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Lazio or Galatasaray: who will win?

Çetin Cem Yılmaz weighs up Galatasaray's chances of saving their season as they travel to Lazio with a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 at stake.

Lionel Carole prepares to challenge Lazio forward Felipe Anderson during the first leg
Lionel Carole prepares to challenge Lazio forward Felipe Anderson during the first leg ©AFP/Getty Images

Why Galatasaray will win

1. 'Poldi' is back on track 
Galatasaray will need to up their game at both ends in Rome. With prolific striker Burak Yılmaz the latest high-profile departure for China earlier this week, the goalscoring burden will have to be shouldered by somebody else. Step forward Lukas Podolski, who is showing signs of a return to form after a six-week lay-off, scoring in the last two Süper Lig matches.

2. Italian lessons 
Galatasaray have lost just twice in their past 14 meetings with Italian opposition, and not since a 2-1 defeat at Juventus in 2003. The odds have often been stacked against them but the sight of the Tricolore seems to get them going. Who could forget Wesley Sneijder's goal against Juventus in 2013 that sent Galataray through to the UEFA Champions League last 16 at Juve's expense?

Highlights: Galatasaray 1-1 Lazio

3. Lazio are susceptible to being caught cold 
Lazio have drawn blanks in four of their last six fixtures, with Sergej Milinković-Savić's first-leg strike the only one they have scored before the 45th minute in 2016. If Galatasaray can hit the ground running – and after what's been a disappointing season there should be plenty of appetite – then the Italian side could be left in the blocks.

Why Lazio will win

Felipe Anderson
Felipe Anderson©Getty Images

1. Lazio can run hot 
Led by the tricky Felipe Anderson, Lazio's energetic front line caused problems in Istanbul and Galatasaray were somewhat fortunate to concede just once. Their well of attacking talent runs deep and while they have struggled to find the breakthrough in recent months, once the Biancocelesti get one goal the second and third are usually not too far behind.

2. Galatasaray's defensive frailties 
The Turkish team have not managed a clean sheet in 15 outings in European competition. They did well last week, though coach Mustafa Denizli did field seven players who were originally defenders in his XI and still required keeper Fernando Muslera to run through his shot-stopping repertoire. They may be obliged to force the pace in Italy, which could play into Lazio's hands.

When Galatasaray and Lazio met in 2001

3. All roads lead to Rome 
If Lazio have laboured on their travels this term, on their own turf Stefano Pioli's men are another proposition. Their 19 home games in all competitions have brought 12 wins, three draws and merely four defeats (v AC Milan, Napoli and Juventus twice) compared with four victories in 18 on the road. Furthermore, Lazio are unbeaten in the UEFA Europa League this season.

4. Galatasaray's away day blues 
Like Lazio, Galatasaray have been unhappy travellers in 2015/16 – they have not won an away league match since October. It is three years since Cimbom's last European triumph outside Istanbul. Since then they have lost nine and drawn two.

But ... Galatasaray's last European away success came in March 2013, when they prevailed 3-2 at Schalke in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. The first-leg score? 1-1.