Maribor – Lazio 06.12.2012
Despite being out of contention for the second place in the standings, Maribor aim to try and end their Europa League campaign on a high.
Lazio are already through, but the Biancocelesti arrive in Slovenia hoping to record a win that would see them qualify from the top of the group.
As league champions, Maribor began their European campaign in Champions League qualifying rounds, but after eliminating Zeljeznicar and Dudelange, they had to settle for a place in Europa League group stages, having recorded two defeats to Dinamo Zagreb. Maribor were never given big chances to qualify from this group, but they did take advantage of their opponents’ problems to pick up 4 points from 5 group games. After doing really well to record a 3-0 win over Panathinaikos, the Slovenian side were completely outplayed at home by Tottenham, so they were very fortunate to get one point from the game. Darko Milanic’s side are running on empty at the moment, given they are not used to playing two games every week, and that could cost them a good result in this match. With important league game against Rudar due just three days later, Maribor might not be able to give their best in this match.
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Vladimir Petkovic was the first Lazio boss after quite a while to take Europa League seriously and he was properly rewarded for the positive approach. While resting several first team regulars in every European game, the Bosnian coach also made sure to have at least five or six important players in the side and that has seen the Biancocelesti qualify for the next stage. Even if many would have sacrificed the first place in the standings in favour of resting all starters for the Serie A campaign, Petkovic has refused to do so as he obviously wants his side to win in Slovenia and win the first place in the group. Having brought a very strong squad with him, the boss have every reason to demand a victory from his players. The team are brimming with confidence following an excellent run of results and that should keep Lazio in good stead ahead of the clash with Maribor.