Breaking down Lazio’s Mercato Needs

Lazio will be making its highly anticipated return to the Champions League next season and will be eager to hit the ground running in Europe’s elite competition. Simone Inzaghi’s men surprised Italy this season, springing an unlikely title challenge, but ultimately fell short. In many ways, their lack of depth hurt them late and caused the Biancocelesti to drop unnecessary points. With Lazio competing on three fronts next year, Igli Tare and Claudio Lotito will use this summer to retool the side and offer Inzaghi more flexibility.

According to recent reports, Lazio are in the market for another striker. Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa formed a deadly duo in the final third this season, but Lazio lacked quality depth when either was out of the lineup. Felipe Caicedo finished the season with nine goals but left a lot to be desired at crucial moments while Bobby Adenkanye failed to break through Inzaghi’s starting eleven.

Lazio have since been linked with former Real Madrid striker Borja Mayoral. In recent times, however, Fenerbahce’s Vedat Muriqi has emerged as the favorite up front. The Kosovo international will reportedly join Lazio for 18 million euros and will give Inzaghi some much-needed depth.

Beyond Muriqi, Lazio are closing in on SPAL’s Mohamed Fares for the left wingback role. Jony struggled to make an impact when called upon while Senad Lulic is beginning to slow down out wide. As a result, reinforcements are needed to offer Lazio some width and pace in the wide areas. Jordan Lukaku never got going in Inzaghi’s system and could very well be on his way out this summer. Fares is already familiar with Serie A and was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for SPAL. At eight million euros, Fares could offer Lazio great value, similarly to Manuel Lazzari down the right-hand side.

While Fares and Muriqi offer depth and will largely be used in rotation, Lazio have set their sights on a huge free agent signing. Manchester City’s David Silva is reportedly heavily considering moving to the nation’s capital and joining forces with his compatriot Luis Alberto in the middle of the park. The duo will undoubtedly form one of the league’s most creative midfield units and will thrive supplying Immobile and Correa.

Silva may be approaching 35 years old, but the Spaniard could offer Lazio another season or two at the highest level. Lazio struggled to break sides down towards the tail end of the season and could benefit from Silva’s presence in their lineup. The former Valencia man, however, is currently weighing an offer from Qatar and will give Lazio his final answer shortly. In any case, Silva would be a major coup for Tare and would offer the side a wealth of experience going into the Champions League.

Fares, Muriqi, and Silva would represent a phenomenal summer for Lazio, but if Inzaghi’s men want to take the next step, they arguably need another centreback. Francesco Acerbi, Luis Felipe, and Stefan Radu formed an uncompromising trio at the back this season, but they could benefit from an injection of youth.

The Biancocelesti were previously linked to Hellas Verona’s Marash Kumbulla, but the defender is now Inter bound. In many ways, the Verona man is an ideal profile for Lazio and would have refreshed their rearguard. Beyond Kumbulla, Lazio could inquire about Juventus wantaway Daniele Rugani. The former Empoli man desperately needs a move away and could rekindle his best form away from Juve. In any case, another defender would help reduce Acerbi’s workload significantly and tighten up their back three ahead of Thomas Strakosha.

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Lazio’s 2019/20 end of season report card

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What a year it’s been for Lazio. The 2019/20 season will never be forgotten due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but for Aquile fans a whirlwind league campaign and long-awaited return to the Champions League will stick in the memory too.

Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to grade the efforts of the capital club.

The Serie A campaign: A-

A bitterly disappointing season finale is still fresh in the memory. Lazio were a shadow of their former selves when they returned from the three-month break and fell from one point off the Serie A summit to fourth place. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Team of the Year

No major surprises among the 11 selections, which mirror pretty well how the fantasy season has gone.

Samir Handanovic (63 points): it has been a pretty challenging year for defenses, especially in the restart, and nobody really put up elite numbers when it comes to conceded goals. Inter surrendered the least, 36, which is pretty pedestrian if we compare it with previous seasons, but six fewer than any other team, as Lazio allowed 42 and Juventus 43. Handanovic came in second with his 13 clean sheets, on a par with Gianluigi Donnarumma, trailing Udinese’s Juan Musso by a single unit. Continue reading

Four reasons Lazio still have much to play for in Serie A finale

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A wild and wonderful Lazio season comes to an end on Saturday when they travel south to face Coppa Italia holders Napoli.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side have nothing but pride left to play for in the league, as they are guaranteed to finish seventh regardless of the result.

