The Round of 16 Draw for the Europa League was announced this afternoon, but what can Lazio expect from Dynamo Kiev.
Lazio were the second team to be pulled out of the hat by former Barcelona legend Eric Abidal in the draw for the Round of 16 this afternoon and Simone Inzaghi’s men will be confident that they can progress through to the Quarter-Finals of a European Competition for the first time since the 2012-13 edition of the Europa League as the Aquile were handed a favourable draw against Dynamo Kiev.
The meeting between these two sides will be the first for 19 years, the last time the two squared off was in the 1999-00 edition of the Champions League in the group stages. Lazio did the double over Dynamo Kiev winning 2-1 at home and 1-0 away. That Lazio side was managed by Sven-Göran Eriksson and went on to win the Scudetto and Coppa Italia in the same season with a squad that featured some world class players such as Alessandro Nesta, Pavel Nedved, Diego Simeone and Marcelo Salas. An interesting piece of information is that the current Lazio manager, Simone Inzaghi, was playing for Lazio during the same season.
Despite being favourites to progress through to the Quarter-Finals Lazio must not underestimate Dynamo Kiev. Dynamo Kiev are currently second in the Ukranian Premier League, only three points behind first placed Shakhtar Donetsk, and the side managed by Alyaksandr Khatsevich play at the intimidating Ukranian Olympic Stadium that holds over 70,000 and is hosting this season’s Champions League Final.
Dynamo Kiev boast some very talented players and Lazio will want to especially keep an eye on the Brazilian forward Júnior Moraes who has contributed 10 goals in 23 appearances this season and is the side’s leading goalscorer.
Lazio will go into the tie with confidence and due to Simone Inzaghi’s tactics and the fact that Lazio have some top quality players in Sergej Milinković-Savić, Luis Alberto and Stefan De Vrij. Most importantly though Lazio have one of the best strikers in the world at the moment in Ciro Immobile. Immobile has scored a stunning 31 goals in 31 appearances this season and became the first Italian player in history to score a hat-trick in the Europa League with his three goals in the second leg of the Round of 32 clash against Steaua Bucharest. Most impressively for Immobile though the Italian International has more goals and assists than Harry Kane, Mo Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo this season.
The first leg of this Round of 16 Europa League fixture is at the Stadio Olimpico on March 8 and the second leg is at the Olympic National Sports Complex on March 15. i Biancocelesti will most likely progress through to the next round but Simone Inzaghi and his fantastic Lazio must take their opponents seriously and keep their focus over both legs.