Currently in 8th place in Serie A, far from the title race, Lazio players can nevertheless still claim qualification for the European Cup (only 2 points behind Bologna, 5th). But above all they hope to qualify for the quarter-finals of this Champions League despite a clash with Bayern Munich, diminished by numerous injuries.
In a group that was not particularly strong, at least on paper, the Romans had started their European campaign very well. With a first point snatched at home against Atletico Madrid (1-1, September 19, 2023) then an away victory against Celtic Glasgow (2-1), Lazio quickly took an option. Traveling to Feyenoord to finish the first leg, the Biancazzurri were surprised (3-1) before rebounding two weeks later at home (1-0) against the same Dutch.
Then as a symbol, during the 5th day it was captain Ciro Immobile who scored a double against the Scots Celtic (2-0). During the last meeting, to take the lead of the group, Maurizio Sarri's men challenged Diego Simeone's Colchoneros away. Guided by a goalscorer Antoine Griezmann, the Spaniards won in this final of Group E (2-0) and thus won first place.
In a few hours, Lazio will launch, for the third time in its history, a double direct elimination confrontation in the Champions League. To hope to match the club's best performance in this competition, the Romans will have to get past Bayern Munich, who came out of their group without trembling in front of Copenhagen. The challenge is daunting in the face of the Bavarian ogre, but for once the latter seems more achievable.
In the championship, Thomas Tuchel's players are ahead of Xabi Alonso's surprising Bayer Leverkusen, after a heavy defeat against them this Sunday (3-0). In difficulty since the start of 2024, the Munich residents have lost 2 matches in their last 5. With a full infirmary, the German technician must find solutions but is starting to lack resources, even in a squad as full as that of Bayern Munich.
If Joshua Kimmich and Dayot Upamecano returned to training, Manuel Neuer and Noussair Mazraoui were both absent on Monday during the collective session. Added to this is the absence of Kingsley Coman, Bouna Sarr, Serge Gnabry, Konrad Laimer and Alphonso Davies. Between the lack of results and the absence of a significant number of starters, it is therefore an injured Bayern who will stand on the lawn of the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
To attend one of the club's most important matches, this lair which has already experienced so many iconic moments will shake again. To thrill the many faithful, one man will have to best fulfill his role as captain, Ciro Immobile. The Italian striker has already scored 3 goals in this European campaign, as well as 6 in Serie A. Alongside him, the experienced Pedro (36 years old) as well as the Brazilian, Felipe Anderson (3 goals, 7 assists), are having a good season and want to continue to push the club onto the European scene.
But to do this, it will also be necessary to contain the Bavarian attackers, at least those who are still present. Between youth and experience, the people of Munich want to reign over Europe again. Harry Kane, in Olympic form since his arrival in Germany (28 goals, 8 assists) and Leroy Sané (10 goals, 12 assists) are perfectly supported by Jamal Musiala (7 goals, 3 assists) and Mathys Tel (6 goals, 3 passes).
Even if the offensive sector is doing wonderfully, it is rather behind that Bayern can have difficulty. Usually carried by an impassable Neuer, the German goalkeeper is once again hampered by injuries after his knee fracture last season, to which is added a decimated defense. Despite these problems, a way will have to be found to contain the Italian offensives during this first confrontation.
Building on a success this weekend against Cagliari (3-1), the Romans approach this meeting with all the confidence required to bring down an injured beast. But even on one knee, Bayern Munich are not the type to admit defeat. A gladiator duel in Rome on Valentine's Day is the recipe for a perfect evening.