Group K winners Lazio travel to Belgium on Thursday night to face eliminated Zulte Waregem in the UEFA Europa League in a match with little on the line.
Regenboogstadion, Waregem, Belgium 07 Dec 2017 8:05 pm (GMT)
Key Stat: Zulte have just one win in their last 11 European home matches.
Expert Verdict: Even with Lazio going to Belgium as sure group winners with what has surely got to amount to a team of fringe players, the Italian side will be massive favorites to win and should feel very good about finishing out their group stage with yet another big win to show their credentials as potential winners.
Francky Dury will be without striker Peter Olayinka due to a knee injury.
While it's true that a win or even a point here would do little for them in this competition, it would be huge for potentially getting their season on track. They have had an awful go of it of late, and they need to get out of this funk quickly. In order to get that unlikely result, they'll need a goal. The place to look is Brian Hamalainen, the left sided wing back. He can help out defensively, while offering an attacking threat and he comes off a goal in the loss at Nice last time out.
Zulte have lost each of their last five matches:
0-1 home loss vs Gent
2-3 extra time home loss vs Brugge (Cup)
3-2 loss at Brugge
3-1 loss at Nice (UEL)
0-1 home loss vs Genk
Defenders:Heylen, Baudry, De fauw
Midfielders:Walsh, Coopman, Kastanos, Doumbia, Hamalainen
Forwards:De Pauw, Iseka
Simone Inzaghi has injuries that will keep center back Wallace, center midfielders Davide Di Gennaro and Bruno Jordao, right midfielder Felipe Anderson, and winger Nani out of the action on Thursday.
Even in the last round, Lazio were already sure of progression and that meant they rotated. They were led on that night by Luis Alberto, the former Liverpool and Sevilla man, and he will likely be charged with that role here. The Spaniard scored in the win over Zulte and he also has picked up an assist in this tournament as well. He has a great total of seven of those in Serie A, making him a big threat to break down Zulte's back line and confidence even more.
Lazio have two wins, two draws, and a loss in their last five matches:
1-2 win at Sampdoria
1-1 home draw vs Fiorentina
1-1 home draw vs Vitesse (UEL)
2-1 loss at Roma
1-0 home win vs Nice (UEL)
Defenders:Patric, Bastos, Felipe
Midfielders:Basta, Crecco, Miceli, Murgia, Lukaku
Forwards:Palombi, Luis Alberto
The first meeting between these sides took place in September, and it saw Lazio come through as 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Felipe Caicedo and Ciro Immobile.
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Zulte Waregem are at 5/2 to win, a draw is at 12/5, and a Lazio win is at 21/20.
This match is quite simple for both teams. Zulte can wrap up third place in the group with a win no matter what, but they are out of the running for qualification to the next round.
As for Lazio, they are four points clear of Nice already and are the group winners. This will give them the chance to face some of the weaker sides in the round of 32 when the draw is made.
Zulte have a loss and a draw in their two group matches so far. And overall, they've got just three wins, two draws, and seven losses there to date. Lazio's two away matches in the group have gone down as victories for them. Overall, the Italian side have ten wins and a loss in their away matches this term.
Zulte have had quite a busy schedule of late, so they will be up against it even more than they already would have been up against Lazio here.
A no on both teams to score is at 6/4 via Ladbrokes.
Zulte have been downright awful at home in Europe, and their form in general is abysmal to say the least. Even against a Lazio side that will be rotated heavily, they will be huge underdogs.