Five takeaways from Italy’s latest Euro 2020 qualifiers

Italy wrapped up their latest set of Euro 2020 Group J qualifiers with a 2-1 victory Sunday evening over second-place Finland, with Ciro Immobile putting away his first goal for the Azzurri since September 2017 and Jorginho converting the decisive match-winner from the penalty spot.

With wins over Armenia and Finland, Roberto Mancini’s men maintained their perfect record in the qualifying phase with 6 victories and have moved closer to securing a spot in next summer’s competition.

Here are five takeaways from Italy’s latest matches. Continue reading

Where next for Simone Inzaghi?

Simone Inzaghi

Since being appointed as Lazio’s interim head coach in 2016, Simone Inzaghi has transformed the biancocelesti into one of the league’s most compact sides, and has consistently delivered silverware, winning the Supercoppa in 2017 against Juventus, and most recently claiming the Coppa Italia this season after dispatching Atalanta. The two trophies are indicative of Inzaghi’s good work at the club, but it may be time for the Italian tactician to consider his future, and evaluate the possibility of joining one of Italy’s elite.

With both Juventus, and Milan considering him for their managerial vacancy, Inzaghi would be wise to wait before committing his future to Lazio. While club president Claudio Lotito and Inzaghi have an excellent rapport – to a point where the former views his tactician as ‘his son’ – it’s time Inzaghi demands more.

Given the current roster at his disposal, it’s clear Inzaghi’s gotten the most out of them, and has arguably seen his side peak. If they are to build off their two trophies, and consistently qualify for the Champions League, an aspiration shared by the entire club, they will undoubtedly need reinforcements. Going into next season, Lazio could arguably use another centre-back, a wing-back, and another striker to compete with Immobile and Caicedo.

Since Inzaghi’s hiring, Lotito has been conservative in the transfer market, and has opted for minor reinforcements rather than a complete squad upheaval. While this helps build chemistry, Lazio will need to dip into their transfer funds if they want to compete with the Milan clubs, and fierce rivals Roma. As the competition grows, so does their need to spend.

If Lotito guarantees Inzaghi a higher salary and more say on the transfer market, the Italian tactician should heavily consider remaining at Lazio for the foreseeable future. However, the managerial vacancy at Juventus may complicate affairs.

The bianconeri are far and away the best side in Italy, and don’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Armed with Cristiano Ronaldo, coaching Juventus is an enticing prospect for any manager, let alone an up and coming Italian one like Inzaghi. Given his positive relationship with Fabio Paratici that goes back to their childhood, the Lazio tactician could emerge as a front-runner for the role. His experience in Serie A will undoubtedly put him near the top of Juve’s list, but he’s not there alone.

In recent times, Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino have also been linked to the vacancy. In any case, joining Juventus would allow Inzaghi to take the next step in his career, and is a unique opportunity to grow his trophy case and reputation within the peninsula.

Milan, on the other hand, are frankly a less enticing option at the moment, but their appeal cannot be discounted. Despite their recent struggles, the rossoneri remain one of the league’s sleeping giants, and have improved significantly since last season. A lot, however, will depend on Champions League qualification, and whether or not, they will pip Inter or Atalanta to the final spot.

If they manage to claim top four, and promise to reinforce in key areas notably centre-back and left-wing, Inzaghi may be tempted to abandon his Lazio post for greener pastures.

While managing the biancocelesti has given Inzaghi the exposure and the necessary experience to take the next step from the primavera, managing one of Juventus or Milan may be an opportunity he can’t afford to turn down at this point in his career. After all, there aren’t many top class managers currently on the market, and by mere process of elimination, Inzaghi may find himself in contention for the jobs.

Much like he has done his entire career, expect Inzaghi to seize the opportunity and continue to propel his managerial career forward. That is, unless, Lotito makes him an offer he can’t refuse…

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Italy 2-0 Finland: Player Ratings for the Azzurri

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On Saturday at the Stadio Friuli in Udine, Italy managed to secure the 2-0 win over Finland in Group J of Euro 2020 Qualifying thanks to Nicolò Barella and Moise Kean opening up their accounts for the Azzurri.

