Heading into their final match of the Serie A campaign, Lazio had little to play for except for pride and dignity. The club had no chance of moving up in the standings and had already qualified for the UEFA Europa League last weekend.
Sassuolo were the better side as they cruised to a 2-0 victory and did so while being a man down for over a half-hour. Georgios Kyriakopoulos and Domenico Berardi each scored for Sassuolo while Lazio were shutout for a third straight match for the first time since Stefano Pioli was manager back in 2015.
Several players were absent for Lazio due to injury and illness. It was a difficult task for Lazio manager, Simone Inzaghi, who was without key players such as Ciro Immobile, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Luis Alberto and Francesco Acerbi.
Joaquin Correa started for Lazio yet played only 19 minutes until he was subbed off due to an injury. It was an odd decision by Inzaghi to start the forward as he’s been nursing an injury. Starting Primavera player Raul Moro would have served better, as the 18-year-old could have gained significant experience. This is an area that has been a weakness for the Lazio manager as he’s been reluctant to start players under the age of 23.
Aside from not playing the youth, Lazio’s depth was tested and proved that this squad needs plenty of improvement heading into the summer. There was a point in the match when Lazio midfielder, Danilo Cataldi, had to play as a forward.
When we didn’t have problems with the big players, we were able to beat some really good teams. Naturally, when the star names are missing, we will struggle. When the team is complete, we can really have some fun and I think you all had fun too.
The match had plenty of significance for some players as Senad Lulic and Marco Parolo may have played their last game with Lazio. Both players have been with the club for twelve and seven years, respectively, and have been an integral part of this club.
The two helped Lazio win a Coppa Italia, two Supercoppa Italiana trophies and had a key role last season in their return to the Champions League after 13 seasons. They will be missed yet will always be respected.
Lulic and Parolo were not the only ones who may have had their last game with Lazio as Inzaghi’s future remains uncertain. The Italian is set to meet with Club President Claudio Lotito and Sporting Director Igli Tare to discuss his contract.
I’ll meet with the club on Wednesday.
It has been 16 months since then, I would only have waited this long because I’ve been at Lazio for 21 years and love this club, and I’ll wait another three days because it’s Lazio.
I always kept going, and was fortunate enough to work with wonderful lads who didn’t listen to rumours, problems, contract talks that were constantly getting postponed.
At the end of the day, I take sixth place and some regrets from this season, but also the many good things we achieved.
Being with Lazio for 21 seasons as player and manager, Inzaghi surely would love to continue with the Biancocelesti. The Italian has won three trophies and helped them return to the Champions League after 13 seasons.
In addition, he’s guided Lazio to European competitions for five straight seasons and has done much more compared to recent managers in the past two decades.
Lazio may have finished in sixth place yet this season was far from a disappointment. Last summer, the Biancocelesti had a miserable mercato and followed up with another disappointing mercato in the winter. They had brought in Wesley Hoedt in the summer and Mateo Musacchio in the winter; this was not enough for a backline that had been a major liability since the beginning of last season.
Nonetheless, Inzaghi managed to bring Lazio to the Round of 16 and back to Europa League next season. While he’s been reluctant to start young players, change formations and adapt at times with his tactics, he’s delivered quality results. Surely, not many managers would have achieved what he has in the past five seasons with the depth which has been available to him. However, it seems that plenty of changes could be headed Lazio’s way ahead of the 2021/22 campaign…