Lazio lost its third match in a row, this time a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sassuolo, as the Biancocelesti’s title chase feels more and more like a distant memory.
Lazio spent much of the first half on the back heel. While Sassuolo played fluid football throughout the first 45 minutes, Lazio struggled to string together consistent attacks.
The Biancocelesti failed to secure possession for much of the first frame, first touches were poor and the team for the most part looked out of sync, especially compared to a strong Sassuolo side.
Jérémie Boga easily cut through the Lazio midfield and facilitated the Neroverdi’s solid passing and build-up play throughout the half. Giacomo Raspadori, who was making the first Serie A start of his career, provided a constant threat to the experienced Lazio defense, and he was unlucky to have his first goal called off for offsides.
Luis Alberto opened the scoring in the 33rdminute, a goal that came against the run of play. Despite the Spaniard getting the goal, most of the credit should be given to Manuel Lazzari. The wingback made a great run up the flank, providing a great opportunity for Alberto, who almost squandered the chance, taking a clumsy extra touch, it was more a lucky deflection from Manuel Locatelli rather than a good play from Alberto that lead to the opening goal.
Lazzari continues to be the Biancocelesti’s best player since the restart, he was the only real threat in attack for Lazio. His runs up the right-wing provided the only spark for the Biancocelesti in the first half. Early on, he provided a perfect ball for Ciro Immobile, who put the ball wide of the net. It was an open chance that the Capocannoniere front runner should have easily put away.
Despite taking the lead early on, Lazio’s play did not provide a whole lot of confidence, especially with players like Francesco Caputo waiting on the bench.
It was another slow start from Lazio. The poor play eventually led to the equalizing goal for Sassuolo, as Caputo provided the assist to Raspadori, who deserved a goal given his play throughout the match. The goal highlighted a Lazio midfield, especially Luis Alberto, who failed to secure the ball. The defense was slow and reactionary, and Raspadori had an easy goal.
There continued to be absolutely no harmony in Lazio’s play, especially from the spine of Francesco Acerbi, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Alberto, and Immobile, who were so consistent before the restart. Much of Lazio’s chances came from the unlikeliest of sources. Bastos and Stefan Radu got into the box to make chances.
Danilo Cataldi was arguably a bigger threat than Immobile. Bobby Adekanye came off the bench to provide speed and dynamism, his ability to draw fouls has been particularly impressive in the limited time he’s had on the pitch this season.
In stoppage time, Caputo put Sassuolo ahead with a close-range header on the far post, finding a pass from Gian Marco Ferrari. This was another lapse in Lazio’s defense, especially Bastos who left the far post unmanned, leaving a gaping hole in front of the net for Caputo to take advantage of. This gave the Neroverdi a 2-1 lead, which they would hold onto until the final whistle.
The match was a complete embarrassment for Lazio. This team is a complete shell of its former self, and it’s difficult to find an obvious way to turn Lazio’s form around. The injuries have been a problem, yes, but that is no excuse for this performance. Surely losing Luiz Felipe and Senad Lulic did not throw the team this far off course.
Besides Lazzari, no one in the starting lineup has played up to standard. The defending has been poor, Milinkovic was mostly invisible, the only time he is noticeable on the pitch is when he makes a bad pass or a lethargic first touch. Luis Alberto scored a lucky goal and contributed nothing beyond that, his creativity has been stymied by the bad play around his and his shooting has been laughable. Felipe Caicedo didn’t provide a single good chance, and Immobile squandered his only opportunity, he is looking more and more like the Dortmund or Sevilla version of himself.
Seeing a collection of players fall this far out of form makes you at least consider the possibility of a curse being placed on the squad or some other type of divine intervention. It has been that poor.