With Juventus not in action until Sunday lunchtime, this evening sees Lazio endeavour to tighten the gap between first and second in Serie A. Three points would see, at least temporarily, Juventus's lead being cut from eight points to five. The visitors to the Stadio Olimpicao are Ivo Pulga's Cagliari, who currently sit just one place and one point above the relegation zone.
One of the leagues tightest defences, welcoming a team with one of the most porous, would logically lead most to the conclusion that a home victory is inevitable. If there is to be a positive for the Sardinians, it is if the teams line out as expected, they will have an average age of three years younger then Vladimir Petkovic's side. That youthful energy will be needed if they are to break down one of the leagues most solid units.
34 Year old German striker Miroslaz Klose will lead the home sides attack. Veteran Tommaso Rocchi has moved to Inter Milan in the transfer window, whilst Libor Kozak and Sergio Floccari remain understudies.
Lazio's starting defence and midfield in a 4-1-4-1 formation should be at it's strongest. The main decision Petkovic will need to make is whether Romanian full back Stefan Radu should start ahead of Bosnian defender Senad Lulic. The only injury concern for the Biancocelesti is the absence of Brazilian Ederson. The midfielder from Sao Paulo has had his first season at the club interrupted by a litany of minor injury problems since his arrival from Lyon in July.
Defenders Davide Astori and Francesco Pisano both miss out for Cagliari. Both Italians are serving suspensions. However midfield stalwart Daniele Conti returns in midfield after serving his own suspension. The 33 year old captain this week extended his contract with the Rossblu for the rest of this calendar year.
With Chilean international Mauricio Pinilla injured, Pulga will partner Brazilian Nene up front with the diminutive Italian, Marco Sau.
With Cagliari having lost their last five matches in Serie A and Lazio having won six of their last seven home matches the likelihood of a surprise away victory is remote. However coach Pulga is no stranger to achieving in the face of adversity. He captained Cagliari under the stewardship of Claudio Ranieri from Serie C1 to Serie A in successive seasons in the late 1980's.
If his side can produce some of that tenacity the Lazio might not have the breezy victory expected by most.