Serie A Club of the Round – Lazio

Lazio had a field day against Sampdoria and took home the coveted award despite giving up a consolation goal, as they pushed their winning streak to 11 in commanding fashion.

Simone Inzaghi had Joaquin Correa available this week, but he kept him initially on the bench coming off a calf injury, so Felipe Caicedo partnered Ciro Immobile up front, while Jony replaced the suspended Senad Lulic on the left wing. Claudio Ranieri kept the slightly banged up Fabio Quagliarella on the bench, which pretty much tipped how things were going to unfold. Continue reading

Lazio face test of squad depth as fixtures, injuries and suspensions pile up

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Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi is currently undergoing one of his biggest tests of the season.

That may seem like an odd thing to read, given that his team have forgotten how to lose; last weekend’s victory over Napoli marked a club record 10th league win in a row.

In that time, they’ve ended a 30-year wait to beat AC Milan at San Siro in Serie A, a 16-year winless run at home to Juventus in the league and most recently a six-match losing run against Napoli.

It’s tempting to think Lazio can just plug in and play at the moment, that Inzaghi has little more to do than send his team out on the pitch with the instructions: “Same again, lads”.

But the coach’s skill in keeping this run going shouldn’t be underestimated – and his biggest challenge could be just around the corner.

Lazio aren’t blessed with a squad boasting enormous strength in depth, and the loss of one undisputed starter can have a big impact on the way they perform.

Inzaghi already lost his hugely influential midfield pair Lucas Leiva and Luis Alberto through suspension for the trip to Brescia at the start of the year, and their absence was felt as Lazio toiled before snatching another late win.

Captain Senad Lulic is suspended for Sampdoria’s visit on Saturday, while Francesco Acerbi and Stefan Radu will miss the following weekend’s Rome Derby if they pick up another booking.

Danilo Cataldi, who is also one yellow card away from suspension, has been ruled out for almost three weeks with an injury sustained during the midweek Coppa Italia win over Cremonese, while Joaquin Correa hasn’t recovered in time to face Samp and joins long-term absentees Adam Marusic and Jordan Lukaku in the stands.

With the injuries and suspensions piling up, much is being asked of few.

Saturday’s clash with Claudio Ranieri’s side will be the third game in a run of six matches in 15 days for the Biancocelesti, and another five are yet to come before 9 February.

The routine 4-0 win over Serie B opposition on Tuesday evening highlighted the lack of quality in depth that Inzaghi has available to him, regardless of the handsome scoreline.

Ciro Immobile, Acerbi and Luiz Felipe were all handed starting spots yet again, despite clearly being in a position where they would benefit from some rest.

The reserve players brought in to the Lazio XI from the bench included the likes of Bastos, Patric and Bobby Adekanye. They all performed well, but they are expected to be comfortable against this level of opposition.

Comparatively, some of the squad rotations rolled out by Inter and Juventus this week included bringing in Alexis Sanchez, Diego Godin, Valentino Lazaro, Gonzalo Higuain, Daniele Rugani and Federico Bernardeschi.

That, in a nutshell, is why any talk of Lazio competing for the Scudetto is premature.

Lazio’s strongest XI is the third-best in Serie A, but these players aren’t superhuman and they’ll be running on fumes or risking injury if they are made to continue at this frantic pace for much longer.

This is where Lazio’s early elimination from the Europa League may turn out to be a blessing in disguise; this busy stage of the season has tripped them up before, but now they have more time between league games to recover and work on details.

The question now is whether Claudio Lotito will choose to do something very uncharacteristic and open his chequebook during the January transfer window.

Lazio’s attack is threadbare in terms of options, and always has been. Immobile’s sensational form over the last three-and-a-half seasons has helped gloss over this fact, but the recent injury to Correa has highlighted the lack of options once again: Felipe Caicedo and Adekanye are the only other natural attackers in the squad.

Striker Lamin Jallow has been heavily linked with a move from Salernitana, Lotito’s other club, but how the 24-year-old will adapt to the demands of a Serie A Champions League race is a complete unknown.

Inzaghi is a fan of SPAL’s Alberto Paloschi, but he is another player who is unlikely to get fans off their seats in excitement.

