Maurizio Sarri’s Debut With Lazio Ends in Fine Fashion

By Jerry Mancini -

The 2021/22 Serie A campaign returned on Saturday with Lazio winning their season opener 3-1 versus Empoli. New Lazio manager Maurizio Sarri who was appointed this past summer in place of Simone Inzaghi, made his debut.


It was a slow start to the match for the Biancocelesti as they conceded the first goal within the first five minutes. Empoli took advantage of a turnover from Lazio at midfield and Filippo Bandinelli scored to give the home side a 1-0 lead.

However, moments afterwards, Lazio capitalized on an error made by Empoli goalkeeper, Guglielmo Vicario, which led to a corner kick for the Biancocelesti. On the ensuing play, Lazio converted off a brilliant pass from Felipe Anderson to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who headed the ball past Vicario and equalized the match.

This started a comeback for Lazio as, at just after the half-hour mark, they scored to gain their first lead. Milinkovic-Savic, once again, was involved in the play as he made a brilliant pass from midfield towards Manuel Lazzari, who made a perfect run into the box. The right-back beat the Empoli defense and struck his shot with power past Vicario.

Right before half-time, Lazio were awarded a penalty after Vicario fouled Francesco Acerbi inside the box. Ciro Immobile made no mistake as he converted from the spot and ensured a 3-1 win versus Empoli. It was an open-ended match that had both sides create numerous opportunities to score. The Azzurri struck the post twice while Lazio managed to have some luck on their side.

We are still a work in progress and faced a difficult Empoli side. I was afraid in the first 20 minutes that we’d really struggle, but we did well for 65 minutes.


Sergej Milinkovic-Savic of SS Lazio celebrates after scoring the goal of 1-1 during the Serie A football match between Empoli FC and SS Lazio at Carlo Castellani stadium in Empoli Italy, August 21th, 2021. Photo Andrea Staccioli / Insidefoto andreaxstaccioli

While there was a lot of hype surrounding Sarri’s debut as manager with Lazio, it was Milinkovic-Savic and Lazzari who stole the spotlight with their performances on the pitch. The former was outstanding for the Biancocelesti as he showed that he has the ability to play Sarrismo and will be a vital piece under the Italian this season.

Lazio’s first two goals in this match were a strong indication of what the midfielder is capable of doing. On their first goal, Milinkovic-Savic showed great strength and was well-positioned inside the box to beat Empoli defender Simone Romagnoli and get on the scoresheet. On their next goal, he showed great vision as the touch on his pass to Lazzari was brilliant.

Milinkovic-Savic was involved in the bulk of Lazio’s attack as he created numerous chances and Empoli struggled to defend him. He finished the match with one goal, one assist, two key passes, 7/7 long ball passes and a pass accuracy rate of 83%. The Serbian continues to impress in a Lazio uniform and looks destined for another impressive season with Lazio.

Empoli 21/08/2021 – campionato di calcio serie A / Empoli-Lazio / foto Image nella foto: esultanza gol Manuel Lazzari PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxITA

Along with Milinkovic-Savic, Lazzari was impactful for Lazio as he delivered a good performance. Heading into this season, many questioned if Lazzari could transition from wing-back to full-back. The Italian proved in Lazio’s season opener that he has the ability to play right-back and will cause difficulties for numerous teams.

Throughout the match, Lazzari’s speed caused problems for Empoli’s backend as they struggled to go toe to toe with him. He made good runs, earned fouls, created chances, was intuitive in the backend and showed a good read for the game. Lazzari never looked out of position, as he was calm and played with plenty of confidence.

The Italian scored the game-winner as he executed a timely run to get in behind the defense. He was effective at both ends of the pitch and proved he has the ability to play in this role. Lazzari finished the match with one key pass, one successful dribble, three fouls won, two interceptions and a pass accuracy rate of 92%.

It’s important that we came away with a win, but clearly, we need to do better. Lazzari is working hard at becoming a full-back and he’s improving defensively.


Overall, it was an encouraging start to Lazio’s season as they managed to secure the three points versus Empoli. Nonetheless, they showed that their season will be a work in progress that will have highs and lows. They will now look ahead to their next fixture against Spezia; their first home match of the season at the Stadio Olimpico.

Tags Biancocelesti Ciro Immobile Empoli Felipe Anderson Filippo Bandinelli Francesco Acerbi Guglielmo Vicario Lazio Manuel Lazzari Maurizio Sarri Sergej Milinkovic-Savic Serie A Simone Romagnoli Spezia Stadio Olimpico