Inter eye Lazio revenge as fixture chaos strikes Serie A

Sarri’s side are the only team to beat defending champions this season

AFP January 08, 2022

Serie A leaders Inter Milan will seek revenge on Sunday when they face Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio, the only team to defeat them in the league so far this season, but the Italian top-flight looks set to face more fixture disruption due to Covid-19.

Domestic action resumed on Thursday after a two-week winter break, but four of the 10 scheduled matches did not take place due to restrictions issued by the local health authorities (ASL) of Bologna, Salernitana, Udinese and Torino.

Champions Inter were due to face Bologna and travelled to the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, but there were no opponents for them to face there as the Rossoblu squad had been ordered into quarantine due to rising Covid cases. The league body's refusal to rearrange matches has caused chaos, with one team turning up to each of the fixtures only to leave again after 45 minutes when the game was officially abandoned.

Serie A outlined a new protocol on Thursday that said teams must fulfil their fixtures if they have 13 negative players born before Dec 31 2003 available, including one goalkeeper, while any team failing to show up will face a 3-0 defeat and one-point deduction. “The hope is that the ASL no longer intervene with confused and inconsistent measures which, at the moment, are creating serious damage to the Italian sports system,” read a league statement.

However, three more games are expected to be affected on Sunday. Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Friday that Cagliari-Bologna, Torino-Fiorentina and Udinese-Atalanta will not be played as the Bologna, Torino and Udinese squads remain in ASL-enforced quarantine until next week.


While chaos unfolds off the pitch, there is plenty to look forward to on it as Inter prepare to welcome Lazio to San Siro in the showcase fixture of the round. Inter coach Simone Inzaghi left Lazio during the close season after 5-1/2 years in charge. The Rome side came from behind to beat Inter 3-1 in a fiery game at the Stadio Olimpico in October, but the setback was followed by a big upturn in form from the champions.

A run of nine wins and two draws in their 11 Serie A outings since that night in the capital has left Inter top of the table, one point clear of AC Milan but with a game in hand. The league leaders are on a run of six consecutive clean sheets, but face a stern challenge to defend that record against a free-scoring Lazio side. With 42 goals, Sarri’s team are the third-top scorers in Serie A this season, only behind Inter (49) and Milan (43), despite being down in eighth place.

Lazio have been inconsistent this season and began 2022 with a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Empoli that exposed their defensive frailties - only the bottom four sides in the division have a worse record than their 37 goals conceded.

There is another big game in the capital where Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma side will look to bounce back from a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Milan with a win that would see them draw level on points with fifth-placed Juventus. Milan travel to lowly Venezia, while Napoli host Sampdoria and Andriy Shevchenko’s Genoa welcome Spezia for a potentially crucial game in the relegation battle, with four points separating the two sides in 19th and 17th respectively.


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