A place in the Coppa Italia semi-final is at stake when two Italian giants lock horns in a quarter-final clash. Here are the Three Keys to this showdown. You can bet on this match here.
Mauro Icardi v Ciro Immobile
Mauro Icardi, Inter Milan’s talisman, will definitely have a big say in this clash on Thursday night. With 14 goals and two assists in 25 appearances in all competitions this season, the Argentine will be expected to provide the important goals for the Nerazzurri against a daunting opponent in Lazio. However, the lethal striker has failed to find the back of the net against Italy’s top two Napoli and Juventus but he will feel confident going into this match given he scored twice the last time these two met.
Ciro Immobile and Icardi finished as joint top scorers in Serie A last season. Immobile is Biancocelesti’s most important player. Given this is the team’s best chance at silverware this season and Immobile will look to rediscover his goalscoring touch. Inter’s defence should be wary of the 28-year-old who has three goals in the last two matches. The Italian has 14 goals in 26 appearances this season in all competitions. Both defences will have an almost impossible job of keeping these two potent forward men quiet.
Youth v Experience
When these two teams walk out of the tunnel all eyes will be on two of Serie A’s strikers in Immobile and Icardi. However, Thomas Strakosha, a player whose performances have gone under the radar at Lazio, will also play a huge part in Thursday’s encounter. At only 23 years of age, the Albanian international has cemented his position as the first-choice goalkeeper at the club. He played every single Serie A match last season evidence of the trust shown in him by head coach Simone Inzaghi. However, he can’t have an off night when he faces off with the like of Icardi and Lautaro Martinez.
At the opposite end, he will face Inter’s shot-stopper Samir Handanovic. The 34-year-old veteran goalkeeper has seen it all and done it all and, after joining Inter in 2012, the Slovenian has grown to become one of the best keepers in the world. He has appeared in all 21 of Nerazzurri’s Serie A matches and leads the league with 11 clean sheets this season.
Luciano Spalletti v Simone Inzaghi
Luciano Spalletti is under immense pressure at Inter. A Champions League return for the first time since the 2011-2012 season did not end well for him after his side exited at the group stages. His team has also been underperforming lately, putting him on the spotlight on Thursday. He has lost just once in the last five games against Inzaghi and will be hoping for more of the same. The former AS Roma coach feels the Coppa Italia is probably the only genuine chance of silverware this season given Serie A champions Juventus’ imperious form.
Simone Inzaghi’s transformation of Lazio in the last few seasons has been remarkable. The 42-year-old has taken the team from perennial underachievers to top four challengers in no less than two seasons in charge. Although he has started this season on the wrong foot, Inzaghi has steadied the ship and his side now sit eighth, just three points off the top four.