Lazio v Sampdoria – Stadio Olimpico at 14:00 live at BT Sport
Lazio seemed to have lost a little momentum when losing to Napoli, effectively ending their ambitions to finish in the top-three ahead of their crucial Rome derby against Roma on Sunday.
The Biancocelesti suffered a further blow in the build-up to kick-off, when top scorer Ciro Immobile was ruled out with a fever. The underdogs hadn’t beaten their bitter opponents in four-and-a-half years of Serie A action and few were backing Simone Inzaghi’s men to pocket the points.
But Lazio refused to kneel down in the Eternal City. In Immobile’s absence, Keita Balde was left to start alone up front as Inzaghi outwitted his opposite number Luciano Spalletti yet again following their Coppa Italia semi-final success last monh.
The Biancocelesti’s 3-5-1-1 was perfectly structured to counteract Roma with a tendency to overcommit, allying defensive solidity with varied options on the break.
Jordan Lukaku and Dusan Basta offered tireless running on the flanks, but Lucas Biglia was just as effective carving straight through the middle of Roma’s midfield. Keita’s pace forced Roma’s defenders back on their heels, and left space for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to dictate play between the lines.
Inzaghi has shaped lAZIO into something more than the sum of their parts, a team that is dynamic, exciting, and flexible – having switched formations regularly to fit their opposition. The Champions League might be beyond them but they are looking forward with relish to a Coppa Italia final with Juventus.
However, Sunday’s tussle with Sampdoria could easily see the Eagles suffer from a bout of After The Lord Mayor’s Show-itus. Pre-Roma, Lazio suffered a major wobble before a 6-2 demolition of Palermo, in which they scored with their first five shots. That, though, was only their second win in six.
The hosts have recorded the double over top-six rivals Atalanta but managed just W1-D2-L5 when taking on the rest of the top-six and although Samp are much further down the Serie A standings, the visitors boast the tools to make life tough for the home side still flying high after their derby success.
Sampdoria recorded a well-earned draw at Torino at the weekend and may have only won once in six as attention turns towards the campaigns’ conclusion but the Asian Handicap line has been extremely generous to the Blucerchiati here.
Marco Giampaolo’s men have been handed a two-goal start with odds of 1.99 available. That means, the only way in which this selection could lose is if Lazio win by at least three goals; a margin of defeat Sampdoria have only suffered once this season and that came at champions-elect Juventus.
Lazio have surpassed the handicap on five occasions this term but I wouldn’t want to back the Biancocelesti producing a one-sided victory at the prices on offer and they’re best opposed in Sunday’s attractive Serie A encounter.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Sampdoria +2 Asian Handicap (1.99)
Prices correct at time of writing.