Football Italian preview: Rampant Lazio face tricky Cagliari trip

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CAGLIARI, HARDLY the top club in Italy but no pushover at home, will be out to halt Lazio's tremendous run of league form in tomorrow Channel 4 Serie A game, delayed coverage of which will be screened tomorrow afternoon.

Lazio, second to Fiorentina in the table but favourites to lift the Scudetto after recovering from early-season injuries to embark on a nine-match winning run, will be aiming to equal a league record that has stood for nearly 60 years by winning their 10th straight game. Juventus set the mark in the 1931-32 season, and it has been matched only twice since.

Their pounds 31m strike duo, Christian Vieri (six goals in six games since returning from a knee injury) and the Chilean Marcelo "the matador" Salas (11 goals), have been in awesome form - they were both on the mark in last week's 3-0 win over Perugia - and they do not lack support from midfield. Roberto Mancini, the Portuguese Sergio Conceicao and the Czech Pavel Nedved give Rome's big spenders tremendous strength in depth.

However, although only mid-table, their hosts, Cagliari, who drew 0-0 at Sampdoria last week, are tough to beat at home. They have won six and drawn two of their 10 homes games this term.

Christian Vieri faces a late test after missing Italy's midweek friendly against Norway, while the Portuguese Fernando Couto is out with a pulled muscle. Cagliari are without their key midfielder Tiziano De Patre, but Gianni Cavezzi returns to take his place.

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