Matias Vecino of Inter is perhaps the most interesting, high-profile player Lazio are considering for a mid-season move, but the signing would make little sense as it would only increase options in what is already the most competitive area of the squad, central midfield.

For now, this incredible wave of momentum should hopefully be enough to carry Lazio forward.

Inzaghi’s skill in the rotation and selection of his squad so far shouldn’t be underestimated, but the biggest test is yet to come.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 18

Atalanta: Duvan Zapata has resumed practicing fully after his complicate thigh injury and he is fully expected to be available against Parma, but the capacity remains to be determined. Pierluigi Gollini is dealing with the flu.

Bologna: Blerin Dzemaili is under the weather and is out, Federico Santander has recovered from a tibia bruise, while Ladislav Krejci will likely miss another one with a sore knee.

Brescia: Alfredo Donnarumma and Emanuele Ndoj are on the wrong side of questionable due to muscular problems. Bruno Martella joined the long list of sick players this week.  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

Serie A Match of the Round – Lazio vs Lecce

Despite the fairly lopsided result, Lazio-Lecce was the funniest and most eventful game of the round. The Biancocelesti came into the contest having triumphed three times in a row, against Fiorentina, Torino and Milan, while the Salentini had collected four straight ties.

Filippo Inzaghi was able to field almost all of his go-to XI minus Stefan Radu, who is hurt, and replaced him with Patric, with some re-shuffling in the back as Francesco Acerbi was used as left centre-back. Manuel Lazzari manned the right wing with Adam Marusic on the shelf. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 11

Atalanta: Marten De Roon is suspended. Andrea Masiello and José-Luis Palomino were available for the midweek round, so the only injured player is Duvan Zapata.

Bologna: Mitchell Dijks will remain sidelined for what is now billed more as a foot sprain than a contusion. Gary Medel is back in the squad list, while Mattia Destro and Takehiro Tomiyasu remain sidelined. Federico Santander was hit on the calf but he is available.

Brescia: Jesse Joronen is questionable due to the bruise that forced him to miss the last game. It is unlikely that there will any return among their injured players, with Giangiacomo Magnani being the closest. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Eight

Juventus:  Danilo is the only injured player returning, while Aaron Ramsey, Mattia De Sciglio and Douglas Costa need more time, even though the first two have resumed practicing fully. 

Inter: Alexis Sanchez underwent surgery to repair some torn peroneal tendons in the left ankle and will miss up to three months. Danilo D’Ambrosio fractured a toe while with Italy and should be out for four weeks. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Seven

Standings implications: Juventus prevailed in the Derby d’Italia and now lead the table with a narrow maring over Inter. Atalanta continue to be on a warpath and trounced Lecce. There were few ties in this round as Napoli did not manage to bend Torino, Roma could not get past Cagliari and Lazio threw it away against Bologna. Fiorentina instead kept it rolling against Udinese. Milan returned to winning ways in a battle with Genoa on Saturday night, while Sampdoria hit rock-bottom against Verona. SPAL flattened Parma, garnering their second W of the season and thus leaving the two Genoa-based sides in the last two places of the standings.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Two

Atalanta: Timothy Castagne will miss another one as he is recovering from a meniscus tear, but he should be ready after the break.

Bologna: no absentees for the Felsinei who will play tonight.

Brescia: Mario Balotelli continue serving his suspension, while Giangiacomo Magnani will miss another one too. Ernesto Torregrossa has recovered and might start. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 1

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic is a suspended, while Luis Muriel is sick, which will cost him a place in the XI but not the call-upTimothy Castagne had surgery to remove a torn meniscus and should miss the first two games.

Bologna: Jerdy Schouten picked up a knee sprain in the pre-season but he has recovered enough to be called up. 

Brescia: Mario Balotelli is disqualified for the first four fixtures, while Ales Mateju will sit out just the first one for the same reason. Emmanuel Ndoj is dealing with an ankle injury that will cost him some time. Andrea Cistana missed the recent Coppa Italia game for a similar, but smaller, issue, but could be back for the opening match. Daniele Dessena, Daniele Gastaldello have recovered from small injuries, while Giangiacomo Magnani and Ernero Torregrossa have been ruled out.  Continue reading