Any team in football must score to win: a header, volley, long-shot, penalty, trivela, own-goal – whatever the type and formulation, goals must be scored. Lazio have not had to worry about this in the last 12 months – they finished the Serie A campaign with the most goals scored (89), and had outscored their opponents 40-0 in the first four friendly matches of pre-season friendlies. However, at certain points throughout the season, we saw that when Lazio was without their Italian prolific scorer Ciro Immobile (who was the capocannoniere last season in the Serie A with 29 goals and top scorer in the Europa League with 8 goals), the squad was not capable of putting up these absurd numbers.
Immobile missed six games last season due to injury – 35 days in total to be exact. For a season that contained 55 matches in all competitions, it’s safe to say Immobile did his best to stay fit to produce numbers for the club. His first absence came in the Europe League group stage against Nice on November 2nd; a match in which Lazio won 1-0, thanks to an own-goal. The next came in a 3-0 victory against Udinese on January 24th – a lower-tier opponent, in which once again an own goal was scored. The last match missed in the first half of the season came only four days later against Milan in an eventual 2-1 loss. A harder opponent, a test failed. Then came the second half of the season. All was well for the Italian attacker and Lazio until the remaining five matchdays (span of less than a month): a hamstring injury occurred which was another three matches to be missed. The first match – though only a 1-0 victory – was against Torino on April 29th, Immobile’s former Italian club. The second was the third-to-last match of the season against Gasperini’s Atalanta on May 6th – a strong and a difficult opponent to break down, especially with the use of the same formation as the biancocelesti. Lazio did find the back of the net, but were held to a 1-1 draw. Finally, was the match was against bottom table side Crotone on May 13th, in what should have been an easy 3 points. Let’s just say for Lazio fans, the name of ‘Ciro Immobile’ being announced on the P.A. system was severely missed. They drew 2-2 with Crotone that day.
Now, when we take a look back at this stretch without the star striker, we can see Lazio were 3/2/1 [Wins/Draws/Losses], with a goal differential of +4 [9 GF/5 GA] a pretty good record. However, when we take a look at the goals scored, especially from Immobile’s vice in his time of absence, the numbers speak volumes. Six starts (1 Europa League match and 5 Serie A matches) for a striker. One goal. This man’s name is Felipe Caicedo, the then-28-year-old Ecuadorian striker bought from Espanyol in the summer of 2017 for €2.5 million in the hopes of backing-up Immobile. My word, how this transaction has gone downhill. In the 2017/18 season, Caicedo was able to score a measly 3 goals in 22 Serie A appearances, enraging laziali worldwide. Fans have begged and called for the management of Lazio to try a new player to back-up Immobile and they are justified in doing so. With the likes of young, talented strikers such as Simone Palombi, Alessandro Rossi, and Pedro Neto, and potential deals swirling around such as Wesley Moraes and Papu Gomez, laziali are questioning why Lazio are continuing to wait. However the phrase “In Tare We Trust” continues to ring in our heads, and although Caicedo may remain in Rome for a little bit longer, his time seems to be coming to an end with change right around the corner.
After Lazio squared-off against Arsenal this past Saturday (in which Immobile was absent so Caicedo started, and fluffed his lines) in an eventual 2-0 loss, fans’ reasoning for a new signing (or trust in youth) have become very emphasized and apparent for the management of Lazio. Seven total opportunities to score a goal – seven opportunities wasted. Now, of course, all of these chances were not solely Caicedo – but he did make fans shout in anger after missing a clear opportunity from a terrific build-up from Lazio.
— Las Vegas Laziali (@LVLaziali) August 4, 2018
With less than two weeks remaining in the transfer window, Lazio need to look to offload the striker, to allow themselves to make a proper signing with experience and potential. Caicedo continues to reveal the same issues as last season – a chance for himself to shine, a mistake, and his hands to his head. Inzaghi’s face said it all after the miss above, and this has concluded the following understanding: currently, without Immobile, Lazio is just not the same Lazio. The biancocelesti are more predictable and less incisive without his presence, and the Neapolitan striker is alone with no verified substitutes.
Will Lazio sell Felipe Caicedo?
Who will be Immobile’s back-up for next season?
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