Football: Bari face Lazio barrage

Italian Football
Click to follow
The Independent Online
LAZIO, THE best team in Serie A at present, promise to give Bari, their southern hosts, a rough ride in tomorrow's live game on Channel 4. Lazio, beaten 3-1 by Internazionale in the Uefa Cup final last season, and favourites to relieve Chelsea of their Cup-Winners' Cup this term, went all out in the summer to assemble a side capable of winning the Scudetto. Rome's big spenders splashed out pounds 31m to bring Christian Vieri (pounds 19m), the Italian international striker, back to Italy from Atletico Madrid and Marcelo Salas (pounds 12m), the brilliant Chilean hit man, over from River Plate.

However, thanks to a plethora of early season injuries, Lazio made a sluggish start to their campaign and Bari exploited this by going to Rome and nicking a point in a 0-0 draw in the second week of the season.

However, back to full strength, Lazio have been awesome of late. They won their sixth Serie A game on the trot when travelling to Parma to give their hosts a 3-1 beating 13 days ago, and last week Lazio made it seven on the spin with a 4-1 demolition of Piacenza at the Olympic Stadium. That left them second in the table, three points behind Fiorentina.

Lazio were beaten 5-2 (6-4 on aggregate) by Internazionale in the Italian Cup on Wednesday but that trophy has a fraction of the significance of its FA counterpart, and Lazio should return to form this weekend. Bari, ninth following their controversial 2-1 defeat at Venezia last week - Tuta, who scored the host's winner, claimed a team-mate had told him to play for a draw - may find life tough, even on their home turf.

Bari are at full strength while Lazio are without the suspended Argentinian midfielder Matias Almeyda but welcome back the Czech Republic midfielder Pavel Nedved.

OTHER GAMES: Tomorrow afternoon: Cagliari v Juventus; Fiorentina v Vicenza; Milan v Salernitana; Parma v Venezia; Perugia v Sampdoria; Piacenza v Internazionale; Roma v Empoli. Tomorrow night: Udinese v Bologna.