The international break can often be a time of rest and recuperation for Serie A clubs. Not for Lazio.
Outside the gates of Formello, the investigation into the club’s handling of its Covid-19 testing continues to attract endless debate and speculation.
Inside, Luis Alberto’s public complaints about the club buying an aeroplane while not fully paying their players angered staff and fans alike.
On the pitch, Ciro Immobile finally returned to availability after eventually testing negative for the coronavirus, but the celebratory mood was soon dampened when the Serbian FA announced that Sergej Milinkovic-Savic picked up the virus on international duty. Continue reading →
Sassuolo: the Neroverdi were missing their top three players against Napoli, but they won anyway thanks a brand-new scheme by Roberto De Zerbi, who, for once, opted for caution and a three-man back-line and got rewarded with their talented central midfielders stepping up. Filip Djuricic has COVID and will not return here, Domenico Berardi and Francesco Caputo have been called up, but they might be limited, so it is possible Giacomo Raspadori stays initially in a big role and Gregoire Defrel gets the nod. Both the Frenchman and Jeremie Boga have not looked great as they work their way into shape, while Hamed Traore is generally pretty lively. Even if at less than 100 percent, Caputo and Betardi are always good choices, while Lopez would be an outstanding one if used as no.10 to substitute Djuricic. Continue reading →
Crotone: they had their best offensive game to date in the Cagliari trip, unfortunately their defence keeps letting them down and they do not have the horses to fully make up for it. Junior Messias and Salvatore Molina capitalized on their good run of form with their first goals of the season versus the Sardinians and they have welcomed back linchpin Ahmad Benali, who will be a weapon once he will have his legs underneath him. Simy has nailed two PKs so far and he always has a chance or two during matches. Arkadiusz Reca is coming off an assist and has squarely been their best wing-back. Jacopo Petriccione is likely to fill in for Luca Cigarini and he could be a cheap plug. The Goddess have been rather shoddy defensively so far.
When Lazio’s third goal hit the net against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night to cap a superb return to the Champions League, the fans’ elation was mixed with surprise.
Who would have possibly predicted that the decisive goal of the Biancocelesti’s first group stage match in 13 years would be scored by Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro?
The midfielder himself appeared as stunned as anyone by how events unfolded.
“When I signed for Lazio I didn’t think that I would play straight away, I’d like to thank the coach for this,” he said after the game.
He wasn’t the only one. Akpa Akpro’s arrival from Serie B side Salernitana over the summer fell under the radar, with most fan and media attention understandably being directed towards €20m man Vedat Muriqi, a botched move for David Silva and the failure to upgrade the defence. Continue reading →
Atalanta: Matteo Pessina returned in Champions League from a late-season patellar dislocation. Ruslan Malinovskyi had an old scar in his adductor flare up and missed the previous game, but he is set to be available Saturday. Cristiano Piccini (knee) could return sooner rather than later, while Pierluigi Gollini (knee) is at least two weeks away.
Benevento: Nicolas Viola has resumed practicing after his meniscus surgery and made the squad list. Gabriele Moncini and Federico Barba are out again to muscular problems and are joined in that regard by Iago Falque. Continue reading →
Napoli: they did not get to play the third game because of well-known reasons, but the first two were pretty indicative. Victor Osimhen has yet to score, but he has had a major impact anyway and he is bound to break through soon. In the meantime, Dries Mertens has led the charge (two goals, two assists), helped by the resurgent Hirving Lozano, who has kept up the momentum from the restart. The injury to Lorenzo Insigne and Piotr Zielinski and Elijf Elmas getting COVID might slow down the deployment 4-2-3-1 in full force, but that should be the way forward and the arrival of Tiemoué Bakayokocements it. The absences could give Matteo Politano and/or Stanislav Lobotka a bigger role than usual and the former scored in the Genoa romp. If Atalanta do not adjust the way they defend, they could make some sweet music on counters.
Lorenzo Montipò: Benevento had struggled defensively in the first two matches, and that was a little uncharacteristic given the type of team they were last season, but they bounced back and held a clean sheet versus Bologna, also thanks to the heroics of their last bulwark, who stopped the opponents on point-blank attempts at least three times.
Theo Hernandez(9 points): Milan have yet to concede this season and the Spaniard sealed the Spezia game with one of his glorious sprints down the left flank, switching field position in a hurry after stripping an opponent and capping it off with a pinpoint strike in the bottom corner. Continue reading →
Results: COVID-19 took away two fixtures in this round, including the much anticipated Juventus-Napoli. In the other crunch game, Lazio weathered the early storm produced by Inter and came away with a quality. Atalanta keep rolling and bagged five goals against Cagliari, while Milan throttled Spezia in the second half and the they are the only two perfect teams in the season. Right behind them in the standings there is Sassuolo, which rag-dolled Crotone. Roma snatched their first W of the season over the point-less Udinese, same feat for Sampdoria, which upset Fiorentina on the road. Benevento is now up to six points after squeaking by Bologna.
Parma: Dejan Kulusevski willed them to victory, again, versus the lowly Brescia with an assist and a scorcher and he is finishing his stay in style, while Gervinho has been pretty paltry in recent matches, scoring just once in the last seven. Gianluca Caprari took advantage of his increased minutes and converted a PK, while among the other back-ups Luca Siligardi has been the liveliest. Roberto Inglese is tough to trust since his minutes are still spotty. Juraj Kucka returned from a short absence and he and Jasmin Kurtic are surely capable of doing damage offensively. Matteo Darmian is coming off his first goal of the season and also Riccardo Gagliolo notched one lately but their fullbacks will have their hands full defensively in this one.
Standings implications: Juventus did not squander the second chance to wrap up the title race and took home the ninth Scudetto in a row with a two-nil win against Sampdoria. Inter leapfrogged Atalanta in second position with a comfortable win over Genoa, while the Goddess shared the spoils with Milan. Roma gained two points over the Rossoneri in the race to the fifth spot as they topped Fiorentina. Napoli helped those two team out by defeating Sassuolo in a bizarro game and there are no longer doubts regarding who will qualify to Europa League, it is just a matter of positioning. Parma eked out one in Brescia. With Lecce losing to Bologna in heart-breaking fashion, everybody is safe besides Genoa, even tough Torino could not beat SPAL, while Udinese bested Cagliari.