Serie A Game of the Week – Round 24: Napoli vs Lazio

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The Serie A game of the week for the last round was Napoli-Lazio, which was not the highest scoring one but certainly had the most at stake.

The Partenopei came into the game having won seven straight games and seeking to respond to Juventus, who had defeated Fiorentina on Friday. The Eagles instead had uncharacteristically dropped two games in a row, so they were looking to bounce back.

As for the lineups, Maurizio Sarri lost Vlad Chiriches in the final practice and decided not to risk Raul Albiol, who is dealing with minor muscular issues, so he gave the fourth-string centre-back Lorenzo Tonelli a rare start. Simone Inzaghi left Felipe Anderson home for disciplinary reasons, but was able to field his best XI.

Once again, Napoli started off slowly and Lazio capitalized early on: after just three minutes, Ciro Immobile found Stefan De Vrij with an accurate cross after an elaborate scheme on a corner kick and the centre-back, left all alone in the box, was able to deflect the ball home. The guests were the aggressors in the first half and the Azzurri’s offence was limited to a couple of sudden strikes. However, the hosts did manage to find the back of the net before the break against the run of play: Jorginho set up José Callejon with a perfect long ball, the Spaniard took advantage of a poor offside trap and finished with aplomb in front of Thomas Strakosha.

Napoli came out firing in the second half and the insertion of Piotr Zielinski gave them a big hand. Insigne came close to scoring a couple of times, but it was actually an opponent, Wallace, who gave them the lead with a very poor slide on a José Callejon low cross, which beat his own goalie. Two minutes later, Mario Rui and Piotr Zielinski completed the quick one-two punch that knocked down the enemy, as the midfielder involuntarily deflected a shot from distance by the Portuguese left back, making the trajectory impossible to catch for Strakosha, who had already started moving towards the opposite direction. The Polish starlet later on fed Dries Mertens at the end of a fabulous action and the forward simply had to gently graze the ball to put it past the goalkeeper for the 4-1 goal. Lorenzo Insigne was not able to partecipate to the scoring as Strakosha won at least this battle despite the numerous attempts.

Napoli played one of their best halves of football this season on Saturday, while Lazio simply did not show up after the interval. The Partenopei maintained their narrow edge in the two-horse race with Juventus for Scudetto, while the Biancocelesti were leapfrogged by both Inter and Roma and found themselves in fifth position now.

From the fantasy standpoint, Piotr Zielinski was the top performer with six points, even though there are still questions about whether the goals should be awarded to him or to Mario Rui. Callejon and Mertens collected four each, Rui and Jorginho two for the assists. Ciro Immobile was the only one to pick up points for Lazio, two, because of the assist.

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