On the face of it, Lazio have little on the line either. They can still finish anywhere between second or fourth, but a Champions League spot is guaranteed either way.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find a few reasons to get excited about the climactic moment of a memorable campaign for the Biancocelesti.

Ciro Immobile’s quest for history Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 36

BOLOGNA-LECCE

Bologna: they stayed in the game until the end but they could not perforate Atalanta’s defence and, result-wise, they have been on a pretty steep downward trajectory. They could use some offensive help because Musa Barrow and Roberto Soriano have been the only ones producing in the last month, since Riccardo Orsolini’s effectiveness has abated, Nicola Sansone has not been great all season long and Rodrigo Palacio, while being a tactical weapon, is not very prolific. Deploying Federico Santander and Andreas Skov Olsen has not changed things and they also lost one of their most trusted contributors in Takehiro Tomiyasu. However, the match-up could help their attackers get off their schneid.

Suggested picks: Barrow, Soriano, Orsolini. Continue reading

Record-breaking Lazio burst back into life in time for the final act

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What a difference a win can make. You could almost feel the sighs of relief breezing through your window on Thursday night in Rome, as a 2-1 victory for Lazio over Cagliari secured a top four finish.

Last week, I noted the improvements seen in the 0-0 draw against Udinese. The display during the 2-1 defeat to Juventus that followed was also encouraging despite the result, considering the ludicrous list of absences facing Simone Inzaghi.

Regardless, Lazio went into the clash with the Sardinians without a win in five matches.

Some of the more pessimistic supporters were even starting to glance over their shoulder towards Roma, creeping up behind them in fifth. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 36

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic is again sidelined due to lack of form. Duvan Zapata (ankle), José Palomino and Berat Djimsiti (toe) picked up knocks in the last game but they are all available. The most at risk of being rested is the last one.

Bologna: Takehiro Tomiyasu closes his season in advance due to a biceps femoris strain. Jerdy Schouten is unlikely to be back here from the same injury.

Brescia: Stefano Sabelli is suspended. Simon Skrabb is nursing an ankle sprain. Jesse Joronen, Birkir Bjarnason, Jhon Chancellor and Alfredo Donnarumma will get the day off.

Cagliari: Christian Oliva and Luca Pellegrini  will stay on the shelf again with their ankle sprains.

Fiorentina: Gaetano Castrovilli is suspended. Dalbert subbed off versus Inter but it was just fatigue, Bartlomiej Dragowski missed some time with back spasms.

Genoa: Lukas Lerager is out due to yellow-card accumulation. Cristian Romero bowed out in the Derby, Francesco Cassata, Stefano Sturaro and Antonio Sanabria are dinged up but they have been pretty secretive with their injuries.

Inter: Nicolò Barella is suspended. Stefan De Vrij left the last game with a knee sprain but it is not believed to be a major issue.

Juventus: Mattia De Sciglio is expected back soon from his thigh strain. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) and Gonzalo Higuain (back) are day-to-day. Douglas Costa suffered a grade two thigh strain that will likely cost him the rest of the season, Champions League included. 

Lazio: Manuel Lazzari is banned. Luis Alberto (knee), Joaquin Correa (knee), Jony (thigh) and Adam Marusic (thigh) all came back in the last game, while Djavan Anderson missed it with fatigue. Stefan Radu (calf) might be back maybe in the season finale. Francesco Acerbi is questionable with knee soreness.

Lecce: Marco Calderoni  returns from a contracture, while Khouma Babacar and Diego Farias were late scratches for the past game and are questionable, but at least they are available this time around. Luca Rossettini has shaken off his worrying illness.

Milan: Theo Hernandez and Ismael Bennacer are suspended. Simon Kjaer is not 100 percent but should gut it out, especially because Alessio Romagnoli pulled his calf and will miss the remaining matches. Andrea Conti hurt his knee but the exams ruled out structural damages. Samu Castillejo and Leo Duarte (thigh) are available after spending time on the shelf. 

