The Last Four Times Lazio Reached the Knockout Stages

In the annals of football history, Lazio has scripted its fair share of heroic sagas and tragic dramas in the intense plotlines of European competitions. For the passionate fans of the Biancocelesti, their crowning moment on the continental stage came on February 14th when they stunned the heavily favored Bayern Munich to secure a famous 1-0 victory in the Stadio Olimpico. The Roman outfit has known nothing but heartache in Europe, especially in the Champions League, but could that tide be set to turn?

Maurizio Sarri’s men weren’t even expected to make it out of the group stages this season. However, draws home and away against Atletico Madrid as well as victories against Feyenoord and Celtic secured safe progression to the Round of 16. There, they were greeted with the tough test of Germany’s rekordmeister, Bayern Munich. But a second-half penalty from captain fantastic Ciro Immobile was enough to secure a 1-0 victory.

Despite the defeat, the Germans are still heavily favored to progress to the quarterfinals and Bovada betting lines still make them a +750 fourth favourite to lift the trophy at Wembley this June. But that doesn’t change the fact that the victory will go down in Lazio folklore as one of the greatest nights in the club’s history. Especially when you consider how poor they have faired in their recent forays into the knockout rounds of continental competition.

2022–23: A Dutch Dilemma

Last season, Lazio were bizarrely eliminated from the Europa League. All four teams in their group finished on eight points, however, as they had a worse goal difference than Feyenoord and Midtjylland, they dropped into the Conference League while the other two progressed. Their reward for that was a knockout round tie against Romanian champions Cluj, a test they passed, by the skin of their teeth.

In the Round of 16, they faced another Dutch side in the form of AZ Alkmaar. The Italian side was expected to progress however, they were stunned by two goals to one on home turf, a result that was made even more disappointing considering the fact that the visitors had no fewer than ten first-team players on the treatment table. They lost by the same scoreline in the Netherlands and promptly exited the tournament with their tails tucked between their legs. To make matters worse, compatriots Fiorentina made it to the final, while their cross-city rivals Roma reached the Europa League final to boot.

2021–22: Portuguese Heartache

The previous year saw Lazio make a valiant run in the Europa League. They finished second behind Galatasaray but ahead of Marseille and Lokomotiv Moscow to secure progression into the knockout round. There they met with a stern test in the form of FC Porto, who had dropped down from the Champions League. A pulsating first leg that showcased the best of both sides concluded with a 2-1 defeat, despite the Italians taking the lead through Mattia Zaccagni.

Toni Martinez netted a double to turn things around on the night, and he set his side on course for victory in the reverse fixture. That ultimately finished two goals apiece, meaning Lazio succumbed 4-3 on aggregate. The margins of victory and defeat in European football can often be razor-thin, and Lazio, despite their heartache, earned respect for their spirited performance.

2020–21: Bavarian Lessons

The Biancocelesti returned to the premier continental competition, the UEFA Champions League, in the 2020/21 season after 13 years away. They weren’t expected to progress to the knockout stages however stunning victories at home to Borussia Dortmund and Russian champions Zenit Saint-Petersburg sent them through as runners-up to the Germans. However, another German test awaited in the form of Bayern Munich.

Unlike this season where they secured that famous 1-0 victory in the first leg, three years ago their performance was anything but heroic. They were thumped 4-1 in the Olimpico thanks to goals from Robert Lewandowski, Jamal Musiala, Leroy Sane and an own goal from captain Francesco Acerbi. They were then beaten once more in the Allianz Arena, albeit by a much more respectable scoreline of two goals to one. But they still had to bow out after a resounding 6-2 drubbing. This year, they have the opportunity to not only progress to the quarterfinals for the first time in history but also gain redemption for this devastating defeat.

2018–19: Spanish Stalemate

Rewind to the 2018–19 Europa League and Lazio found themselves pitted against the tournament’s specialists, Sevilla. Victories home and away against Marseille in the group stages should have stood them in good stead for the knockout round however, they were ultimately outclassed by the more experienced Spanish outfit. They fell to a 1-0 defeat in the first leg on home turf in the Eternal City and never looked like threatening to overturn the deficit. They shipped two more goals in Seville through Wissam Ben Yedder – who also netted in the first leg – and Pablo Sarabia to secure a comfortable 3-0 aggregate victory.

Tags Atletico Atletico Madrid AZ Alkmaar Bayern Munich Borussia Dortmund Celtic Champions League Cluj Dortmund Europa League Feyenoord Lazio Marseille Midtjylland Sevilla Zenit