Introducing Lazio’s unlikely Champions League hero: Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro

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When Lazio’s third goal hit the net against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night to cap a superb return to the Champions League, the fans’ elation was mixed with surprise.

Who would have possibly predicted that the decisive goal of the Biancocelesti’s first group stage match in 13 years would be scored by Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro?

The midfielder himself appeared as stunned as anyone by how events unfolded.

“When I signed for Lazio I didn’t think that I would play straight away, I’d like to thank the coach for this,” he said after the game.

He wasn’t the only one. Akpa Akpro’s arrival from Serie B side Salernitana over the summer fell under the radar, with most fan and media attention understandably being directed towards €20m man Vedat Muriqi, a botched move for David Silva and the failure to upgrade the defence. Continue reading

Warrior Muriqi ready for battle – but he’s not the Lazio Ibrahimovic

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Out of crisis comes opportunity, so they say. If that’s true, there will be plenty of chances going at Lazio this season.

With just three weeks of the season played, Luiz Felipe, Denis Vavro, Stefan Radu, Bastos, Adam Marusic and Senad Lulic have all suffered injuries, squeezing the Biancocelesti’s limited defensive resources to the limit.

There was hope that the international break would provide a timely healing window, but instead Lazio head back into Serie A action more depleted than ever, with Manuel Lazzari, Gonzalo Escalante and Felipe Caicedo joining the ranks of walking wounded ahead of the trip to Sampdoria. Continue reading

Success or failure? Lazio’s transfer business reviewed

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“False promises and mediocrity. The transfer market is the usual mess.”

The ‘Lazio Ultras’ group made their feelings quite clear when they hung a banner with these words over a motorway bridge in September.

It reflected a general frustration among the capital club’s fans about a summer transfer window that had promised much but delivered little.

Things did get a little better when three more players arrived before the deadline, but it still did little to convince many fans that Lazio’s issues have been resolved.

FALSE DAWNS AND GAPING HOLES Continue reading

Lazio reinforcements finally arrive to inject much-needed impetus

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At times on Wednesday evening, it was hard not to feel like you were experiencing extreme déjà vu.

Atalanta raced to a 3-0 halt time lead against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico, only for the determined hosts to pull one back and spark hopes of an unlikely comeback.

Is this ringing a bell? That will be because Lazio recovered from three goals down to draw 3-3 in this fixture last season – but there were no heroics this time, as Atalanta struck a fourth to come away with a comfortable win.

Continue reading

Lazio season preview: Will the Aquile fly again in 2020/21?

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It’s time to go again already? Well yes, and Lazio are actually arriving late to the party.

Simone Inzaghi’s men are back in action on Saturday when they hop across the Mediterranean to Sardinia to take on a Cagliari side led by former Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco.

Lazio’s delay in getting underway was down to the fact that their week one fixture with Atalanta was postponed by 10 days; La Dea were allowed some extra preparation time due to their late 2019/20 finish on Champions League duties.

Where were we?

Lazio’s 2019/20 campaign was a story of two parts: pre-coronavirus and post-coronavirus. Continue reading

Lazio’s 2019/20 end of season report card

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What a year it’s been for Lazio. The 2019/20 season will never be forgotten due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but for Aquile fans a whirlwind league campaign and long-awaited return to the Champions League will stick in the memory too.

Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to grade the efforts of the capital club.

The Serie A campaign: A-

A bitterly disappointing season finale is still fresh in the memory. Lazio were a shadow of their former selves when they returned from the three-month break and fell from one point off the Serie A summit to fourth place. Continue reading

Four reasons Lazio still have much to play for in Serie A finale

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A wild and wonderful Lazio season comes to an end on Saturday when they travel south to face Coppa Italia holders Napoli.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side have nothing but pride left to play for in the league, as they are guaranteed to finish seventh regardless of the result.

On the face of it, Lazio have little on the line either. They can still finish anywhere between second or fourth, but a Champions League spot is guaranteed either way.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find a few reasons to get excited about the climactic moment of a memorable campaign for the Biancocelesti.

Ciro Immobile’s quest for history Continue reading

Record-breaking Lazio burst back into life in time for the final act

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What a difference a win can make. You could almost feel the sighs of relief breezing through your window on Thursday night in Rome, as a 2-1 victory for Lazio over Cagliari secured a top four finish.

Last week, I noted the improvements seen in the 0-0 draw against Udinese. The display during the 2-1 defeat to Juventus that followed was also encouraging despite the result, considering the ludicrous list of absences facing Simone Inzaghi.

Regardless, Lazio went into the clash with the Sardinians without a win in five matches.

Some of the more pessimistic supporters were even starting to glance over their shoulder towards Roma, creeping up behind them in fifth. Continue reading

Vulnerable Juventus could be perfect prey for Lazio attack to rediscover spark

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It was a sign of the times that a 0-0 draw against Udinese felt like progress for Lazio.

A run of three consecutive defeats against Milan, Lecce and Sassuolo ended the Roman club’s Scudetto dream, as they struggled to rediscover the swagger that was on show earlier in the season.

But taking a point in Udine stopped the rot – at least to a certain extent. The first half display was particularly positive as Lazio played at a higher tempo, asked more questions of the opposition defence and dominated possession.

But the familiar issue of tired legs and minds crept in after the break, and in the end Simone Inzaghi’s side had goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha and the post to thank for keeping out an improved Udinese. Continue reading

No defence for Lazio defence after Lecce horror show

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Tuesday night’s defeat in Lecce was a startling wake-up call to the scale of Lazio’s decline since football restarted. 

Defeats to Atalanta and Milan had sandwiched comeback wins against Fiorentina and Torino ahead of the capital club’s trip to the deep south of Italy.

There were already plenty of concerns over the team’s performances before they travelled to Puglia, but there were also convenient ways of excusing the two previous losses.

The trip to Atalanta, a 3-2 defeat, was Lazio’s first game back, while the hosts had already got a game under their belt. Continue reading