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Rabotnicki against Lazio in the Europa League

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Europa Legaue drawEuropa Legaue drawItalian side S.S. Lazio is the opponent of Rabotnicki in the qualifications' play-off of the UEFA Europa League.

Tough but attractive draw for Rabotnicki. Lazio will face the club from Debar Maalo in the last round before the group stage. The first leg will be played at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on the 18th of August while the return leg is scheduled for the 25th of August at the National Arena Philip II of Macedon in Skopje.

Rabotnicki was in the Group 5 of the draw and could have been drawn against PSV Eindhoven, Dynamo Kyiv, Celtic, Birmingham City or Rapid Bucureşti as well, but the destiny chose the Italians.The red&white have never faced any Serie A club before. Lazio will the heavy favorite, but Anorthosis had the same role as well in the previous round.

The Macedonian club have made it all the way since the Round 1, eliminating Trans (Estonia), Juvenes/Dogana (San Marino) and Anorthosis (Cyprus).

Lazio is a very good Italian team that has made solid additions this summer with the signings of Miroslav Klose, Djibril Cissé, Abdoulay Konko, Lorik Cana, Senad Lulić, and Federico Marchetti.  As most Macedonian fans are aware, Lazio is the club where Goran Pandev made his name from 2004 to 2010 before a bitter contract dispute resulted in him leaving the club to join Inter.  The President of the club is Claudio Lotito who is known as being very stubborn but he is slowly building a very strong Lazio side.  The Italian team has good depth at most positions and they will be a very tough opponent for the young squad of Rabotnicki.  The preferred formation for Lazio manager Edy Reja is either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-1-2 formation.  From last year, Lazio lost two key players in keeper Fernando Muslera and right-back Stephan Lichsteiner but they quickly replaced them with Marchetti and Konko.

As for Rabotnicki, the club is likely to stick with the 4-4-2 formation that has worked well up to this point.  The keeper should be the 17 year old Stole Dimitrievski who is drawing interest from abroad due to his good performances.  The only question for the defense is the health of CB Igor Stojanov.  He could be back for the first leg and if he recovers, then the defense will be Baze Todorovski, Igor Stojanov, Pance Kumbev, and Dimitrija Lazarevski from right the left.  If Stojanov does not recover from his injury, then Goran Bogdanovik wil start next to Kumbev.  The midfield will consist of Milovan Petrovik on the right, the impressive 16 year old Darko Velkovski and Stephan Vujčić in the middle, and Ivan Nastevski on the left.  The two strikers up front will be Krste Velkoski and Borce Manevski who must improve his finishing skills.  Manevski has missed some big chances during the Europa League qualifications.  Rabotnicki might also decide to strengthen the team with some new signings as more depth and experience is needed at some vital positions.

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