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Lazio’s task of keeping the UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) trophy in Rome and emulating city rivals Roma, who took the trophy home last season, continued with a win over Cluj by a aggregate score of 1-0 in the knockout phase. Those two matches are part of a run of impressive defensive displays that have seen Lazio keep their clean sheet for around eight hours of play (W4, D1), including a 1-0 win against the Serie leaders A, Napoli, in their previous presentation.

Maurizio Sarri’s side have already come up against Dutch opposition this season, with the home team taking both wins in the Europa League group stage against Feyenoord, an all-time record holder. from Lazio against teams from the Netherlands perfectly balanced (G3, D2, P3). With just one loss in the four games in that sequence in Rome (W2, D1, P1), Lazio can be sure to justify their favorite status here against big Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar.

Avoiding the play-off round after finishing top of their group (W5, L1), AZ gave a round of applause when they were drawn with Lazio «due to the size of the club,» according to manager Pascal Jansen. He would do well not to be intimidated by the occasion, however, as the Eredivisie title contenders look to emulate another Dutch club, Feyenoord, who reached the UECL final last season.

A positive all-time record against Italian opposition can give the Cheese Heads hope (W3, D1, P2), but it is likely that they will need to be in better form than in their last three competitive away matches (W1, D1, P1). if they want to set foot in their first quarter-final of a European competition since 2013/14. If AZ’s history of games at continental level this season continues in the same way, it is possible that this clash will deliver a winner one way or another, as none of their away games in Europe this season have ended in a draw. (G4, P2).

Players to watch: Mattia Zaccagni, one of their biggest goal contributors in Serie A (G8, A4), but who picked up a yellow card in a five-match run that came to an end last month, could be key for Lazio . Looking to stop him will be AZ full-back Milos Kerkez, who returns to Italy after a spell in the youth ranks at AC Milan. He was involved in a third of AZ’s goals in the group stage (one goal, three assists).

Highlight: Excluding qualifying, AZ are winless in their last nine knockout games at European level (D3, L6), a club-record losing streak.