Juventus square up to Lazio on the final day of the season at the Stadio Olimpico looking to secure the win which will render Milan’s result against Fiorentina meaningless as the two rivals vie for runners-up spot. The match will be Ciro Ferrara’s second in control of the Bianconeri and with the world watching, a win could prove vital if he is to be considered for the job on a permanent basis. Anything less than a win however could see his time in the hot seat come to an abrupt end.
Lazio meanwhile have nothing left to play for this season. After winning the Coppa Italia with victory over Sampdoria, the team has already secured a place in next season’s Europa League while a mid-table finish is assured win, lose or draw. The club has endured a somewhat tempestuous season, with Coach Delio Rossi, close to the sack on more than one occasion if reports are to be believed. Nonetheless, a cup triumph and qualification for Europe proved enough to keep him in a job for the time being.
Lazio remain a difficult team to gauge. This season they have achieved 15 wins and five draws while suffering 17 losses. Juventus, in comparison have suffered just six losses with only two recorded at home. With a strong record at the Stadio Olimpico, the Old Lady head into this match as the firm favourites thanks to a much-needed dressing room shake-up and a newly found confidence following last weekend’s thrashing of Siena.
Juve’s players will look to keep a clean sheet and attack Lazio with the Biancocelesti missing a number of players. Arguably, this game is more about Ferrara than Juventus’ final league position. He has improved morale tenfold and united the Bianconeri dressing room meaning the players should be eager to reward his efforts. Hot on the heels of the win over Siena, Ferrara will more than likely seek to field an unchanged line-up meaning a place on the bench again for the disgruntled Amauri.
Claudio Marchisio, who marked his return from injury last weekend with a goal, should start against Lazio, while Alessandro Del Piero, snubbed by Claudio Ranieri in his last few games in charge, should also retain his place in the starting line-up. Meanwhile in defence, Olof Mellberg will probably be benched again in favour of Jonathan Zebina, revitalised in the black and white stripes since Ferrara’s take over.
5 Zebina – 33 Legrottaglie – 3 Chiellini – 29 De Ceglie
16 Camoranesi – 6 Zanetti – 19 Marchisio – 11 Nedved
9 Iaquinta – 10 Del Piero
There could be a number of dramatic changes to the Lazio starting line-up with several key players unavailable. Most notable will be the absences of strikers Mauro Zarate and Goran Pandev, the latter unavailable due to suspension. Delio Rossi should welcome the return of Cristian Brocchi with his suspension now served. Tomasso Rocchi’s fitness is questionable however, with the player still undergoing intensive physiotherapy. His condition is likely to be assessed closer to kick-off with Rossi looking for a much-needed boost to his striking options.
With Lazio having little left to play for, this match offers Rossi a chance to give some young talent top flight experience. Ettore Mendicino, the Italy Under-21 international, should be handed his first Serie A start after making his Serie A debut earlier this year against Fiorentina as a substitute. Libor Kozak is also expected to lead the attack in the absence of Pandev and Zarate. The 19-year-old Czech starlet made his top flight debut only a matter of weeks ago in the 2-0 defeat to Inter. With two rookies leading the front line, Lazio will hope their experienced back line can deny Juve’s dangerous attack at the other end.
29 De Silvestri – 87 Diakite – 22 Rozehnal – 3 Kolarov
5 Brocchi – 24 Ledesma – 8 Matuzalem – 17 Foggia
20 Kozak – 90 Mendicino
The Bianconeri have yet to register a win in three meetings with Lazio this season. The Biancocelesti won both legs of their Coppa Italia clash and secured a 1-1 draw in Rome when they played Juventus in the league earlier this season. Their last loss against Juve came in April 2008 when they were thrashed 5-2 by Claudio Ranieri’s men in Turin. Unlike his predecessor, Ferrara will encourage his team to attack at will in search of a vital victory, while Delio Rossi will likely set his team out to keep the game tight and hit Juventus on the break.
Should Juventus and Milan find themselves level on points after Sunday’s matches, the Bianconeri will take second place thanks to their superior head-to-head record against the Rossoneri.