After a long pre-season at Auronzo di Cadore, Italy and Marienfeld, Germany, Lazio were ready to start their 2018/19 Serie A TIM season against Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico. However, there was an important figure missing from the starting XI – an individual with seven years of experience in Italy, all in Biancocelesti colors. This man is the 32-year-old Bosnian warrior, Senad Lulic, who was suspended ahead of the first match of the season due to an indirect card suspension at the end of the 2017/18 season in the match against Inter (all in all, a match Lulic will surely want to forget).
After a close challenge with Napoli which saw the Eagles lose 2-1, their next two matches came against superpower club Juventus and newly promoted Frosinone – two games in which club captain Senad Lulic would make his return to the starting XI in his usual position on the left flank in a 3-5-1-1 formation. A true leader that brings desire, passion, and hard work to the side, since returning, Senad has had a very positive impact for Lazio so far this season.
Juventus 2-0 Lazio
Although the Biancocelesti fell to the Bianconeri by a score of 2-0, it was still a better performance as a whole compared to the 30-minute performance against Napoli in Matchday 1. Lulic, along with central midfielder Lucas Leiva, had made their return to the lineup which resulted in a positive outcome for Lazio as they began to play a similar style of football to that of last season. Looking at the statistics from the match, Senad had 1 successful dribble, the second most shots with three, the second most tackles with four, 61 touches of the ball and an 84% pass completion percentage (26 of 31). Although his match rating was a mere 6.21, this does not speak volumes about the effort he put into this match. A full 90 minutes played, despite not having a large impact like he has done so many times before, in the past, Senad Lulic’s presence and experience was definitely welcomed back by Simone Inzaghi.
Lazio 1 vs Frosinone 0
Finally. A victory. The first three points of the season for the Biancocelesti. Much more importantly, a terrific team performance throughout the full 90 minutes of the match compared to the previous two. The phrase ‘third time’s a charm‘ appeared in all Laziali’s minds as despite what seems at a first glance to be a lackluster outing with only one goal against a lower-tier side, it was a match that provided entertainment for everyone at the Stadio Olimpico. Once again, the same starting XI played as in the match against Juventus with Lulic in the left wing-back position. A man of the match performance, Lulic looked like his former self against the giallazzurri. The Bosnian had a 7.84 rating in the match – his statistics consisted of two shots, 89 touches of the ball, the most dribbles attempted (4) and completed (2), six key passes, and an 86% pass success percentage (51 of 59). Moving forward, Lulic was a hassle for Frosinone. Every time he touched the ball, something positive came out of the situation. This was mostly due to Lazio’s high press on and off the ball, along with his stamina. For 32 years of age, his capability of being able to dominate the flanks portrays the knowledge and experience of the game that he has.
A true Capitano, Lazio will hope Senad Lulic is able to keep up this extraordinary form. This is because with Belgian left-footed defender Jordan Lukaku injured, the left flank has only one real alternative in the form of summer transfer window signing Riza Durmisi from Real Betis. Yes, Uruguayan and former Juventus defender Martin Caceres has the ability to play in this position, but Durmisi was purchased for this exact reason – to take over from Senad Lulic. However, after failing to impress in pre-season, it looks like Simone Inzaghi will continue to entrust in Lulic to perform.