Lazio vs Inter Milan
The winner takes it all at the Stadio Olimpico this weekend, as Lazio and Inter battle it out for the final Champions League slot in Serie A.
It’s a ‘do-or-die’ moment for both; Inter need to win and Lazio just need a draw. It only takes a second to score a goal and, unless either team runs away with it, there will be tension throughout. In the football betting market, the live odds will be shifting by the minute as both teams know exactly what they have to do.
But neither side showed the composure needed to grab a top-four place last week: Lazio drew with strugglers Crotone and Inter fell to a shock home defeat to Sassuolo. Those two disappointments have left Lazio in the coveted fourth place, three points ahead of Inter. But as the return fixture was a draw, a victory for Luciano Spalletti’s team will lift them above the Romans. If that was to happen, there will be explosive scenes for sure in the capital amidst wild celebrations in Milan.
Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi has been sweating on the fitness of his star striker Ciro Immobile, who limped off in the early May fixture against Torino with a thigh injury.
The 28-year-old international has been in prolific form this season, leading the goal-scoring race in Serie A. He is one of the hottest properties in Europe at the moment, and with Italy missing out on World Cup 2018 a fresh Immobile could be an asset for any team come August.
And what about the race for the Capocannoniere? Well Immobile’s injury has allowed Inter’s top marksman, Mauro Icardi, to climb to within a goal of his rival after scoring his 28th of the season in the 0-4 destruction of Udinese a couple of weeks ago. This sub-plot won’t have gone un-noticed in Milan, where they are placing a whole lot of hope on Icardi’s shoulders. Winger Ivan Perisic has been impressive all season, sitting third in the Serie A list of assists, and he’ll provide a ready supply of ammunition.
Immobile too has a superb supplier in the form of Luis Alberto, but the Spaniard is also listed as doubtful with a groin strain, news that is deepening the worried frowns at Lazio. Inzaghi will be desperate for good news as Inter, in contrast, are not reporting any new injuries.
While Lazio are in pole position to grab the last Champions League qualification place, Inter win hands-down when it comes to heritage. They are 18-time winners of the Scudetto, and the last time they were top dogs in Serie A, in 2010, they also won the Champions League.
Lazio’s achievements are, in comparison, more modest: they won Serie A twice, most recently in 2000. But, in the now, all they have to do is go one better than last season’s fifth place.
There is very little to choose between the two in recent times. The last five matches have been shared, two wins apiece and a draw. While fans at the Stadio Olimpico have cause for optimism, Inter came from behind to win 1-3 the last time they visited.
But Inzaghi’s side is on a ten-match unbeaten run in the league, five at home, while Spalletti’s boys have lost two of the last three. Head-to-heads could hardly be closer; of 55 games, Lazio has won 18 and Inter 17.
Will it be all-square come Sunday night?
What are the odds?
Well, an Inter win, to draw level at 18-18 and snatch the coveted fourth place, is available at 2.80. If we compare betting odds for a home win, 2.43 and a draw at 3.30, then this is a game with three very possible results.
The Draw no Bet options are available at 1.83 for Lazio and 2.11 for Milan. While Lazio will be delighted with a draw, the battle for the Capocannoniere, as well as the unbearable nerves in such a tight game, is likely to present chances for Immobile, if fit, and Icardi.
Twenty-eight of Lazio’s 37 league games have yielded over 2.5 goals, while Inter have been more balanced at 17 over and 20 under. But it’s the visitors who need goals, and how. Over 3.00 goals is available at 2.05, while under 2.75 is at 2.12.
And while Lazio’s nightmare scenario of a 1-3 defeat is at odds of 20.00, the most likely result, at 6.40, is 1-1.
Other notable match-ups
SPAL vs Sampdoria
Last season’s Serie B winners have put up a good fight this year and can avoid a swift return to the second tier with a win against Sampdoria, already on the beach with back-to-back defeats. Though 18th-placed Crotone are away at Napoli, SPAL won’t want to leave anything to chance.
Cagliari vs Atalanta
Cagliari, in 16th and just a point ahead of SPAL, are still in danger. This is a difficult match against an Atalanta side, in seventh place with 11 points from five games, hunting down a Europa League place.
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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.