Surging Lazio the outsider in title race
MILAN (AP) Lazio is doing its best to show the Serie A title battle is not a two-horse race.
One point separates pacesetting Napoli and second-place Juventus while Lazio has won four out of five matches to surge within eight points of the leader.
”We are third and we have to try to stay up there until the end, even if it won’t be easy,” Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi said. ”We have to try to continue, taking it one match at a time with a lot of calm because we have a never-ending cycle of matches coming up.”
Lazio is through to the last 32 in the Europa League and will also meet AC Milan in the Italian Cup semifinals.
The first leg of that semifinal is on Wednesday at the San Siro, three days after the two teams meet in the league at the same stadium.
”It’s a joke of the calendar,” Inzaghi said. ”We’re facing a team which is in good health. They have a lot of quality and a big squad and they are doing well under (Gennaro) Gattuso.
”We have to approach both matches in the best way possible, knowing that we are playing far from our fans and they will be favorites because they’re playing at home.”
Lazio is scoring goals for fun, having netted 13 in three matches.
The league’s top scorer Ciro Immobile bagged four goals in a 5-2 victory at Spal but was injured early on during Sunday’s 5-1 win over Chievo Verona.
Inzaghi hopes to have him back for Sunday’s game but the team demonstrated in Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Udinese that it can cope without the Italy forward.
”It was a very important match, the players did well, even those who have played less,” Inzaghi said. ”For me that’s a reason to be proud. The lads were really good.”
One of the revelations of the season has been Serbia midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, 22. He has struck seven league goals for Lazio and is attracting interest from Europe’s top clubs.
”He will be a Lazio player until the end of the season, then no one knows what can happen,” Inzaghi said.
”He’s happy at Lazio and we’re as happy to have him here. He doesn’t have a price because he’s not for sale, that I can guarantee our fans.”
Lazio, which last won Serie A in 2000, finished fifth last year and was not among the title favorites at the start of this season.
”For many we’re a surprise,” Inzaghi said. ”At the beginning no one put us with the big guns. Now we have the obligation to prove ourselves right until the end.”