It was a night full of costly mistakes and missed opportunities from Lazio as they lost 4-1 versus Bayern Munich.
After 20 years, Lazio returned to the Round of 16 in the Champions League and it wasn’t the way they had hoped it would play out. Within the first ten minutes, Lazio defender Mateo Musacchio gifted a goal to Bayern. He sent a terrible back pass to goalkeeper Pepe Reina that Robert Lewandowski intercepted and capitalized on.
Lazio’s night went then from bad to worse, as they conceded three successive goals from Jamal Musiala, Leroy Sane and an own goal from Francesco Acerbi. While Joaquin Correa scored for Lazio to make it 4-1, it was too little too late.
Lazio had their chances in the second half, however, players such as Senad Lulic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic failed to convert. As for Bayern, it was an easy victory as three of their four goals were gifted to them from Lazio’s own mistakes.
With a depleted squad due to many injuries and illnesses, that didn’t make a difference for Bayern, who looked strong and fearless throughout the night. Lazio will now need to put this performance behind them and shift their focus towards their next match versus Bologna on Saturday evening in Serie A.
So, what are the three takeaways from Lazio vs Bayern Munich?
Lazio’s Errors Cost Them the Match
If Lazio were going to have any chance of defeating Bayern over two fixtures, it would have had to be by winning the first leg, as the Bavarians were without many notable players due to injuries and illnesses. Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry and Benjamin Pavard were some key players who missed the match, yet Lazio failed to capitalize. Although Bayern was shorthanded, they looked strong for most of the match.
Aside from a good performance from the Germans, Lazio showed signs of quality and the ability to create chances in the final third. The Biancocelesti came close at times to scoring, yet players such as Ciro Immobile, Milinkovic-Savic, Lulic and Correa failed to convert their opportunities. Any chance squandered against the defending champions will always prove to be costly and that is what happened.
Mental mistakes and individual errors cost them a potential win or draw, which stemmed from their backline. Musacchio gifted an early goal while Patric was accountable for the third goal. The Spaniard turned over the ball to Kingsley Coman and made a superman dive towards the Bayern player, which was completely erroneous and took him out of the play. Coman had ample space to advance down the left flank and was left unmarked, which resulted in a Sane goal.
The fourth goal was conceded by Acerbi from an own goal. The defender put himself in a bad position yet the goal resulted from Patric, as he failed to pick up his man on the counter-attack. When he got back into position, he was easily beat one versus one against Sane. Lazio’s inability to score along with costly errors from their defenders was the major difference in this match.
Lazio Need Quality Centrebacks
If Lazio manage to finish in a top-four spot in Serie A, the first task this summer must be to fix the backend.
The Biancocelesti got a taste of playing the best team in Europe and learned that quality and depth are needed to compete. The likes of Patric, Wesley Hoedt and Musacchio are good to help the team compete in Serie A but not in the Champions League.
Mussachio was subbed off just after the half-hour mark while Hoedt came on for Patric at the 53rd minute and didn’t fare much better. Two goals resulted from mistakes from both players, while the Dutch defender made three ill-advised passes out from the backend which resulted in scoring chances for Bayern.
It was error after error from Lazio’s defense that made it easier for Bayern to win this match. Two notable players who were out and could have helped Lazio’s backline were Luiz Felipe and Stefan Radu. The Brazilian was a big part of Lazio’s success in the group stage of the Champions League and was a dependable player as he has the ability to read the play and make timely challenges. Radu could have provided leadership and experience in the backend and is more calm and composed.
Lazio’s biggest need this past summer was acquiring a centre-back. While it was nice to see that Lazio president, Claudio Lotito, showed the willingness to spend big money on Vedat Muriqi, the biggest emphasis should have been on the backend. Hopefully, after this performance, sporting director Igli Tare and Lotito will help Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi improve his backend for next season and provide some much-needed quality depth.
Luis Alberto Was Superb in the Midfield
Lazio’s loss wasn’t all bad as there were some bright spots in the team. Luis Alberto was one of these, being dominant in the midfield.
Although being down in the match, the Spaniard showed no signs of quitting and made an impact in the middle of the park. He gave his side a chance of coming back as he made pivotal challenges to win loose balls, made timely key passes and advanced the ball into positions that created scoring opportunities.
Alberto relished his moment of playing on Europe’s biggest stage. Although he took a yellow card early in the first half (which was for dissent as he showed his displeasure towards the referee), what was encouraging was that he responded with a fiery attitude and tried to spark his team to push forward.
Correa’s goal started from Alberto showing off his good skills to get away from Leon Goretzka before sending a precise pass towards the Argentine, who was just outside the Bayern box.
Alberto was creative, decisive and physical throughout the match. He finished with five key passes, a pass accuracy rate of 85.4%, four successful dribbles and two accurate long passes.