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Empoli logo
Serie A | Gameweek 38
Jun 3, 2023 at 8pm UK
Stadio Carlo Castellani
Lazio logo

0 - 2

Akpa-Akpro (14'), Cambiaghi (37')
Cambiaghi (89')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Romagnoli (48'), Alberto (90+2')
Milinkovic-Savic (40'), Vecino (62')

Preview: Empoli vs. Lazio - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Empoli and Lazio, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Aiming to sew up second place in the Serie A standings, Lazio play their final fixture of the 2022-23 season on Saturday, when they meet Empoli at Stadio Carlo Castellani.

While the capital club are 90 minutes from finishing as 'best of the rest' behind Scudetto-winners Napoli, their hosts have already assured a third straight season of top-flight football by winning three of their last five matches.

Match preview

Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic celebrates scoring their first goal with Adam Marusic in January 2023© Reuters

Almost embarrassed in their final home game of an impressive campaign, Lazio required a late winner from midfield maestro Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to see off relegated Cremonese at Stadio Olimpico last week; victory on Saturday would therefore secure second spot.

Some have interpreted the Serbian's double strike as something of a send-off after several successful years at the Biancocelesti's service, but he must at least commit one final performance to the cause in Empoli, where Lazio have won on each of their last three visits.

Having won just one of five games prior to beating Udinese and Cremonese to round off May, Maurizio Sarri may have worried that his side's season was petering out, but they now boast a 10-point cushion to fifth-placed Atalanta; ensuring they will play Champions League football for the first time since 2020.

Lazio have now earned 71 points to move clear of outgoing champions Milan, city rivals Roma and Champions League finalists Inter, and with a win this weekend they would also record their second-best tally in a top-flight campaign.

In addition to a long series of clean sheets, Sarri's men have notably won 34 of those points on the road - again, the club's second-best performance in a single Serie A season.

Ciro Immobile's injury-hit year may have reduced his customary goal total, but Milinkovic-Savic (nine), Felipe Anderson (nine) and Mattia Zaccagni (10) have all contributed to make up the deficit, as 'Sarrisimo' truly takes hold in Rome.

Empoli's Francesco Caputo celebrates scoring their third goal with Nicolo Cambiaghi on May 22, 2023© Reuters

Without a win in their last eight league meetings with Lazio - losing six in a row before drawing the most recent two - Empoli will want to end that streak in Saturday's season finale in front of their own fans.

Last time out at their Tuscan headquarters, the Azzurri crushed Juventus - who had just received news of a fresh 10-point penalty before kickoff - and now they seek a similar result against another giant of Calcio.

In all, Empoli have won three of their last five fixtures without suffering defeat, and following a troubling run after the World Cup they have since rallied to ensure safety with weeks to spare.

A 1-1 draw at relegation-threatened Hellas Verona last week - secured only by a stoppage-time own goal which dashed their hosts' dreams of victory - topped their total up to 43 points, and beating Lazio would see Paolo Zanetti's side tie the club's second-best haul in their Serie A history.

That could also help Empoli finish as high as 13th, after Sassuolo stumbled at home to Fiorentina, which would represent a job well done in Zanetti's first year as coach. Having won each of their last three home matches, the Castellani crowd will anticipate a grandstand finish this weekend.

Empoli Serie A form:

Lazio Serie A form:

Team News

Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri on August 26, 2022© Reuters

Preferring continuity as Lazio seek a third straight win to conclude their campaign, Maurizio Sarri is set to name a similar side to that which fought back for a 3-2 win over Cremonese.

However, Felipe Anderson could unseat Pedro on the right wing; completing a familiar attacking trident along with Mattia Zaccagni and captain Ciro Immobile.

Danilo Cataldi returns from injury in time for the trip to Tuscany, leaving Adam Marusic as the only player unavailable to Sarri on Saturday.

Despite Cataldi's comeback, Matias Vecino is still set to start in midfield, joining Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who has been directly involved in more Serie A strikes than any other midfielder this season (17 - nine of his own and eight assists). The latter needs just one more goal to reach double figures for a third time in the Italian top flight.

Empoli are expected to retain Atalanta loanee Roberto Piccoli up front, with veteran striker Francesco Caputo perhaps starting on the bench after recovering from the illness that kept him sidelined last week. On 21 goals, Caputo lies third in the Azzurri's all-time scoring list in Serie A, having found the net three times in his last three appearances - as many goals as in his previous 33 league games.

Koni De Winter (knee), Tyronne Ebuehi (collarbone) and Razvan Marin (calf) are all ruled out for the hosts due to injury, while Jacopo Fazzini continues to deputise for fellow young gun Tommaso Baldanzi, who is on international duty with Italy's Under-20s.

Meanwhile, Fabiano Parisi and Filippo Bandinelli return from suspension, and both should slot straight back into Paolo Zanetti's first XI.

Empoli possible starting lineup:
Vicario; Stojanovic, Ismajli, Luperto, Parisi; Akpa Akpro, Bandinelli, Grassi; Fazzini; Cambiaghi, Piccoli

Lazio possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Lazzari, Casale, Romagnoli, Hysaj; Milinkovic-Savic, Vecino, Alberto; Anderson, Immobile, Zaccagni

SM words green background

We say: Empoli 1-2 Lazio

Lazio have only lost four times on the road this term, so there is every chance of the Aquile soaring to victory in Empoli - which is no mean feat, given the hosts' recent results there: Sarri's side can score from several sources and also boast the second-best defensive record in Serie A.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic celebrates scoring their first goal with Adam Marusic in January 2023
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