Here are the player ratings from the victory. Continue reading

Inter fans turn on Spalletti following Coppa Italia elimination

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“At the start, our play was awkward, we got lost when things were frantic and you can’t do that against sides like Lazio. Then, when the match came to life, it was balanced but we lacked the composure to move the ball around. There were lots of chances to score, at both ends. It was totally balanced and in the end, Lazio deserved to make the semi-final in the shootout. Continue reading

Inter must clinch Coppa semi-final spot or Spalletti’s position will be at risk

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According to the latest reports from Rome-based newspaper Corriere dello Sport, senior figures within Inter’s hierarchy are worried by the inconsistency of their side this season. While the Nerazzurri are comfortably positioned in third place, they are eight points behind Napoli and a further eleven off top spot. Indeed, the most worrying aspect of the team’s recent run of poor form is the fact that they have scored just four goals in their last seven Serie A matches – the Beneamata have yet to score a league goal in 2019. Continue reading

Struggling Lazio Turn To Transfer Window To Change Fortunes

Following an inconsistent end to 2018, Lazio are aware reinforcements are needed if they are to achieve top four. After barely missing out on Europe’s elite competition last season on the final match-day against Inter, the biancocelesti will not let Champions League football and its lucrative rewards slip away on the second time of asking. With Roma and Milan both struggling with problems of their own, this year is as good as any for Simone Inzaghi’s side to make fourth place their own. Here are three players that Lazio have been reportedly interested in to bolster their stuttering roster.

As of late, Chelsea wingback Davide Zappacosta has been heavily linked with a move to Lazio, especially since finding himself on the outskirts of the first team under Maurizio Sarri. With Adam Marusic failing to hit last season’s highs, and with Patric and Dusan Basta barely challenging him, reinforcements out wide are necessary. For 13 million euros, Lazio will be getting a player familiar with the Italian game and more importantly, an ideal fit for Inzaghi’s system.

Throughout his time at Torino, Zappacosta thrived as a right wingback and established himself as a regular with the national team prompting Antonio Conte to bring him to London. After Conte’s departure, however, the fullback was deemed surplus to requirements due to Sarri’s different footballing philosophy and is in dire need in a change of scenery. Lazio could not only provide him that, but can also help him reach his former heights in a familiar environment.

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Italy improving under Mancini, but supporters must pump the breaks

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After banging in the stoppage-time goal at the back post thanks to substitute Kevin Lasagna’s initial glancing header from the corner, Fiorentina’s Cristiano Biraghi’s late-game heroics were enough to see Italy past Poland 1-0 on Sunday, escaping relegation from Group 3 in the UEFA Nations League.

The 26-year old celebrated his first international tally by throwing up a “13″ towards the heavens in honor of the late Viola captain Davide Astori. Surely, it was a unifying moment for Italy and Italians everywhere who swarmed the match-winner and finally had something to rally around after 12 months of heartbreak.

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Lazio’s Ciro Immobile Eyes Capocannoniere and Champions League Berth on Final Matchday

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Lazio and Inter are set to clash in a high-stakes affair this weekend in Rome at the Stadio Olimpico in order to decide which club will lock down the fourth and final spot to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League.

For Lazio, either a draw or victory will see Simone Inzaghi secure fourth place, while the Nerazzurri cannot settle for anything less than three points in Round 38 as they already hold the H2H advantage over the Biancocelesti. But, perhaps this can all be sorted through the battle between Serie A’s top two hitmen this season for the coveted ‘capocannoniere’ award. Continue reading

Luis Alberto, Lazio’s key piece to the puzzle

The Italian capital and famous Stadio Olimpico are shared by two rival clubs with a burning hatred for one another – Roma and Lazio. Each respective outfit has its own crop of stars thriving at the heart of a race for UEFA Champions League qualification, including Serie A’s top hitman Ciro Immobile and midfield dynamo Radja Nainggolan. Yet, despite both being household names around Europe and without question key men in the Capitale this 2017-18 Serie A campaign, Spanish international Luis Alberto has been as influential as any single player on either side – yes, even more than Immobile.

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