A new Lazio stadium is back on the agenda – but how likely is it to happen?

sda (1)

Stadio delle Aquile.

These three words have tantalised Lazio supporters for 14 years now, since president Claudio Lotito first put together a project for a new club-owned stadium to be built in Rome.

You don’t need to look far in Italy to see the benefits of stadium ownership. Juventus’ seven-year long domination of Serie A, soon to become eight, began when they clinched the Scudetto in 2011/12, the year they moved into their new arena.

It’s not a coincidence that the gap between the Old Lady and the rest has grown in the years since, with Juve getting an extra boost from the revenue generated by their modern, state-of-the-art ground. Continue reading

Felipe Caicedo emerges as unlikely hero of Lazio’s derby heroics

Lazio vs Roma - Serie A TIM 2018/2019

Less than a year has passed since it seemed that all was lost for Felipe Caicedo at Lazio.

The Ecuadorian, brought in ahead of last season to provide an alternative to Ciro Immobile in Lazio’s attack, had shown few glimpses of possessing the quality needed to take the club back into the Champions League during regular cameos from the bench and occasional starts in his debut season.

However, he was handed a glorious chance to prove his critics wrong when the prolific Immobile picked up an injury with just a handful of games remaining of the 2017/18 campaign and a top four spot all-but secured.

Caicedo started, and scored, against Atalanta with three games to go but Simone Inzaghi’s side could only muster a draw.

A chance to make amends presented itself immediately. Lazio travelled to relegation-battling Crotone for the penultimate game of the season knowing that a win would assure them of Champions League football.

Caicedo again started and, with the score level at 1-1, he burst through the home side’s defence to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper. A little composure would’ve been enough to give Lazio the lead, but the former Espanyol striker hit a tame finish straight into the keeper’s grateful arms.

Later, he had a free header from a set piece, but nodded it off the crossbar. Lazio went on to draw 2-2, and completed their late-season collapse with defeat to Inter on the final day that saw them painfully drop out of the top four on head-to-head record.

It would be reductive to suggest that Caicedo single-handedly lost Lazio a Champions League spot, but his squandered chances that day in Calabria left the fans in no doubt that he was at best a substandard back-up option, at worst a liability who needed to be sold immediately.

It is incredible, therefore, to fast forward to the striker’s heroics in Saturday’s Rome derby, when he scored the opener in an extraordinary 3-0 win over Roma, a result that equalled the club’s best-ever result in the fixture and sparked a wave of celebration and optimism for laziali that is still going strong.

The derby holds momentous importance in the calendar of both capital clubs. This has been particularly clear over the last few days.

A week ago, Lazio were on the brink of a crisis as defeat in the derby would’ve made Champions League qualification all-but impossible. Instead, on Thursday the club opened its doors to 5000 fans for a midweek training session, celebrating a result that has united supporters, players and staff in their conviction that a top four spot, and even a Coppa Italia triumph, can be achieved in the weeks and months to come.

On the other side of town, Roma have gone from the thick of the top four race with one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals to being three points adrift of fourth and out of Europe, having sacked their coach Eusebio di Francesco and sporting director Monchi as a result.

For Caicedo, his performance in the derby has transformed him from a popular player to one of the most celebrated members of the squad. The 30-year-old’s composed finish, where he rounded Robin Olsen and stroked the ball into the net, was a world away from his flustered display in Crotone last May.

The Ecuadorian’s strike rate has not improved dramatically this season. His goal in the derby was his fourth of the season in Serie A, while he found the net once in the Europa League. However, his determination, humility and attitude have brought the fans onto his side.

He will always give everything he’s got and this attribute has been applauded by the supporters. He will accept a place on the bench or a mid-game substitution without drama, something that can’t be said for the likes of Luis Alberto, Patric or even captain Senad Lulic.

However, something the Ecuadorian has added to his arsenal this season is tactical flexibility. He is not a vice-Immobile. That hasn’t changed. But his physicality and link-up play offer Inzaghi something he otherwise doesn’t possess among his forwards.

Caicedo has played alongside Immobile on several occasions this season, as well as frequently leading the line with Joaquin Correa, as he did last Saturday. His newfound ability to play in a deeper role, on the shoulder of the main striker, has seen him gain more game time this season; he has already accumulated a total of 1,303 minutes on the pitch this season compared to 1,270 altogether last term.

While he will never be a prolific finisher, Caicedo’s form in front of goal kept Lazio’s engine running in a difficult period plagued by injuries and poor form recently. In contrast to his misses losing the club points last season, the striker single-handedly won Lazio six points as he scored winners in 1-0 victories over Frosinone and Empoli last month.

He has now scored three goals in his last four Serie A appearances, the same number he registered all of last season, and suddenly Inzaghi is having to consider for the first time in his tenure whether to start an in-form Caicedo or an out-of-form Immobile.

Derby goals help to make players legends on the blue side of Rome, with Immobile scoring the second to cement that status in their eyes and former youth team captain Danilo Cataldi adding a third in what he described as “the greatest moment of my career”.

Caicedo’s fan favourite status then took an even bigger boost when he responded to Roma’s Champions League elimination on Wednesday night with a laughing emoji – a sure-fire way to curry favour with the fans.

How long the golden period will last remains a mystery, but Caicedo has started adding goals to his game at the best possible moment for Lazio, who have the wind in their sails as they look to close the gap to the Milan clubs.

A trip to Fiorentina comes next for the Aquile and if the ‘Panther’ can continue his run against a team lurking just five points behind Inzaghi’s side, the memory of that day in Crotone will become foggier and foggier in the memories of the fans.

