Heading into their match versus AS Roma, very few expected Lazio to defeat their rivals.
The Biancocelesti had won two straight games prior to their fixture yet weren’t showing good form overall. It was just the second time this season that they had won two straight games as consistency had been an issue for Lazio manager, Simone Inzaghi.
However, last Friday evening at the Stadio Olimpico, Lazio put forth their best performance of the season and it was by a landslide. From start to end, Inzaghi’s side played for each other and as a team. The players were motivated, fought for every inch of the pitch and desired to win at all costs.
It has been an unbalanced season for Lazio, where injuries and illnesses have hampered Inzaghi’s squad. Their talisman, Ciro Immobile, missed a number of games due to Covid-19 along with Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, amongst others. Players haven’t been able to play together on a consistent basis and the new additions are still building a familiarity to Inzaghi’s tactics.
Earlier this season, Lazio played Club Brugge and FC Zenit St. Petersburg with 12 players and eight players missing, respectively. They managed to pull off draws and show great character yet that has been missing far too often in Serie A. That was not the case against Roma, as Lazio came focused, mentally prepared and highly motivated.
Lazio are currently riding a three-game winning streak and are unbeaten in their past four matches. This raises the question: was this win over Roma the turning point in their season and are they a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly moving forward?
Last season, Lazio were one of the most dominant teams and that started from their midfield.
Although Luis Alberto had a slow start to the season this year but has turned it around in recent times. The Spaniard scored a brace versus Roma and dictated the pace of the match as he was resilient and won several challenges. He’s scored in four of their last six Serie A matches but has been repeatedly questioned because he hasn’t registered an assist. This should be put to rest; the midfielder has scored a total of six goals this year and has the ability to help his side in various ways.
Milinkovic-Savic must not be forgotten as he’s following up with another great season. He’s scored pivotal goals for his side and has played in nearly every match this season. He’s been relied upon this year and in his performance against Roma, he made a beautiful long pass to set up Manuel Lazzari, who scored Lazio’s second goal.
Immobile continues to lead the way upfront but it has been his partner, Felipe Caicedo, who’s proving he has the ability to be a starter. The forward has been physical and has stepped up in the absence of either Immobile or Joaquin Correa, while contributing seven goals in all competitions. He has two goals in their past three games and has provided the depth that has been needed in their attack.
Adam Marusic has been tremendous playing as a left-wing back, where he’s filled the void for Lulic and Fares, who both were out due to injuries. Known to be a natural right-wing back, he’s shown the fortitude to be a versatile player and adjust which has been crucial for Inzaghi as the left side has always been a concern.
The backend of Stefan Radu, Francesco Acerbi and Luiz Felipe has been dependable in recent times, with Acerbi leading the way. They have earned consecutive clean sheets for the first time this year largely in part to Radu looking much better as he is playing at a higher level of comfort.
Acerbi must not be forgotten as he missed time due to an injury and his presence is always reassuring for Lazio. Felipe has provided stability in the backend this season with his quickness and ability to move the ball up field. Although he will be out until April, the addition of Wesley Hoedt has paid dividends as the defender stepped up for Lazio earlier in the season when Radu and Acerbi were out of the lineup with injuries.
There are several players on this team who have proven that they could make the difference for Lazio. This was noticeable versus Roma and is a reminder that this team should be taken seriously. Prior to their win versus Roma, they started to show some signs of good form but it all came to together in the Rome Derby.
Their third goal involved 22 straight passes and 11 players touching the ball in the sequence which resulted in Alberto scoring his second goal. Aside from the confidence they were showing, they played with composure, and the willingness to win.
The issue has been that every player has been contributing for Lazio, yet not on a consistent basis. Inzaghi has a squad that he didn’t have last season. He could call players off the bench such as Andreas Pereira and Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro, in addition to Gonzalo Escalante, who has proven to be a quality backup to Lucas Leiva.
If there is one man who’s proven to get the best out of his side, its Inzaghi. That was shown versus Roma where, right before the final whistle, the squad on the bench held arms in a straight line behind their manager. It has been called the “Banda Inzaghi” and looks like a team ready to charge into the second half of the season and finish near the top of the table.
His players showed the respect, love and devotion they have for their manager and team. A win such as this could really get the best out of their players and really make a difference in their season.
Lazio are just 12 points back of league leaders, AC Milan, and six points back of Roma, who hold the final spot in the Champions League. With their second half of the season still to be played along with their matches against Bayern Munich in the round of 16 of the Champions League, the Biancocelesti are finding their form at the right time and reminding people they shouldn’t be taken lightly.