Luciano Spalletti must calm chaotic Inter Milan ahead of winner-takes-all clash with Lazioby Chloe Beresford / 17 May 2018, 13:30Tweet
When the Serie A calendar was announced last July, few could’ve imagined that the last match of the season between Lazio and Inter was going to become so incredibly important.
Simone Inzaghi’s men currently sit in the remaining Champions League spot, three points ahead of their Nerazzurri rivals, meaning that this final fixture effectively becomes a high stakes winner-takes-all contest.
If the duo finish even on points, the head-to-head record between them is taken into account before goal difference in the Italian top flight, however the matchup earlier this season finished 0-0, leaving the slate blank for this weekend’s fascinating contest.
Furthermore, reports in Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport claim that the winner of Sunday evening’s clash between the pair is set to earn in the region of E40 million, ramping the tension up even higher.
Inter boss Luciano Spalletti must lift his players after they benefited from a huge let-off last weekend, their 2-1 defeat at home to Sassuolo almost seeing them knocked out of contention before they faced their rivals, only for Lazio to draw 2-2 away at Crotone. The word “chaotic” was repeatedly used by Spalletti in his post match press conference after that loss, a word that could also be used to describe his approach at times.
Since arriving from AS Roma last summer, the Tuscan boss has overseen some real yo-yo results this season, an over-reliance on striker Mauro Icardi largely to blame for their varying fortunes. The hitman has fired in a staggering 28 of Inter’s tally of 63 league goals this term, a figure that equates to 44%. Meanwhile, Lazio have been scoring goals for fun this season, their total of 87 more than any other team in Serie A, including title-winning Juventus.
They too have a top striker in Ciro Immobile, the Italian international ahead in the Capocannoniere race by just one goal over Icardi with 29. However this figure represents just 33% of his side’s total, highlighting exactly how rampant the entire team have been going forward. Immobile is expected to return from an injury that was initially reported to have put him out for the remainder of the campaign, a huge boost for the home side.
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Spalletti may be vastly more experienced than his Biancocelesti counterpart, but the Tuscan boss faces a battle not only to avoid conceding versus a side so proficient in scoring goals, but to find a way to engage more than just Icardi in order to reduce the pressure on his number nine. The head-to-head record between the two bosses gives no clue to the potential outcome either. Five matches in total have seen two wins for each Coach plus the aforementioned 0-0 draw earlier this term.
“It was the first of two match point situations,” said Inzaghi after their disappointing draw with Crotone last weekend.
“We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we conceded two avoidable goals. There’s more suffering to be done and we’ll gamble it all at our stadium.
“We play to win, but naturally with the option of a draw it leaves us slightly calmer than Inter. On the other hand, that could be a disadvantage psychologically. It was destiny, we had to fight it out to the very end.”
The boss is indeed correct, his Lazio team do play to win, a factor that could help or hinder them in this key clash.Sunday’s game has taken on the feel of a one-off cup match rather than a league encounter, which usually means that anything can happen. However Inter and their Coach will have to be much more like their brilliant best than their “chaotic” worst in order to overcome a “calmer” and more prolific Lazio side.