Lazio vs Galatasaray: The Aquile hope to edge out the Turkish giants

Galatasaray v Lazio
REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Lazio will hope to maintain their good European home form as they welcome Galatasaray to the Stadio Olimpico for the second leg of their round of 32 Europa League clash on Thursday.

The Biancocelesti have not been impressive in Serie A this season – with a poor performance seeing them drop two points against lowly Frosinone this past weekend – but Stefano Pioli’s men have been an entirely different outfit when it comes to continental competition. After failing to make it past Bayer Leverkusen for a Champions League play-off spot, Lazio have made themselves at home in the Europa League, where they cruised through their group stage matches with four wins and two draws to top their quartet.

Thanks to a goal from Sergej Milinković-Savić to cancel out Sabri Sarıoğlu’s effort – which was the latter’s first European goal in seven years – Thursday’s hosts are in an excellent position to make it to the round of 16. They have won all four of their European matches contested at the Stadio Olimpico, scoring three goals in the past trio, and all in all have a good historical record against Turkish sides. In fact, out of their last 13 European matches, the Aquile have only lost twice, and have never been defeated at home.

Nonetheless, Pioli, who will be without Keita due to a ban and Stefan de Vrij, Dusan Basta, and likely Santiago Gentiletti due to injury, will not be counting on mere history and stats to lead his side to the next round. This will be the fourth meeting between Lazio and Galatasaray, and just as this current tie is resting on a knife’s edge, their head-to-head record is evenly split down the middle with one win for each side prior to last week’s draw. Interestingly, both teams recorded a 1-0 win on their respective home turfs during the 2001/2002 Champions League group stages, meaning that although Lazio hold a slight advantage due to their away goal, the upcoming 90 minutes will be anyone’s game.

Like Lazio, Galatasaray have not had the most impressive domestic campaign, and Mustafa Denizli’s side are in the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group. Still, the draw with Lazio means that their unbeaten home record against Italian sides still stands; however, they have had their share of troubles on the road. In fact, the Turkish giants have not won an away European game since beating Schalke 3-2 in the 2012/2013 Champions League round of 16.

Additionally, Galatasaray have never won a European game against an Italian side in Italy, with six losses and five draws in their past 11 attempts. Sinan Gumus and Hamit Altintop are the only absentees for the visitors for Thursday’s match, and ex-Lazio goalkeeper Fernando Muslera will be hoping to keep some of his former colleagues at bay as the visitors look to book their place in the Europa League round of 16 for the first time since the 2008/2009 season.

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Michelle Bonsu

Freelance football journalist based in New York. Primarily support AC Milan as well as the Ghanaian and Italian NT’s, but you’ll find me watching the Bundesliga and Premier League as well–enjoy a good game, regardless of where it’s being played. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of my favourite players.