Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci scored a brace to lead his side to a 2-0 victory over Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico to put an end to their three-game unbeaten streak.
Penalties conceded by Danilo Cataldi and Pepe Reina put the Bianconeri in prime situations; Bonucci made no mistake from the spot and converted on both occasions. The Biancocelesti struggled throughout the match to generate chances and rarely tested Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
With this victory, Juventus moved into sixth place in the Serie A while also ending Lazio’s 19 game unbeaten run at the Stadio Olimpico in the Italian top flight.
So, what did we learn from Lazio’s 2-0 loss to Juventus?
Lazio Need a New Backup Striker
The first priority in this upcoming transfer market for Lazio needs to be signing an adequate backup striker to Ciro Immobile. The forward was not in the lineup versus Juventus due to an injury and it has become evident that the club struggles when their talisman is not present.
Lazio began the match with a false nine but it was a plan that did not work out well. Lazio’s manager was in search of a spark up front as they were struggling to generate chances. In the second half, Maurizio Sarri subbed off Mattia Zaccagni and brought on Vedat Muriqi in his place. The Kosovan made a rare appearance for the Biancocelesti but failed to impress in the 25 minutes played. The forward struggled in numerous areas as he lost control of the ball on multiple occasions, his touch was poor and he failed to convert his chances.
Late in the second half, with Lazio trailing 1-0, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic headed the ball towards Muriqi and put him in a prime situation to score. However, he was unsuccessful in converting and afterward showed his frustration when he missed his attempt. He is currently not in the right mindset and is having difficulty scoring with Lazio.
Whether Muriqi is loaned out this upcoming transfer window or not, Lazio need to address the number nine position to provide support in the attack.
Costly Mistakes Hurt Lazio
It was a defensive match between Lazio and Juventus with very few attempts created by either side.
Although Lazio held a greater advantage in possession (58% – 42%), they struggled to do much in their attack. They became predictable at the time, rarely got into the Juve’s goal area, and turned over the ball far too easily. On the opposite end, the Bianconeri did not fare much better, as Lazio held their own weight in defense, limiting them to just five shots on target. However, it was two costly mistakes that resulted in Juve’s win.
Early in the first half, Cataldi conceded a foul on a challenge he made on Alvaro Morata. It was a questionable foul that led to Juve’s first penalty. In the second half and trailing 1-0, Reina‘s mistake was worse compared to Cataldi. The Lazio goalkeeper came off his line and attempted to win the ball ahead of Federico Chiesa. It was an ill-advised move and when Reina got back into the goal area, he decided to make a challenge on Chiesa, which resulted in a penalty Lazio had Francesco Acerbi, Luiz Felipe, and Manuel Lazzari defending Chiesa and there was no need for Reina to go lunging in on the Italian. As a result, they found themselves down 2-0, and with less than ten minutes remaining, it was always going to be difficult to start a comeback.
Lazio played well and contained Juventus to very few chances, yet their own mistakes hurt them in this fixture.
Lazio Looked Out of Sync & Lacked Balance in Their Attack
Immobile’s absence in the lineup was difficult for Lazio to overcome. The forwards looked out of sync throughout the match as they mistimed their runs and passes and created countless turnovers.
Pedro shifted from left-wing to false nine, Zaccagni made his second start this season after returning from his second injury, and Felipe Anderson started on the right side. These players have rarely played together and had little chemistry. Inserting Muriqi late in the second half did not fare much better as their struggles continued when he entered the frame. Immobile has become the key piece to Lazio’s attack as his teammates know where he is going to be inside the goal area and, most importantly, he has the ability to finish.
Aside from Lazio’s attack looking stale, it was a difficult match for Luis Alberto. During the previous four matches, the midfielder has been one of their best performers yet he failed to show up in this contest. His passes were off, he was slow to react in key situations and generated very little in the attack. In the second half, Lazio had a prime opportunity to score with Alberto leading the way, yet the Spaniard held possession for too long and created a turnover. He had multiple options with Felipe Anderson being his best choice yet did not make the key pass.
Lazio a whole struggled offensively against Juventus, and hopefully, it is just a one-off. Lazio clearly need Immobile back very soon as they are a very different team without him.