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.

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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

Champions League on the line for Lazio in season-defining December

Lazio 1-1 Milan

Thursday night’s Europa League defeat to Apollon Limassol won’t live long in the memory of Lazio fans.

The team that stepped out onto the waterlogged pitch of a deserted stadium in Cyprus wasn’t a familiar one, as Simone Inzaghi made 10 changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Milan the previous weekend.

A performance devoid of any urgency, spirit or fight followed as the Biancocelesti B-team fell to a 2-0 loss. However, the match did serve an important purpose.

Lazio were already guaranteed a place in the Europa League knockout stages, but Thursday’s setback meant they have to settle for second place in their group and, potentially, a trickier last 32 draw. Continue reading

Ciro Immobile’s critics are wrong – it’s time for Italy to embrace the King of Lazio

Immobile in action for Italy against Portugal

Ciro Immobile is Italy’s best striker. This is an opinion, but were you to water down the essential responsibility of a forward to scoring goals, it becomes a fact.

Finding the net is something the 28-year-old has done with stunning regularity since joining Lazio in the summer of 2016. In just over two years in Rome, he has notched 76 goals in 104 appearances, including a 41-goal haul last season that saw him crowned as joint-top scorer in both Serie A and the Europa League.

His incredible strike rate has shown no signs of slowing down this season, with Immobile having already scored eight league goals, one less than leading scorer Krzysztof Piatek and the same number as a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Lazio must overcome stage fright to realise Champions League dream

Lazio v Inter-Olimpic - Serie A - Stadium Rome

The Roman sky opened, emptying torrents of rain onto the Stadio Olimpico turf as powerful gusts of wind swept sheets of water into the stands.

The brave Lazio faithful bearing the brunt of this assault on Monday night, who had struggled through the elements to support their team, were soon left wondering why they had bothered.

After all, what they were witnessing was nothing more than an echo, the continuation of a long-running and familiar pattern that threatens to stall the progress that has been made at the capital club under Simone Inzaghi.

Before Lazio’s clash against Inter, where they had the chance to move third in Serie A, the Aquile had begun to construct a reputation as big-game bottlers. Continue reading

Cristiano Ronaldo Spares Juventus Blushes

After dominating Manchester United at Old Trafford for the better part of 90 minutes in mid-week, Juventus were rocked back to reality in Tuscany when they took on Empoli. A  goal from Francesco Caputo put the hosts ahead early while the bianconeri’s high-flying offensive trio of Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi struggled to impose themselves on the game – putting the result in doubt.

It would take a controversial penalty call for Juventus to strike even in the second half before Ronaldo completed the come-from-behind win with a long-range belter with twenty minutes to spare. Empoli took the game to the Italian champions early, and were largely the better side in the first half. Stretched thin with Sami Khedira and Emre Can out injured, Juventus’ midfield ranks were put to the test. Flanked by Bentancur and Matuidi, Miralem Pjanic was not his typically dominant self in the middle of the park and was bypassed on many occasions by his counterparts. Bentancur, on the other hand, arguably put in his worst shift in bianconero since making the switch from Boca Juniors, however, that’s to be expected considering the recent congestion of fixtures.

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Lorenzo Insigne aims to mirror Napoli form for Italy

Insigne

Dubbed by the majority of Italians as the darkest period in their history, the Azzurri are traveling up a creek without a paddle here in 2018.

Upon conclusion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in which Italy played the role of spectator, ‘La Nazionale’ dropped two spots to their lowest ever ranking ever of 21st. Whether it be the last remnants of the old guard, the newcomers, Gian Piero Ventura, or the FIGC, accountability is required by all involved if Italy are to turn this around under acting CT Roberto Mancini. But in dire times such as these, certain individuals must rise to the occasion, and be one of many small rays of hope – and Lorenzo Insigne is one of these individuals.

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