The Rabotnicki players; photo: rabotnicki.com

Europa League preview: Lazio vs. Rabotnicki

The Rabotnicki players; photo: rabotnicki.comRabotnicki faces a daunting challenge today as they take on Lazio in the first leg of the play-off round of the Europa League qualifications.  Will Lazio underestimate Rabotnicki?  How will the younger players of Rabotnicki respond to facing a big club on the road?  These are some of the questions as Lazio enters the game as a huge favorite.

As many of you are aware, Rabotnicki arrived in Italy undermanned without their top 3 CB’s because of suspensions and injuries.  Pance Kumbev will miss the first leg due to picking up two yellow cards in the competition while Igor Stojanov and Goran Bogdanovik have been ruled out due to an injury.  The absences of these three players will force some players to play out of position.  Rabotnicki will stick with a 4-4-2 formation with Darko Micevski moving into the starting lineup at LB while Dimitrija Lazarevski shifts from LB to CB where he will partner Dino Najdoski.  Blaze Todorovski will complete the defense by starting at RB.  It is important to note that Micevski is usually a midfielder but will play LB during this game so Lazio will probably attack his side vigorously and test whether Micevski can handle the defensive responsibilities for that position.  The midfield should remain the same as in the previous matches with Petrovik, Velkovski, Vujčić, and Nastevski from right to left.  It will be interesting to see how the 16 year old Darko Velkovski will respond to this match against a big side on the road.  The attack will consist of Borce Manevski and Krste Velkoski.  The starting keeper will be the 17 year old Stole Dimitrievski who will certainly be tested early and often by the talented attackers from Lazio.

                                                           This is the expected formation for Rabotnicki:

                                                                                      Dimitrievski

                                                             Todorovski-Najdoski-Lazarevski-Micevski

                                                                Petrovik-Velkovski-Vujčić-Nastevski

                                                                              Manevski-Velkoski

As for the opponents, reports out of Italy state that Lazio will likely field a 4-2-3-1 formation.  Goalkeeper Federico Marchetti and attackers Miroslav Klose and Djibril Cissé are expected to start and make their debuts for Lazio during this game.  Rabotnicki will have to keep a close eye on Lazio playmaker Hernanes who has been in great form during the preseason friendlies.  Talented, but inconsistent, winger Mauro Zárate is not expected to play for Lazio as there is still a chance that the Italian club might sell him this summer so they will probably not use him during the game.  Lazio will field a strong lineup but their weak link is expected to be on the right side of their defense as Lionel Scaloni should start for the still injured RB Abdoulay Konko.  Konko was signed to replace the departing Stephan Lichtsteiner who was sold to Juventus earlier in the summer.

                                                                     Expected formation for Lazio:

                                                                                    Marchetti

                                                                     Scaloni-Biava-Dias-Radu

                                                                           Ledesma-Brocchi

                                                                      Cissé-Hernanes-Mauri

                                                                                     Klose

The match will be played at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with the game starting at 21:00 CET.  The referee of the game will be Sergei Karasev from Russia.

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