Crucial Stretch Ahead For Lazio

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With the race for top four intensifying, Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio will have to demonstrate they are serious about their Champions League aspirations.

After the international break, the biancocelesti will travel to the San Siro to take on Inter. Inzaghi’s men currently sit eight points behind third-place Inter, and will need to claim all three points if they want to have a serious shot at qualifying for Europe’s elite competition next season.

Notorious for their strong finishes, Lazio have been in decent form in league play, losing only one of their last six clashes. Their most recent 4-1 thumping of Parma is a good indicator that Lazio are ready to put their past inconsistencies behind them and push on. In addition to dispatching Parma, the biancocelesti also defeated fierce rivals, and fellow top four competitors, Roma comfortably 3-0 just a few weeks back.

While the international break may take some wind out of their sails, they will need to maintain this form against Inter and beat an Icardi-less side. The good news for Lazio, is that their playmaker Luis Alberto, is demonstrating last season’s form, and is consistently pulling the strings between the lines again. Against Parma, the Spaniard was all over the pitch, scoring one goal and registering two assists, in what was arguably his best performance of the season.

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After Inter, the capital-based side will also get the opportunity to play the current holders of fourth place, Milan, in mid-April. Much like their clash against Inter, this encounter will have massive implications for Champions League football, and they will need to be up for it. Coming off their first defeat in league play since December, Gattuso’s men will be eager to extend their lead over Lazio. Currently, the rossoneri hold a six-point cushion over Lazio, however, that may be subject to change, considering there are three fixtures before their clash.

With that being said, Milan don’t exactly have it easy prior to their game against Lazio, having to travel to Sampdoria and league leaders Juventus. Regardless, much of their top four fate will depend on their encounter against Lazio.

In the meantime, Inzaghi’s men will have to dispatch SPAL, Udinese and Sassuolo. While on paper Lazio are favourites for the three points, only a fool would take these games for granted. In the past, Lazio have dropped points against the league’s cellar dwellers and mid-table outfits; something that will need to be avoided in the month of April.

Moreover, with both SPAL and Udinese fighting for survival, these clashes will be anything but straightforward. Regardless, much like the teams around them, Lazio have no choice but to claim the three points on all three occasions, otherwise, like last season, they will be on the outside looking in come May.

As the season winds down to a close, it’s now time to separate the pretenders from the contenders. Until now, Lazio have done well to remain with the pack despite their struggles and injury concerns. With clashes against direct competitors on the horizon, the biancocelesti have no choice: Win out, or miss out. At the very least, their fate’s in their own hands.

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Three Things Lazio Need To Do To Get European Dream On Track

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Following their last-gasp defeat against Genoa, serious doubt was cast over Lazio’s top four hopes. The biancocelesti now find themselves four points behind Milan, and three back of fierce rivals Roma. Factor in a narrow first leg defeat in the Europa League against Sevilla, and you quickly see that Lazio’s Champions League dream is quickly fading. Here are three things Simone Inzaghi must do to get his side back on track in the race for top four.

1) Inzaghi must decide his best eleven, once and for all. 

Over the course of this season, Inzaghi has often tinkered with his starting eleven, leading many to believe he’s not yet aware of what his best lineup is. While injuries have constrained his choices, Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are set to return this week. With 14 games left to the season, Lazio cannot afford another slip-up, especially considering Milan’s red-hot form. Ciro Immobile is undoubtedly the first name on the team-sheet, but who should accompany him up top is not always clear. Joaquin Correa has proven to be dangerous, but typically thrives in a three-pronged attack, which allows him the freedom to drift wide.

When deployed alongside Immobile in a two-striker setup, Correa often leaves the Italian striker isolated as he roams freely. With Luis Alberto returning to the fold against Sevilla this week, Inzaghi would be wise to field a three-man attack with the Spaniard and Correa flanking Immobile. Against Juventus, this tactic worked wonders and if it weren’t for their own wastefulness, the biancocelesti could have put the tie to bed early in the second half.

With Milinkovic-Savic and Lucas Leiva in the midfield, Lazio will have all the solidity they need without compromising offensive firepower. Against Sevilla this week, Inzaghi’s men will need to be at their best if they are to overturn the tie, and could do so with this lineup. Let’s not forget – a Europa League win equals safe passage into next year’s Champions League.

2) Beat the teams below them. 

