Match Day 38
Lazio vs Inter Milan
Monday, May 21st, 2018
01:00am (GMT+8 Timing)
Stadium: Stadio Olimpico
Last five matches form: W W W D D
Average goals per match: 2.35
Average goals against per match: 1.24
Top Scorer: Ciro Immobile (29)
Last five matches form: W W L W L
Average goals per match: 1.70
Average goals against per match: 0.76
Top Scorer: Maoro Icardi (28)
No doubt about the big game on the final day in what has been another fabulous Serie A season. It comes at the Stadio Olimpico as fourth placed Lazio bid to hold onto the final Champions League position against fifth placed Inter Milan.
Lazio do hold a three-point advantage over Inter, and a six goal better goal difference. However, with Serie A using head to head records to split ties, and the first game between the sides resulting in a draw, any win for Inter here will see the Milan side steal the final Champions League spot right at the death. High stakes indeed.
Lazio aren't quite the walking wounded headed into this fixture, but they do have significant doubts surrounding three crucial players in Marco Parolo, Luis Alberto and, most importantly, 29 goal hitman Ciro Immobile.
Inter in contrast have a fully fit squad to choose from.
This looks an evenly poised clash, with Lazio having claimed 32 points at home this season and Inter picking up 31 points on the road.
Inter will be pleased to have a chance of making it to Europe's top table heading into the final game of the season, but the ball is really still very much in Lazio's court. They only need to avoid defeat here in order to qualify, a feat they have managed in each of their last 10 Serie A outings.
This looks likely to be a heated encounter, and much may hinge on which side keeps a lid on their emotions best. Needing just a draw to hold their position, we see Lazio ding enough and possibly even nicking a win on the counter attack.
Prediction: Lazio 2 - 1 Inter Milan
Half time: 2 - 1
Full time: 2 - 3
Shots: 14 - 15
Shots on target: 4 - 6
Corner Kicks: 10 - 4
Possession: 40% - 60%
There was a lot on the line in this one, and the passion of the players certainly spilled over into the notebook of referee, Gianluca Rocchi. Luiz Felipe, Lucas Leiva and Thomas Strakosha being booked for Lazio, who also had Senad Lulic sent off for two yellows and Patric shown the straight red. Inter's Marcelo Brozovic, Miranda, Danilo D'Ambrosio and Matias Vecino also had their names taken.
This was undoubtedly the biggest game of the weekend across the European Leagues, and it certainly didn't disappoint with the Stadio Olimpico proving to be the stage for a real thriller.
Needing only to avoid defeat in order to qualify for the Champions League, Lazio got off to a dream start.
Chances had already fallen to either side when the ball fell to Adam Marusic on the edge of the area. Marusic's shot looked to be flying both high and wide, only to smack Ivan Perisic straight in the face and spin past a helpless Samir Handanovic and into the bottom corner. 1-0.
In the 24th minute Lazio came oh so close to doubling their advantage. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic curling in an excellent free kick from around 25 yards, only to see his effort smack the post. Let off for Inter.
5 minutes later Inter were back on level terms. Marcelo Brozovic's corner from the left making its way all the way through to Danilo D'Ambrosio racing in at the far post. His initial effort was blocked on the line by keeper Thomas Strakosha, but the persistent D'Ambrosio was there to turn in the rebound.
Lazio did restore their lead before the half time whistle blew though.
Senad Lulic playing an excellent through ball to set Felipe Anderson free. One touch from Anderson on the run before firing a fine finish into the bottom, left corner. 2-1 at the break.
Chances for either side in a frenetic second half, with Inter looking to have a legitimate penalty appeal waved away. With 12 minutes to go though the visitors were still a goal down in a game they needed to win.
They were handed a lifeline when Stefan de Vrij mistimed his challenge in the area to bring down Mauro Icardi. This time it was a penalty. Icardi himself confidently dispatching the ball into the bottom right corner.
The momentum took a further swing in the direction of the Nerrazzurri just a minute later when Lazio skipper Lulic was sent off for a second yellow card.
Then in the 81st minute the comeback was complete. It was again a Brozovic corner which proved Lazio's undoing. This time from the right-hand side with Matias Vecino the man to get his head to the ball at the near post, heading down across goal, and in.
Patric lost his rag and was dismissed for Lazio in the closing stages to round off a disastrous evening for the home side.
It's Inter who will now be playing Champions League football next season, as Lazio drop down into the Europa League places.