How well do you know Italian football? Want to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

Moment of truth arrives as toothless Lazio face season crossroads

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

February has not been a month to remember for Lazio.

After January ended on the high of a penalty shoot-out victory over Inter in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals, fatigue and niggles combine to produce a destructive injury crisis that has left the club facing a crossroads in their campaign.

Simone Inzaghi managed to squeeze his depleted team through wins over relegation strugglers Frosinone and Empoli, but defeats in both legs of their Europa League last 32 meeting with Sevilla, either side of surrendering a lead in the final 15 minutes to lose against Genoa, has left the club in a make-or-break situation when they face AC Milan and Roma this week. Continue reading

Injuries pile up as Lazio’s fight on three fronts takes its toll

gueye (1)

The result of the Coppa Italia quarter-finals at the end of January left Lazio fans glowing with pride.

Not only had they overcome Inter on penalties to book a place in the final four, ending their big-team hoodoo in the process, but they became the only Italian team left competing in three competitions after Juventus, Roma and Napoli joined the Nerazzurri in being dumped out of the cup.

It was an admirable achievement, but one that might come at a cost if the club’s Europa League defeat to Sevilla on Thursday is anything to go by. In 90 minutes the squad was decimated as coach Simone Inzaghi’s first-team injury list grew into double figures. Continue reading

How should we judge Lazio’s January transfer business?

romulo

The January transfer window has rarely been an exciting time of the season for Lazio fans during the Claudio Lotito era.

With the exception of a handful of notable figures – Antonio Candreva, Andre Dias, Stefan Radu – there have been few successful signings who joined the Biancocelesti midway through the season. This year was no different.

Sporting Director Igli Tare set his stall out from the off, stating at the beginning of the month that “there will be more players on the way out than coming in.”

The right side of midfield was identified as the part of the squad most needing reinforcement, despite the fact that the hapless Felipe Caicedo remains the only alternative to Ciro Immobile up front, while the bloated squad has long been in need of an overhaul. Continue reading

Lazio left wondering what could’ve been as enigmatic Jordan Lukaku heads for Newcastle

Italy: Lazio vs Spal Serie A

It’s 13 August 2017. Lazio appear to have blown a golden chance to begin the new season with some silverware, throwing away a 2-0 lead in the final five minutes of their Supercoppa Italiana clash with Juventus.

Aquile substitute Jordan Lukaku, who was brought on with 15 minutes remaining, picks up the ball on the left wing, midway into the Juve half.

With his first touch, the Belgian knocks the ball beyond Mattia De Sciglio and sprints onto it.

With his second touch, he cuts sharply inside into the penalty box, leaving the full-back flat on his back. Continue reading

Five New Year’s resolutions for Lazio in 2019

Lazio v Salzburg - UEFA Europa League - Quarter Final - First Leg - Stadio Olimpico

Lazio enter the new year with a spring in their step, having rediscovered a winning formula and returned to the top four in time for bells.

But before they return to competitive action with the visit of Novara in the Coppa Italia on Saturday, here are some suggested resolutions that would make the year ahead a memorable one for Simone Inzaghi and his players.

Reach the Champions League

The undisputed No.1 target for the club is to achieve the goal that so agonisingly eluded them on the final day of the 2017/18 season: qualify for the Champions League. It has been 11 years now since the club’s fans have been able to hear the famous anthem ring around the Stadio Olimpico in the group stage, with some near misses coming in the interim period. Continue reading

Lazio must make Chelsea’s Davide Zappacosta their January priority

Chelsea v Derby County - Carabao Cup Fourth Round

With the distraction of actual football matches put on hold for two weeks, fans have been left to try and negotiate the maze of transfer speculation that appears without fail at this time of the year.

This can be more of a challenge than it may appear, with scatter-gun reports linking a range of players – young and old, good and bad, from strikers to goalkeepers – to clubs daily.

For Lazio, however, the objective of 2019’s January transfer window is clear: ditch some of the deadwood and fortify the right flank. Continue reading

Luis Alberto opens magic box to spark Lazio recovery

Italy: SS Lazio v Cagliari - Serie A

What a difference a week makes.

Seven short days ago, Lazio were limping towards Christmas on a seven-match winless run, the worst of Simone Inzaghi’s spell as coach, with frustration growing in the stands and key players misfiring on the pitch.

The Roman club’s inventive Spanish midfielder Luis Alberto came in for more criticism than most, having lit up Serie A with a string of superb, game-changing performances that lived up to his nickname ‘Il Mago’ (‘The Magician’) last season, before struggling to deliver a fraction of the same impact once the current campaign kicked off.

Alberto was almost a walking embodiment of Lazio’s season so far; a second-hand version of last year’s model. Continue reading

Inzaghi’s Christmas tree could be key to lifting Lazio’s festive spirits

Italy: SS Lazio V Olympique De Marseille: UEFA Europa League Group H

Simone Inzaghi has certainly got a sense of timing.

The Lazio coach has had a tough month, leading his players through the worst period of form he has overseen during his two-and-a-half-year spell in charge; four draws and three defeats in their last seven games.

The slump has soured the mood in the capital at a time of year that should be filled with festive cheer, but Inzaghi’s decision to finally tinker with a new formation may have come at the perfect moment.

In training this week, a 4-3-2-1 ‘Christmas Tree’ system has been trialled, quite fitting with 25 December so close at hand.

Continue reading