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

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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

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

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

Lazio stand united as season teeters on knife-edge

Lazio Chievo

The message was clear – this is not a punishment, but a moment to address the elephant in the room.

Lazio’s failure to beat rock-bottom Chievo last weekend, a game that they needed to come from behind to take a point from, sparked an inevitable wave of criticism and pushed the club hierarchy into calling the first ‘ritiro’ of Simone Inzaghi’s reign.

It was the capital club’s third league draw in a row, with a dismal Europa League defeat to Apollon Limassol coming between those results, and came at a cost as Milan leapfrogged the Biancocelesti into the fourth and final Champions League spot they are so desperate to make their own. 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