It has been over three months since Lazio played their last match. They defeated Bologna 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico back in February and were one point back of Juventus for the first place. The Biancocelesti were enjoying a memorable season which had them in a position to win their first Scudetto since 1999/00.
Ciro Immobile was on pace to break Gonzalo Higuain’s scoring record of 36 goals in Serie A and wore the captain’s armband in place of Senad Lulic in high regard this season. Luis Alberto was showing the spark he had back in 2017/18, as he currently leads the league with 11 assists. He developed good chemistry with Immobile which was a major factor of Lazio’s success this season. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was showing great form this year, after a disappointing campaign last season. The midfielder was constantly rumoured to be sold last year and it was a good decision by the club to hold onto him for another year. He stepped up in crucial matches such as their matchup against Juventus where he scored a pivotal goal. Simone Inzaghi has been a great leader for the Biancocelesti as they are playing their best football in quite some time. They are unbeaten in 21 straight matches and set a new winning record of 12 straight games. Lazio’s players have supported each other and are finding different ways to win this season, showing consistency and determination. Their victories have come in the form of late winners such as Felipe Caicedo’s goal versus Sassuolo, or multiple goals from a player such as Immobile.
Some may be quick to judge that Lazio had won against weaker opponents during their winning streak. They won against AC Milan, a club they struggled against for 30 years at the San Siro, in addition to a very good and young Fiorentina squad. Nevertheless, they are winning the matches that they must win to find themselves in a top-four spot and to be considered contenders for the next edition of the UEFA Champions League.
Lazio will make their return on Wednesday against Atalanta and will resume their quest to win Serie A. Can Lazio continue were they left off back in February or will the break hinder their season moving forward? So much was going Lazio’s way and they were looking destined for their first Scudetto in nearly 20 years. Their objective remains the same as their season resumes on Wednesday night and they must somehow continue the form that they showed before the break. It will be no easy task for them as the long lay off may have taken that momentum away. The club will need to deal with key injuries in many different circumstances. Senad Lulic, Luiz Felipe, Adam Marusic and Lucas Leiva are all expected to miss time with their club and this will limit Inzaghi’s options, yet he has shown that he can overcome this aspect of the game. It will take a collective unit to reach this massive goal, as they’ve shown on many occasions.
Atalanta have shown great form and played this past weekend, which could benefit their side as they have managed to get some playing time and a feel for the game. For Lazio, their form will not be the problem but it will be their fitness level and if they could sustain a high tempo of play for 90 minutes with Atalanta, who has proven to be difficult to play against.
Atalanta are eyeing for a return for Champions League next season as they hold the fourth spot and have Roma within distance of them. They have been one of the most lethal teams on the front line with Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata each leading the way with 15 and 13 goals, respectively. The club has managed to score four or more goals in seven contests this season. Lazio will need to have their defence prepared as they have proven to have a strong backline this season. They lead the league in fewest goals allowed with 23 and have earned nine clean sheets which has them tied for first.
These are three crucial points for both sides who aim for a spot into Champions League next season. Two of the most exciting teams this season could relive a match like the one back in September which had Immobile tying the match 3-3 in added time. A win not only will keep Lazio within the distance of Juventus, but it will keep them in a spot for the Scudetto, which was unexpected for this team.
Although the circumstances this season are now different, it is still possible to achieve. Expect Simone Inzaghi to have his men prepared as the coach seems to have learned a lot from last season’s let down.