Rare Lazio comeback produces more questions than answers ahead of trip to Celtic

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The contrast was startling.

After a drab, eventless first half in a must-win Europa League fixture against Rennes on Thursday, Simone Inzaghi turned to his bench early in the second.

He made a double substitution, bringing on rested star men Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the hope of injecting some life into his team’s performance.

The strategy didn’t get off to the best of starts when the hosts almost immediately conceded the opening goal, but it soon paid off as Alberto set up Milinkovic-Savic for the opener before the Serbian’s cross found the head of Ciro Immobile to complete the comeback. Continue reading

Inzaghi ponders whether to stick or twist as Lazio reserves impress

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Ferocious Champions League races have become something of a theme across Europe this season with teams from England, Germany and Spain taking the top four fight to the final few weeks.

Nowhere is the battle as competitive as in Italy, though, where four points separate five teams between fourth and eighth place with four rounds of action remaining.

For Lazio, the jig appeared to be up when they fell to a harrowing 2-1 defeat at home to relegated Chievo over Easter weekend. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 26

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Salvatore Sirigu (7 points): he has not conceded in 557 minutes, beating a Torino’s all-time record and did his part on Sunday too with a superb double instinctual save on Filip Djordjevic early in the second half.

Francesco Acerbi (5 points): after blanketing Krzysztof Piatek in Coppa Italia, he had a repeat by smothering Edin Dzeko, who was rendered harmless in the Derby.

Cristian Ansaldi (5 points): either as a wing back or as a central midfielder, he continues to excel and to serve as a mammoth playmaker in his surprising bounce-back season. Continue reading

Resurgence of forgotten man Danilo Cataldi indicative of Lazio’s improved squad depth

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The scars of the 2017/18 season finale will take some time to heal for Lazio fans.

A final-day collapse to Inter saw the Roman club throw away a Champions League spot, before star defender Stefan de Vrij headed to their conquerors on a free transfer, soon to be joined in the departure lounge by West Ham-bound Felipe Anderson.

This came little over a month after the Aquile had conceded three goals in four minutes to throw away a Europa League semi-final place to RB Salzburg.

Inevitably, you didn’t need to venture far at the time to find the usual forecasts of doom and decline as Lazio looked to avoid being stripped of assets like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto.

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Serie A Team of the Week – Round 11

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Samir Handanovic (7 points): five clean sheets in the weekend, by Inter, Milan, Frosinone, Parma and Sassuolo, but there was no particularly superb performance by any goalie, so Handanovic gets the nod by default because he has earned the most points so far in the season and he is also the most owned in the bunch.

Alessio Romagnoli (8 points): it is hard to believe that a centre-back could be involved in late goals in two games in a row, but this was the case for the Milan captain. The one versus Genoa was more impromptu, while in Udine he followed a fast-break and punished an howler by the back-line with a powerful strike from inside the box. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 11

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Standings implications: the top three teams did not stutter in favourable match-ups. Inter and Napoli pummeled Genoa and Empoli, while Juventus had to dig deeper against Cagliari, but maintained their lead. Fiorentina and Roma shared the spoils in a result that helps neither. Lazio smoked SPAL, but Milan kept up with an improbable late goal in Udine. Torino looked very impressive again on the road as Sampdoria were their latest victims. Sassuolo tamed Chievo very easily despite being away. Atalanta keep climbing the standings and mounted a comeback against Bologna.  Continue reading

Danilo Cataldi Ready For Bigger Role At Lazio

After spending one season away from the club on loan at Benevento, Danilo Cataldi has grown leaps and bounds and is now ready to compete for a starting spot in the nation’s capital. The 24-year-old was always seen among the best in his class from a young age, yet failed to progress his game in recent years. Equally capable of picking a pass or firing from range, Cataldi’s skill-set is undoubtedly something Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi will look to utilize as his side competes on three fronts.

Despite his improvements, Cataldi found playing time hard to come by since returning to Lazio, and was mainly used off the bench. Considering the experience of Lucas Leiva, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Marco Parolo and their familiarity with Inzaghi’s system, this came as no surprise. Up until today’s game against Spal, Cataldi was yet to start a game in league play and had to make do with cameo appearances. However, expect that to change in the coming weeks.

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Lazio sign Francesco Acerbi from Sassuolo

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In typical Claudio Lotito fashion, the negotiation between Lazio and Sassuolo took a while, but they reached an agreement and Francesco Acerbi can head to the Italian Capital. The player had to force his hand and did not show up for the usual pre-season medicals in order to push for the transfer. The Rome-based club have reportedly paid a €10M fee and the player signed a five-year contract.

The Biancocelesti were looking to replace Stefan De Vrij, who bolted to Inter for free, and zeroed in on Acerbi. The 30-year-old centre-back is coming off yet another solid season in Emilia and felt it was time to move, again, to a bigger club after his failed stint at Milan when he was younger and probably unprepared. Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 36

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Injuries pile up at the end of the season and unfortunately some top players got caught.

Juventus: Miralem Pjanic is suspended, while Mario Mandzukic will be held out due to a cut on the ankle. Giorgio Chiellini, Stefano Sturaro and Mattia De Sciglio are out with their previous injuries. Benedikt Howedes suffered yet another muscular ailment. 

Napoli: Kalidou Koulibaly is disqualified and Faouzi Ghoulam continues to rehab his fractured patella.  Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 25

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There are a pair of key injured players to keep an eye on ahead of the next Serie A round.

Napoli:  Marek Hamsik was subbed off at halftime last week because of some back pain, but he played in Europa League. Raul Albiol missed the last three games because of muscle fatigue, but he could return on Sunday. On the other hand, Vlad Chiriches will be sidelined for a couple of weeks by a pulled hamstring. Arek Milik is progressing in his rehab protocol, but Faouzi Ghoulam had a big setback, even though unrelated to the previous ACL tear: he fractured his patella and had to undergo surgery; per the club statement, he will resume practicing in a month and it will be awhile before he plays in an official game. Continue reading