What: UEFA Europa League – Group J
Who: Lazio vs Tottenham Hotspur
When: Thursday 22nd November, 2012, at 18:00 UK time
Where: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy

Getting the Job Done

Leading Group J with eight points, Lazio will be looking to confirm qualification for the next round of the 2012/13 Europa League with a win over visitors Tottenham. At home at the Stadio Olimpico, the Biancoceleste will relish their chances against a Spurs side that have suffered back-to-back defeats domestically.

Lazio know that a win would seal a knockout spot, but they hold an abysmal record against English opposition with just three wins in thirteen matches. Furthermore, the Italians remain winless in their last eight games against English sides.

Knowing that the team struggled to qualify last year, midfielder Hernanes declared that Lazio will do things differently this time around however.

“Last year we struggled to get through the round, this year we want to end things as soon as possible”, said the Brazilian. “We will, however, take to the pitch with the right state of mind."
Lazio boast a smaller number of injured players than their opponents, but will see Lorik Cana sit this one out through as the result of an accumulated number of yellow cards, while veteran German striker Miroslav Klose is a big miss.

Getting Back on Track

Tottenham Hotspur’s domestic aspirations took two heavy blows in the space of a week, as Andre Villas-Boas’ side endured defeats against English big guns Manchester City and Arsenal. With just six points from their four Europa League group stage games so far, a win against Lazio in the Italian capital would allow Spurs to top the group with one game to go.

Having started the North London derby in good fashion at the weekend, Spurs suffered badly with the dismissal of Emmanuel Adebayor early on, prompting an assault from foes Arsenal that ended in a catastrophic 5-2 defeat for the Lilywhites. Having dropped to eighth position in the Premier League standings, Spurs will have to make it up to their fans watching at home – and those making the trip to Italy – with a victory over Lazio. But that will not be easy against a good side that held Villas-Boas' men to a 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane.

Spurs have a good record against Italian teams though, having lost only two out of eight games. However, both these setbacks were on Italian soil.

Recent form

Lazio 3-0 Panathinaikos (08/11; Europa League)
Lazio 3-2 Roma (11/11; Serie A)
Juventus 0-0 Lazio (17/11; Serie A)

Tottenham Hotspur:
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Maribor (08/11; Europa League)
Manchester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur (11/11; Premier League)
Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur (17/11; Premier League)

Key absences

Lazio: Stefano Mauri (doubt); Lorik Cana (suspended); Miroslav Klose

Tottenham Hotspur: Steven Caulker (doubt); Moussa Dembele; Benoit Assou-Ekotto; Younes Kaboul; Scott Parker

Players to watch

Lazio – Abdoulay Konko: The right-back will have to be careful on the night as he comes face to face with Gareth Bale. Knowing that the Welsh winger is one of the fastest out there, Konko holds perhaps the most demanding task of any Lazio player.

Tottenham Hotspur – Jermain Defoe: The striker scored a hat-trick in the team’s last Europa League game against Maribor, but things may prove to be different this time around. However, Defoe possesses the skill to make it happen for Spurs.

Match Prediction

Lazio held their own against Juventus in Serie A last weekend, preventing the Bianconeri from scoring on their own turf, while they also come into this off a good win in the Rome derby a week earlier. Tottenham meanwhile could be forgiven for heading to Rome still affected by defeats against Arsenal and Manchester City. It may be hard for them to quickly get back in the saddle and impose themselves at the Stadio Olimpico. Expect the home side to win this one.

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