Two of the top teams in Serie A meet today at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome looking to keep pace with the league leaders Juventus. Both teams are on a good run of form and both teams got positive results in their mid-week Europa League matches, advancing to the knockout round of the tournament. Now they look to add to their league point totals at the other's expense.
Udinese are unbeaten in their last three league matches and are coming off a 1-1 draw with Celtic in the Europa League on Thursday. The Bianconeri are led by the incomparable Antonio Di Natale who has already netted 10 goals this season, a bit off the pace from last season where he found the back of the net 28 times. The story has been repeated many times about all the talent Udinese lost in the summer, yet Francesco Guidolin's men keep finding ways to get results and are right in the mix for the Scudetto.
Lazio are having another strong season in follow-up to their fifth place performance last year. First choice goalkeeper Federico Marchetti remains sidelined with a hamstring injury so the task of keeping Di Natale off the score sheet falls to Argentinian Albano Bizarri, who in his one start in league play this season against Parma made six saves and earned a clean sheet. Lazio are led up front by the big German Miroslav Klose who has eight goals for Edoardo Reja's side.
Lazio has utilized a 4-2-3-1 and two striker formations this year, so a key point in the match will be how Udinese's back three are able to stand-up to Lazio's attack. Fortunately, Udinese has options at the back and have shown the propensity to adjust their defensive tactics to deal with different situations. Watch the performance of Lazio's Cristian Ledesma, a player who's been very hot and cold most of the season. A poor match from Ledesman could allow Gabriel Torje to have a big day for Udinese.
Lazio vs. Udinese
Game Date/Time: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy