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Serie A Week 34 - 20/4/08 (14.00 UK)

Catania - Lazio
Stadio Massimino

It should be a tense and entertaining clash between Catania and Lazio at the Stadio Angelo Massimino in Week 34. After a disappointing derby defeat against Palermo, the Rossoblu need some vital points in order to avoid relegation while the Biancocelesti may be short of motivation.

Catania currently sit 15th in the table, two points ahead of Reggina and Empoli which means they cannot afford anymore slip-ups. The arrival of new boss Walter Zenga has had a positive effect on the team so far, but survival is still at stake. “Sometimes certain situations can penalise you,” said the former Nazionale veteran. “We proved all our strength against Palermo and were unfortunate to lose.”

Meanwhile, Lazio hold a mid-table position and their only ambition is to end the season with style. They were held 1-1 by Siena last weekend, but President Claudio Lotito was happy with his team’s display. “Perhaps we could have stayed focused until the end, but overall we were competitive.”

The Biancocelesti have collected three consecutive draws and will be hoping to bag their first win in Catania since 1961. Last year’s encounter at the Massimino ended 3-1 in favour of the locals. The Sicilians and the Laziali will also be playing in the first leg of the Italian Cup semi-finals this week facing Roma and Inter respectively.

The Rossoblu used to line up with a 4-3-3 formation but with Zenga they have switched to a more effective 4-4-2 formation. Andrea Sottil will be missing in defence and should be replaced by Christian Terlizzi. Explosive full-back Juan Vargas will start from midfield. Mariano Izco should also be included in the starting XI. In attack it looks like Giuseppe Mascara next to ‘Il Gabbiano’ Gionatha Spinesi. Jorge Martinez will have to sit on the bench while Japanese starlet Takayuki Morimoto has recovered from injury but is not ready for action yet.

Lazio boss Delio Rossi is trying to give space to all of his players so there could be several surprises in the starting line-up. Fernando Muslera should start in goal despite his awful performance against Siena. Sebastiano Siviglia is suspended so former Newcastle man David Rozenhal may play in defence. Stefano Mauri will be the Trequartista behind Rolando Bianchi and one out of Tommaso Rocchi and Goran Pandev.

Keep an eye on: Giuseppe Mascara (Catania) – ‘Topolinick’ has been poor so far this season, scoring only four goals in 30 appearances, and Catania desperately need his help.

Last season: Catania 3-1 Lazio

Form guide: Catania (D D L W L) Lazio (W L D D D)

Catania (probable): Polito; Sardo, Terlizzi, Stovini, Sabato; Izco, Gia.Tedesco, Edusei, Vargas; Mascara, Spinesi

Lazio (probable): Muslera; Zauri, Rozenhal, Cribari, Radu; Mudingay, Ledesma, Mutarelli; Mauri; Bianchi, Rocchi

Ref: To follow...

channel4
 

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Catania needs the points, we don't. Even if we could, I'd be very surprised to see Lazio win this one...

The question is whether we give them one or all three. My prediction is a tediously boring match that ends either 2-1 or 1-1. If we lead by a goal near the end, expect a huge mistake like the one Muslera made last Sunday.

Me cynical? No...;)
 

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Lazio take the lead in the first half, cross from Manfredini, and Igli Tare with a spectacular bicycle kick nets the ball into Catania's goal. Then only Muslera's saves prevent the home team from a deserved equalizer, especially when the Uruguayan goalkeeper saves from a Spinesi's penalty kick halfway through the second half. But one minute into injury time, the volcano wakes up and starts erupting, the sky becomes dark, the field bends downwards to Lazio goal, a strong wind rises up to make the ball fly into the until-then immaculate Lazio goal. And not even Muslera, at that stage, can do anything to beat such strong forces of nature.

Me determinist? Aye... :)
 

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Behrami and Pandev injured, Siviglia banned, time for rotation again. According to gazzetta.it, this is how Rossi will field the starters:
 

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Why is Pandev in the group if he is injured? Maybe we can rest Ledesma for the game or for a half since he will miss the game against rube if he gets a yellow card and he could use the rest anyway. That said, we have gotten like one yellow in the last three games, quite stange for lazio of all teams. I'd love a win in order to exorcise the ghost of possible relegation struggle once and for all but this outcome's quite unlikely.
 

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These matches have little importance anymore. It's difficult for our players to stay motivated. So it will indeed most likely be somewhat of a boring match. But hopefully the ones who are now given a starter position will try to make the most of it and show their worth.

I just hope we won't see anymore blunders from Muslera. ;)
 

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Bad result. Did anyone see the match.
 

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Preposterous refereeing, totally ruined the match. Two red cards for dissent. The Totti effect it's now called. Figures. Lazio players getting a raw deal for something that didn't happen to Totti in another match. A clear case of overcompensating for someone else's mistakes. And no doubt Zauri and Dabo will be suspended for the next few matches as well.
 

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Found this report at goal.com, not the most reliable site about football (euphemism...) but anyway:

Catania need a win badly as they hosted already-safe Lazio at the Stadio Massimino. Before the match, they were only two points above the relegation zone, so they knew a win would allow them to move clear of the danger zone. In the end they claimed a vital victory, but it was a hard-fought game until the very end, even after Lazio were reduced to nine men.

The start of the game was very promising from Catania's part, as they hit the woodwork twice in the opening minutes. In the 3rd minute, Gennaro Sardo fired a shot from outside the area which hit the crossbar, and a minute later Giovanni Tedesco's thunderbolt from 30 meters crashed against the post.

The difference in motivation between the two sides was quite evident. In the 12th minute, Juan Vargas sent in a great cross for Giuseppe Mascara, who had a chance to shoot from the penalty spot but sent it over the bar.

