While the race for the Scudetto is all but over, the fight for UCL qualification is very much alive; only 2 points separate third place from sixth. Sandwiched between those two places in fourth and fifth are Lazio and Atalanta, respectively, both of whom will be highly motivated to find their way into the top four after missing out a year ago. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks in what could be a pivotal Serie A clash.
Lazio vs. Atalanta Odds
Lazio are slight favorites at home, with a moneyline of +135. Atalanta are set at +190, while the draw is +230. The odds on a goalscoring of 2.5 are pretty even, with the over at -120 and the under at even money, +100.
Lazio vs. Atalanta Prediction & Pick
Lazio were in pretty good form not too long ago, coming off of a 4-0 drubbing of defending champs AC Milan. However, since then, they’ve had two frustrating 1-1 draws in the league, and a 1-0 loss in a Coppa Italia match against Juventus. With a huge stretch coming up in terms of league positioning, as well as a Europa Conference League play-off looming, they need to figure things out in a big way if this season is going to be remembered as a success. Atalanta are also in a similar position, minus any sort of European competition. They had a really nice run of form when Serie A resumed after the World Cup, but they’ve lost their last two matches, both 1-0 defeats, one in the league and one in the Cup. These are two solid teams, but both are at an inflection point in their season; the next few results will set the tone for the rest of the way, not to mention the opportunity to pick up extremely valuable points.
The total is a tough one; we’re looking at the third (Atalanta) and fourth (Lazio) highest scoring sides in Serie A, but both are in something of a scoring slump. Lazio are also the second-best defensive side in Serie A, with Atalanta down in 7th, and both defenses are in pretty good form. However, I’m going to trust both attacks to get back on track, or at least one to get on track in a huge way, and pick over 2.5 goals at -120. The value is good, with recent form deflating expectations, and both teams have the talent to get on the scoresheet. For the result, it’s pretty straightforward to me; with form being fairly even, as well as squad health, I’m going with the team I simply believe to be better, and that’s Lazio. They’ve been sneaky-good this year, they’ve never pushed for the top of the table but they have the second-best goalscoring differential in Serie A, behind only Napoli, they’re the home team, and back in October, they even beat Atalanta in Bergamo. Everything is lined up for an important win, so I’m taking Lazio +135 to win this one.
Lazio Attack vs. Atalanta Defense
This Lazio attack is an interesting one, largely because it’s not just Ciro Immobile doing the heavy lifting. Almost every year of his tenure, he’s had twice as many goals as anyone else on the team, four times as many in his remarkable 2019-20 campaign. But this year, he has help. In fact, he doesn’t even lead the team in league goals, that honor goes to Mattia Zaccagni with 8 to Immobile’s 7. Zaccagni has also chipped in 4 assists, while attacking midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has 4 goals and 8 assists amidst an outstanding season. Top it all off with Brazilian winger Felipe Anderson’s 6 goals and 2 assists, and in year 2 under Maurizio Sarri, Lazio have their most-balanced attack in recent memory.
Atalanta’s defense takes the shape of a back three, with two wingback/midfielder hybrids flanking a wide midfield four. Veteran centre-back Rafael Tolói is the anchor, as he’s having an outstanding season. He’s joined by fellow Italian Giorgio Scalvini, who is having a really impressive age-18 season, and as of late, Albanian international Berat Djimsiti. The fullbacks have generally been Hans Hateboer and Joakim Maehle, both of whom are having decent if unspectacular seasons, but the latter is on a disciplinary suspension, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team handles his absence. It’s a very capable defense which has been playing well, and they’ll need to keep their good form to pick up a big road win.
Atalanta Attack vs. Lazio Defense
In contrast to Lazio, what once was a similarly balanced attack from Atalanta is now essentially a one-man show; newcomer Ademola Lookman has poured in 12 goals and 3 assists in Serie A play, putting him at 1.12 goal contributions per 90 minutes played. His strong Serie A debut season is coming at just the right time, as production from veterans Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel has completely fallen off. Midfielder Teun Koopmeiners has been arguably the best player on the team, and is second on the team with 6 goals and 3 assists from his deeper role. As far as true forwards, Jeremie Boga has been a standout with 5 assists in extremely limited time- his 1.15 per 90 is easily a team-leading figure.
Lazio’s back four is anchored by a pair of Italian centre-backs, Alessio Romagnoli and Nicolò Casale, who are both having pretty solid seasons. Manuel Lazzari is going to usually be at right back, although Elseid Hysaj has picked up a few minutes in that role. Perhaps saving best for last, Montenegrin left back Adam Marusic is having a nice breakthrough season, as he leads all Lazio outfield players in minutes played, and has arguably been the best player on a pretty solid defense. Best outfield player, I should say, because goalkeeper Ivan Provedel is having a really strong year himself. It’s a stout defense, one of the best in Italy, and it’s really excelled despite a lack of big-name stars. Let’s see if they’re up to the challenge this Saturday.