Lazio v Napoli, Sat 20:00
With the European qualification format now changing in Serie A, the race for a third place finish hasn’t held quite as much significance for quite a long time and could be decided when Napoli travel to face Lazio this weekend, as Ladbrokes offer attractive odds on the away site to take al three points back to Naples.
While the Azzurri have been lingering just below the Europa League spots for much of the current season, Lazio have always seemed keen candidates to clinch Champions League qualification.
However, that position appears to be coming under threat and after Napoli’s inspiring form over the last month-and-a-half, this fixture will be a six-pointer in every understanding of the term.
A change in the format of UEFA rules for European qualification means that only the top three finishers in Serie A will qualify for the 2012-13 Champions League tournament due to the standard of football in Germany jumping up quite a notch in past years.
Therefore, victory at the Stadio Olimpico this Saturday could very well mean the difference between playing amongst Europe’s elite next season or just their smaller Europa League cousins.
Napoli are without a win in four matches but have still won five of their last eight league outings.
Juventus were the last side to play hosts to Walter Mazzarri’s side and the visitors were soundly ousted from Turin without so much as a goal as Juve beat the Naples outfit 3-0.
Lazio are in a similar vein of form, winning four of their last ten fixtures across all competitions and have surprisingly been more effective going forward away from home as opposed to playing on familiar soil.
The Biancazzurri have only averaged 1.33 goals per game when playing at the Olimpico as opposed to scoring an average of 1.60 goals in unfamiliar territory.
The Rome club will nevertheless pose a considerable threat to Napoli’s chances and after keeping a clean sheet in 53% of home fixtures this season, it will be interesting to see how the Holy Trinity fare come Saturday.
Should Lazio prove triumphant, they can move some six points clear of their nearest opposition this weekend providing Udinese and Roma slip up in their matches.