Napoli: David Ospina missed the last game with fatigue, but shook it off quickly, while Mario Rui will be rested.

Parma: Gaston Brugman is out due to yellow-card accumulation and also strained his calf, so he is done for the season. Bruno Alves (hip) came back in the previous game, while Riccardo Gagliolo might miss another one with a similar ailment. Hernani suffered a quad strain and he too will skip the remaining fixtures. Matteo Scozzarella (calf) and Andreas Cornelius (thigh) are trying to come back but face an uphill battle.

Roma: Roger Ibanez is likely to miss another one due to a thigh injury, while Cengiz Under is being assessed after being ruled out late for the previous match. Federico Fazio (ankle), Antonio Mirante (calf), Juan Jesus (hip) and Davide Santon (calf) are nursing minor stuff that cost them some time.

Sampdoria: Omar Colley and Ronaldo Vieira are suspended. Albin Ekdal subbed off in the last game after hurting his ankle and he is out.

Sassuolo: Mehdi Bourabia was sent off versus Milan. Jeremie Boga picked up a muscular injury and he is being evaluated. Pedro Obiang (thigh), Gregoire Defrel (thigh) and Vlad Chiriches (calf) will probably sit out another one.

SPAL: Kevin Bonifazi was red carded from the bench against Roma. Andrea Cerri fractured a phalanx in the left hand that will cost him some time. Jacopo Sala sprained is ankle and is iffy, while Sergio Floccari and Lucas Castro have been ruled out in advance. 

Torino: Armando Izzo is expected to return from his mild knee sprain, while Lorenzo De Silvestri is out for the season due to an AC joint sprain in the right shoulder.

Udinese: Kevin Lasagna was ruled out very late against Juventus due to a thigh issue. Walace has a shoulder problem but he is good to go, William Troost-Ekong is suspended.

Verona: Giampaolo Pazzini (thigh), Pawel Dawidowicz (pec) and Claud Adjapong are trying to come back from their minor physical problems, while it is probably too early for Marash Kumbulla. Alan Empereur, Salvatore Bocchetti, Valerio Verre and Matteo Lovato are out with last-minute issues. 

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Serie A Injuries and Suspensions Report – Round 35

Atalanta: Hans Hateboer is suspended, while Josip Ilicic again was left out to work on his conditioning.

Bologna: Mitchell Dijks is disqualified, Jerdy Schouten (thigh) remains sidelined.

Brescia: Nikolas Spalek is out due to yellow-card accumulation, Simon Skrabb is questionable with a bruised ankle. Jesse Joronen returned in the last game. Time is running out for Andrea Cistana. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 34

VERONA-ATALANTA

Verona: after a consistent stretch with a pure striker up front, Ivan Juric went back to a false-nine, Valerio Verre in this case, against Roma, but the results were not that great, with the second half push coming on the heels of the subs. The returns from injury of Fabio Borini, Eddie Salcedo and Valentin Eysseric will allow the coach to go that route more often, especially against top teams, although Samuel Di Carmine has been decently effective (three goals in the last six games). Mattia Pessina scored again and he has separated himself from their slew of attacking midfielders, while Mattia Zaccagni picked up the assist. Darko Lazovic has been their most consistent player.

Suggested picks: Pessina, Lazovic, Borini. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 33

ATALANTA-BRESCIA

Atalanta: their supersonic offense spiked Juventus, with Duvan Zapata returning to the stat-sheet after three games, Ruslan Malinovskyi smashing one home in brilliant fashion and Alejandro Gomez and Luis Muriel setting up their teammates. Josip Ilicic is not all the way back but looked a bit better. It is an embarrassment of riches and, in a pristine match-up, a lot could come down on who rests and who gets to start, but Muriel being out all but assures Zapata will be in the XI. Robin Gosens quickly recovered from a thigh injury but might still be spared, however Timothy Castagne and Hans Hateboer are as big fantasy weapons as the Dutchman. Mario Pasalic would be palatable if starting.

Suggested picks: Zapata, Malinovskyi, Ilicic. Continue reading