Five points to take away from a season of triumph and torment at Lazio

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Lazio’s campaign of highs and lows concluded with the latter on Sunday when Simone Inzaghi’s side lost 3-1 at Torino to finish the Serie A campaign in eighth place.

It was the Roman club’s worst league finish in three years and topped off a season of startling inconsistency.

The joy of a 3-0 win over Roma and an impressive 1-0 victory away to Inter was in stark contrast to lifeless performances that resulted in damaging defeats to the likes of Genoa, SPAL and above all the unforgivable 2-1 loss at home to already-relegated Chievo over Easter weekend.

The Coppa Italia triumph gave the campaign a huge lift, raising spirits and securing Europa League qualification for next season. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 31

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Salvatore Sirigu: even if the Torino’s defense has slipped a little in the past few games, he has pulled off some amazing performances and perhaps, differently from Frosinone, they will be able to take advantage of Parma’s absences up front.

Mario Rui: he showed well even in a losing effort in Empoli. Genoa have had a lot of troubles coming up with goals lately, so the Napoli defenders are certainly intriguing in this round, especially Ghoulam, Rui and Kevin Malcuit who are the most involved offensively.

Fabrizio Cacciatore: SPAL are not great on the road, while Cagliari were very solid at home up until the match with Juventus. He is coming off two assists in a row and Darijo Srna is suspended. Luca Pellegrini is faring well too and he will not have to deal with Manuel Lazzari.  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

Serie A Club of the Round – Lazio

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An easy choice in this case as far as the team of the round goes since Lazio romped Roma in the much-awaited Derby. The Biancocelesti came into the game looking to avenge their tough loss in the final minutes against Genoa in their last Serie A game two weeks ago, while they could not bend Milan’s defence in Coppa Italia on Tuesday. They did not play last week against Udinese due to a scheduling conflict at the Olimpico Stadium.

Simone Inzaghi could not field Ciro Immobile and Marco Parolo from the get-go due to last minute ailments, but was otherwise able to marshal all his other stars, including Luis Alberto. Continue reading

Three Positives From Lazio’s Win Against Frosinone

With a number of teams vying for top four, Lazio desperately needed to claim the three points against Frosinone to maintain pace. While the biancocelesti weren’t at their best, Simone Inzaghi’s men did just enough to get the victory and remain in the race for top four alongside Milan, Atalanta, and fierce rivals Roma. As a whole, Inzaghi will be pleased with his side’s recent form, given their indifferent end to 2018. Here are three positives from Lazio’s win against Frosinone.

Opting to give Lucas Leiva a rest, Inzaghi fielded Milan Badelj  at the heart of midfield and tasked him with shielding the defence. Until now, the Croatian hasn’t lived up to expectations and has largely disappointed when given a chance. Against Frosinone, however, Badelj was at this best and demonstrated exactly why Lazio were so eager to snap him up this past summer.

The former Fiorentina man finished the game with the most aerial duels won, the most tackles, and the most ball recoveries. When Frosinone looked dangerous, Badelj was typically there to clear; something Inzaghi will be hoping continues, especially considering the biancocelesti are competing on three fronts.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 21

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Juventus: Mario Mandzukic is trying to come back from high strain, but it might be too early. Miralem Pjanic and Joao Cancelo are dealing with minor calf ailments, while Sami Khedira has a sore knee: they are unlikely to be available this week, but the fullback has a shot. Medhi Benatia (groin), Andrea Barzagli (thigh) and Juan Cuadrado (knee) remain out.

Napoli: Marek Hamsik will return from a thigh strain, while Allan is experiencing some back pain and has been ruled out.

Inter: Balde Keita (thigh) will not be able to come back this week, while Sime Vrsaljko is under the weather and also nursing an achy knee. Matteo Politano is fatigued.  Continue reading

Napoli Loss Highlights Lazio’s Woes Once More

Despite a relatively good start to the game, Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio still fell short against Napoli and eventually lost 2-1 to the hosts, relinquishing fourth place to Milan and fierce rivals Roma. The biancocelesti started the game nicely pressuring Ancelotti’s men high, and tested Napoli keeper Alex Meret early. The young shot-stopper proved to be up to the challenge and kept Lazio at bay until Jose Callejon found the back of the net.

Minutes later, Arek Milik would double the partenopei’s lead, rendering Ciro Immobile’s second half goal a mere consolation strike. Francesco Acerbi would also get sent off with twenty to play, compounding Lazio’s issues further. While Inzaghi won’t be too displeased with the performance as a whole, the loss highlighted Lazio’s woes once more. Incapable of generating much offence, a large part of the offensive burden falls on the welcoming shoulders of Ciro Immobile.

The Italian international has done well when called upon, scoring 11 goals in league play thus far, yet can’t be tasked with carrying Lazio week in, week out. Yesterday, it was Luis Alberto who got the start behind the talisman, but the Spaniard failed to impress. Out of his 13 crosses on the night, only one found its intended target. His dribbles completed percentage wasn’t much better, beating his man a mere three out of 13 times. Moreover, Luis Alberto often found himself drifting wide to create space for himself, a position in which he doesn’t exactly thrive from.

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Serie A Club of the Round – Lazio

Lazio were denied the clean sheet, and therefore a great fantasy haul, in the final minutes, but they still had by far the most commanding display of any team on Saturday. They had failed to win in five straight games, drawing with Sassuolo, Milan, Chievo and Sampdoria and tumbling against Atalanta.

Coming into the match, there were rumours Simone Inzaghi would do away with his usual 3-5-1-1 to field his three creative midfielders together. He indeed deployed Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa from the start, but did it by keeping out both Milan Badelj and Lucas Leiva and using Marco Parolo as metronome in a very aggressive formation. Continue reading

Struggling Lazio must channel Francesco Acerbi’s warrior spirit

Lazio v SPAL Serie A 4/11/2018.

Francesco Acerbi is a man on a mission.

The centre-back is the dictionary definition of an ever-present, a player with a warrior spirit who refuses to yield an inch of grass on the pitch – or a single minute of game time.

The 30-year-old had a seemingly tough task ahead of him when he arrived at Lazio from Sassuolo in the summer as the chosen successor to Stefan De Vrij, one of the greatest defenders to have pulled on a sky-blue shirt in at least a decade.

Within a matter of weeks, the Dutchman was a distant memory.

Perhaps the greatest compliment Acerbi can be paid for his adaptation to life at one of Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 15

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Standings implications: Juventus sank Inter in the most anticipated game of the round, while Napoli wiped out Frosinone, maintaining the distance from the top spot and gaining ground on the Nerazzurri. Both Roman teams were incredibly pipped at the post against Cagliari and Sampdoria and Fiorentina tied the game late versus Sassuolo. Milan and Torino shared the spoils, so the only team prospering in the Europa League zone was Atalanta, which upended Udinese on the road. Among the relegation strugglers, Empoli keep soaring with the third win in the last month, this time over Bologna. Genoa showed grit in the one-one tie with SPAL in Cesare Prandelli’s debut. Continue reading