected formation:

Prediction: Hard to say, since I know so little about Marseille...but it could easily go to extra time.


hamid said...

don't want Hi man
your website is so cool.
Forza Lazio!

Hamid said...

Hi man
your website is so cool.
Forza Lazio!
(there was a problem in previous post,sorry!