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

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 26

Atalanta: Rafael Toloi will miss the next game due to a hamstring strain, while Berat Djimsiti with a bruised quad.

Bologna: Ibrahima Mbaye is suspended. The infirmary is emptying out since Nicola Sansone, Gary Medel and Federico Santander are poised to be available following thigh strains, Roberto Soriano after a bruise, leaving only Mitchell Dijks (foot), Ladislav Krejci (knee) and Mattias Svanberg (thigh) on the shelf. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Lazio vs Inter

Lazio-Inter was the most anticipated match going into round 24: it was pretty tight but still had a decent amount of action, so it takes home the shout-out in combination with its potentially huge significance in the title race.

The Biancocelesti were handed their last loss in the first meeting between the two sides back in September and then proceeded to go on a still ongoing terrific run, although they had slowed down a bit lately with two draws in the past four contests. The Nerazzurri were instead coming off two Ws, the first versus Udinese and then a crazy one in the Derby. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 23

Salvatore Sirigu: he has been one of the few Torino players to save face even in their recent disastrous stretch and the coaching change should lift the whole organization. They will host Sampdoria in this round, which are one of the least prolific teams on the road and might be without their catalyst Fabio Quagliarella.

Francesco Acerbi: Lazio have the second-best statistical defence in the League, despite making it a habit of giving up cheap consolation goals. Acerbi is their centre-pieces, but, depending on the projected lineup, also Patric and Luiz Felipe are worth a look versus Parma, which will not have two or three of their top forwards.   Continue reading

Lazio have turned defence from weakness to strength – so what has changed?

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Nobody saw it coming, but perhaps that’s why they should have.

The Rome Derby has a well-earned reputation for upsetting the odds and ignoring the form book, and the fixture provided more evidence of why last weekend.

Lazio went into the game on a club record 11-game winning run, while their injury-ravaged rivals had started the new year with three defeats in five games.

But the Giallorossi dominated from start to finish, bossing possession, creating chances and coming away from a 1-1 draw wondering how they had failed to claim three points.

Fingers were understandably pointed at the Roma attack for a lack of cutting edge, as they relied on an error from Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha to find the net at all, before Pau Lopez replied with an even worse howler of his own. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 22

Gianluigi Donnarumma: Milan will host Verona this week, which are certainly a plucky side, however the Rossoneri have been able to keep a clean sheet in three of the last four rounds, with their starlet providing the usual key contribution.

Rafael Toloi: Atalanta will look to follow up the masterpiece against Torino and bounce back at home after the SPAL debacle. They will have a good opportunity to do so versus the cellar-dwelling Genoa, which have bagged just four goals in the last six rounds. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Derby della Capitale

Napoli-Juventus was likely a little more intense and significant, but it already got extensive coverage in another column, so the nod for match of the round goes to the Derby between Roma and Lazio, which was not exactly one of the ages but always carries gargantuan magnitude.

La Lupa came into the match looking to build on last week’s easy win over Genoa, which had interrupted a two-game slump, while the Eagles were riding a 11-match winning streak that had commenced back in late October. They were coming off a rout against Sampdoria. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 21

Standings implications: in a pretty surprising round, Napoli upset Juventus, Cagliari held Inter to a tie, while Roma and Lazio equalized. The Nerazzurri are now three points behind first place, the Biancocelesti potentially two. Atalanta return within one point from the Champions League zone after the complete annihilation of Torino. Cagliari surely got a positive result but they were caught in the standings by Milan, which nipped Brescia, and Parma, which instead outplayed Udinese and so there is now a three-way tie in sixth position. Verona are not far behind after torpedoing Lecce, Bologna instead prevailed in the Derby with SPAL. Sampdoria and Sassuolo shared the spoils in a snooze-fest and thus maintain a little cushion over the last three positions. Genoa were the only team to get a point in the relegation zone as they survived the meeting with Fiorentina. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 19

Emil Audero: Sampdoria have tightened it up in the back since Claudio Ranieri took over, allowing multiple goals just twice in the past nine fixtures, to Cagliari and Juventus, so their goalie is unlikely to do harm against a depleted Brescia squad that has never scored more than twice so far on the road.

Francesco Acerbi: Lazio are quietly tied with Juventus for the second-best statistical defence in the League behind Inter and have surrendered just seven goals at home thus far. Their leader could be a decent selection against the ever-underwhelming Napoli.  Continue reading

Lazio won’t win the Scudetto – but that doesn’t mean their herculean efforts don’t deserve celebration

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Lazio’s win over Juventus on Saturday was a statement.

Coming from behind to become the first team to beat Maurizio Sarri’s side this season certainly peaked the attention of any dozy onlookers who hadn’t noticed the momentum building on the blue side of Rome.

The result spoke volumes about the progress this team is making. And it spoke loudly.

It said that Simone Inzaghi’s side are no flat-track bullies, that this is a team capable of beating anyone on their day.

It said that the days of flopping on the big occasion, of failing to respond to adversity, of choking at crucial moments, are behind them. Continue reading