Serie A was in the midst of a lockout, but have remedied the situation to enable at least one season to get underway. The short-term fix allows Friday to present a whirlwind matchup between Italian powers.
AC Milan and Lazio have drawn in their last three meetings. So don't go expecting a blowout. This will be a tightly fought affair that will entertain and enliven.
I can't think of a better way to get the Serie A season underway. Here are all the crucial details to the AC Milan vs. Lazio contest:
Where: San Siro, Milan, Italy
When: Friday, September 9th, 2:45 PM ET
Watch: Fox Soccer Channel, coverage starts at 2:30 PM ET
Betting Line: Moneyline - AC Milan -160, Lazio +450, Draw +250
Key Injuries: Both teams are relatively healthy entering the opening salvo. The big injury will be Milan midfielder Mathieu Flamini. Flamini will miss several months after knee surgery.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kevin-Prince Boateng should be well-healed from minor injuries suffered in the last few weeks.
The Milan attack should be at near full strength, which doesn't bode well for Lazio taking an away fixture at the San Siro.
Biggest Storyline: The elephant in the room will be the strike that almost saw the entire Serie A season evacuated. A late compromise helped save this season.
Keep in mind that this is a one-year deal. For the next few months we will be inundated with updates pertaining to AIC, the player's union and LEGA, the Italian clubs' union.
The main area of contention is the Solidarity Tax and whether a club can drop players from training with the first team.
Player to Watch For AC Milan: Kevin-Prince Boateng is a powerful figure in the middle of last year's Serie A champions.
Boateng is a physical player that loves to push the attack. The only thing he may like more is a flair for the dramatic or moonwalking—like he did when Milan won the Scudetto.
Player to Watch For Lazio: One striker leaves and another must step up to assure depth of play. Mauro Zarate has gone to Inter, making Miroslav Klose that much more crucial to Lazio rising in the ranks.
The passionate striker will be front and center in the Lazio attack.
What They’re Saying: Milan keeper Christian Abbiatti thinks that Europe should look to Milan for a blueprint for success:
"Everyone talks about the Barcelona model but we have been the model to follow since 2000 and we don't even know it. We won the Champions League in 2003 and the year after we slipped up. We were in the final of 2005 and two years later we were European champions again."
Newly departed striker Mauro Zarate describes the anguish of being sold at the transfer deadline:
"It's awful being sold on the last day of the transfer window, I didn't sleep for a week and that's the first time that's happened to me. No-one could turn down an offer from Inter and I'm ready to wear this shirt and to play. I will be a new Mauro, I'll change, I'll pass the ball more. There's a clause in my contract which rewards me for assists."
Prediction: AC Milan 3, Lazio 2