Miroslav Klose (C) of SS Lazio competes for the ball with Parma FC players during the Serie A match between SS Lazio and Parma FC at Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
After dark periods, these two grandees of the Italian game are back at its summit. They face of on Saturday for the right to stay there.
Having rounded off the twentieth-century with their second Scudetto, Lazio have had a tricky opening decade to the twenty-first. Juventus, completely dominant in the early part of the decade have had well documented travails since. Today, though, these two sides sit first and second in Serie A and while it is too early to dismiss or promote the title chances of either it is fitting that these two clubs should be welcomed back to the big-time with a top of the table encounter: the top table has been the poorer for their prolonged absences.
The Romans are slightly fortunate to remain level with Juve (both teams have 22 points, Juventus' superior goal difference means they sit top) after hanging on somewhat for a valuable draw in Napoli's Sao Paolo in which goalkeeper Federico Marchetti was superb. Lazio's defensive display in Naples, partly excused by Napoli's superb counter attacking potency (as showcased against Manchester City this week) was mitigated further by the absence of top scorer Miroslav Klose through injury. The German, along with Djiblril Cisse (who, with one league goal, has been slightly less successful since his summer move), will face a late fitness test. A pass would be welcome, as Lazio are definitely without suspended playmaker Stefano Mauri.
Table topping Juventus, having comfortably dispatched Palermo last week with goals from Simone Pepe,Alessandro Matri and Claudio Marchisio, go into this fixture with their own creative worries. Ever present Andrea Pirlo faces a fitness test of his own.
With improving Milan and always solid Udinese a point behind the early pacesetters, neither team will want to slip up. In all likelihood, then, a 'typically Italian' game will ensue, with both teams looking to keep it tight.
Lazio vs. Juventus
Game Date/Time: Saturday, November 26, 2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local
TV: FOX Soccer Channel (USA), ESPN (UK), The Score (Canada)
Online: ESPN3 (USA)