A few minutes later, Lazio managed a response through Mourad Meghni, who also found space to shoot inside the penalty area, but fired his effort wide of the post (18').

In the 23rd minute, ever-green goalkeeper Marco Ballotta pulled off a great save on a shot by Giovanni Tedesco, who was found by a pitch-perfect free kick from Mascara.

The turning point in the match came in the 33rd minute, when Lazio captain Luciano Zauri made a foul in the area to stop a clear goalscoring chance and was sent off. The subsequent penalty was coolly converted by Gionatha Spinesi.

Lazio were shocked for a while after this, and Meghni wasted a good chance a few minutes later as he opted for a back-heel from inside the area instead of going for the shot (36').

The first half finished on a deserved 1-0 lead for Catania, although they actually started playing worse after gaining a numerical advantage.
Just before the hour mark, things were made even easier for Catania, at least on paper, in the 58th minute, when midfielder Ousmane Dabo was also sent off for protesting against the referee after getting booked for a foul.

Despite this setback Lazio did not allow Catania to open the floodgates. In fact, the Sicilian side started looking a bit nervous and scared, which you would not expect from a team playing with two men more.
In the 61st minute, Aleksandr Kolarov made an interesting run inside Catania's penalty area and tried a dangerous cross-shot which went just wide.

Spinesi wasted a good counterattack for the home side in the 79th minute, as he opted for a shot from outside the area instead of passing it to the unmarked Vargas and Giuseppe Colucci.

A minute later, Lazio responded as Pandev found his way inside the area, but his shot was weak and finished wide.

Three minutes before the end, Catania played another interesting move but the wasteful Colucci fired the ball well over the crossbar (87').

In the end the home side were forced to hold on to their slender 1-0 lead by determined Lazio side. Walter Zenga's team are now five points clear of the relegation zone in 14th place, while Lazio are 12th with 40 points, 10 clear of the danger zone so they are practically already safe.

Danilo Pochini

Goal: 34’ pen. Spinesi

CATANIA (4-4-2): Polito; Sardo, Stovini, Silvestre, Sabato; Izco, Biagianti, Tedesco (71’ Baiocco), Vargas; Spinesi (84’ Martinez), Mascara (75’ Colucci) Coach: Zenga. Available: Rossi, Silvestri, Morimoto, Edusei

LAZIO (4-3-1-2): Ballotta; Zauri, Rozehnal, Cribari, Kolarov; Dabo, Ledesma, Mutarelli; Meghni (46’ De Silvestri); Rocchi (78’ Tare), Bianchi (52’ Pandev) Coach: Rossi. Available: Muslera, Radu, Mudingayi, Mauri

REFEREE: Celi da Campobasso 4
BOOKED: 31’ Zauri, 58’ Dabo, 64’ Sardo, 67’ Ledesma, 77’ Kolarov
SENT OFF: 33’ Zauri, 59’ Dabo


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The first half seems really like the one Lazio played in Parma, what with the home team outplaying us. And from this report, paradoxically, Lazio played better in 9 against 11. The bad things are the result, the sending-offs (11 sending-offs in 34 games, is this a record???), and the fact that, as Boyo said, Zauri and Dabo will miss the game against Juventus. The good thing is that now there are only 4 games left in this bloody red Serie A season.
 

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One game I am happy that I didn't manage to watch...
Our discipline record is beyond appalling, especialy away from home. Not only we lost against not exactly formidable opposition but we will have Zauri, Dabo and ledesma suspended for the rube game. Well done, boys...
 

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Scrappy, srappy match. There's no motivation left in our guys and it seems they're only thinking of summer vacations. Who can blame them, but I'd still like them to finish off well and build on for next season. Seems like all is left is timewasting.
 

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This game didn't matter to one direction or other, so I'm really not that bothered. Actually after the penalty I didn't even bother to watch the game...been ages since a Lazio game held this little interest for me.

But of course the Juve match is always worth fighting, and now we will have to field a completely non-creative midfield. That sucks.
 

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The fact that of all the remaining 4 games we will have to play without our best midfielders and the captain the ONE game which somehow matters, that fact sums up well this bloody season. Come, summer, come...

Ratings according to "Gazzetta dello Sport":

Ballotta 6 - First sleepy and then saves as much as possible.
Zauri 5 - Loses Vargas twice, should be blamed for the penalty and the sending-off.
Rozenhal 6 - Not bad.
Cribari 5 - Too much inaccuracy, long balls without any target.
Kolarov 6,5 - Not overwhelmed by the comparison to the outstanding Vargas.
Dabo 5 - Dull match.
Ledesma 6 - Last one to surrender. Will miss the game against Juventus.
Mutarelli 6 - Keeps up the midfield wall.
Meghni 5,5 - Fades away as minutes go by.
De Silvestri 6 - Pushes up when possible.
Rocchi 5 - Was he playing?
Bianchi 5 - See Rocchi.
Pandev 6 - Dangerous, keeps Catania's defense busy.
 

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Preposterous refereeing, totally ruined the match. Two red cards for dissent. The Totti effect it's now called. Figures. Lazio players getting a raw deal for something that didn't happen to Totti in another match. A clear case of overcompensating for someone else's mistakes. And no doubt Zauri and Dabo will be suspended for the next few matches as well.
Zauri wasn't sent off for dissent, though, it was for the foul that gave the penalty.

About Dabo, clearly there were double standards. totti's outburst in Udine was much much worse, but the ref there bottled it. But that's no excuse for Dabo. He's done it before (at Juve after the disallowed goal couple of years ago), and it's just idiotic. The ref has to be respected and our players must have better discipline. I don't want to look for guilty parts anywhere else...
 
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