This one is rather obvious but could prove to be crucial in their hopes for European football. All too often Lazio are guilty of stooping down to the level of their opposition and giving them a chance at beating them. Just recently in their 1-0 win over Empoli, Lazio were wholly unconvincing and gave the Serie A minnows ample opportunities to hurt them. Luckily for them, they were able to nick a goal against the run of play and maintain the pace at the top. The same occurred the week before against Frosinone and will continue to happen if it goes unaddressed.

This season, Inzaghi’s men have dropped points against Serie A’s mid-table sides including the likes of Genoa, Torino, Chievo, and Sassuolo. While on their day all these sides possess quality and enterprise to take on any team in the league, Lazio should be claiming all three points regularly against the provinciali. With the season soon coming to a close, this is a pattern Inzaghi will be looking to rectify immediately.

3) Alter their shot selection and stop being wasteful in front of goal. 

Only Juventus and Napoli take more shots than Lazio in Serie A, as the biancocelesti are currently averaging 17 shots per game. Yet, that doesn’t always translate to goals. Right now, Lazio have the fewest goals scored of any side chasing top four football and would have the fewest goals scored in the entire top half of the table if it weren’t for Walter Mazzarri’s Torino.

At the moment, Lazio are not only being wasteful in front of goal, but they’re also firing low percentage shots. Moving forward, Lazio should prioritize high quality chances over the long-range screamers they seem to be enjoying. Inzaghi’s men would be wise to play that extra pass instead of firing away from outside the eighteen-yard box. With players like Luis Alberto and Correa, they can afford to take on an extra man or take a few extra touches before sliding through a teammate.

If they are to qualify for Champions League football, they’re going to need to start scoring more – starting with their clashes against Sevilla and Udinese. Fewer shots of higher quality will yield better results than shots from just about anywhere – a lesson Inzaghi’s men must learn sooner rather than later.

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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

Three Positives From Lazio’s Win Against Frosinone

With a number of teams vying for top four, Lazio desperately needed to claim the three points against Frosinone to maintain pace. While the biancocelesti weren’t at their best, Simone Inzaghi’s men did just enough to get the victory and remain in the race for top four alongside Milan, Atalanta, and fierce rivals Roma. As a whole, Inzaghi will be pleased with his side’s recent form, given their indifferent end to 2018. Here are three positives from Lazio’s win against Frosinone.

Opting to give Lucas Leiva a rest, Inzaghi fielded Milan Badelj  at the heart of midfield and tasked him with shielding the defence. Until now, the Croatian hasn’t lived up to expectations and has largely disappointed when given a chance. Against Frosinone, however, Badelj was at this best and demonstrated exactly why Lazio were so eager to snap him up this past summer.

The former Fiorentina man finished the game with the most aerial duels won, the most tackles, and the most ball recoveries. When Frosinone looked dangerous, Badelj was typically there to clear; something Inzaghi will be hoping continues, especially considering the biancocelesti are competing on three fronts.

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Napoli Loss Highlights Lazio’s Woes Once More

Despite a relatively good start to the game, Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio still fell short against Napoli and eventually lost 2-1 to the hosts, relinquishing fourth place to Milan and fierce rivals Roma. The biancocelesti started the game nicely pressuring Ancelotti’s men high, and tested Napoli keeper Alex Meret early. The young shot-stopper proved to be up to the challenge and kept Lazio at bay until Jose Callejon found the back of the net.

Minutes later, Arek Milik would double the partenopei’s lead, rendering Ciro Immobile’s second half goal a mere consolation strike. Francesco Acerbi would also get sent off with twenty to play, compounding Lazio’s issues further. While Inzaghi won’t be too displeased with the performance as a whole, the loss highlighted Lazio’s woes once more. Incapable of generating much offence, a large part of the offensive burden falls on the welcoming shoulders of Ciro Immobile.

The Italian international has done well when called upon, scoring 11 goals in league play thus far, yet can’t be tasked with carrying Lazio week in, week out. Yesterday, it was Luis Alberto who got the start behind the talisman, but the Spaniard failed to impress. Out of his 13 crosses on the night, only one found its intended target. His dribbles completed percentage wasn’t much better, beating his man a mere three out of 13 times. Moreover, Luis Alberto often found himself drifting wide to create space for himself, a position in which he doesn’t exactly thrive from.

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Inzaghi looks to mark Lazio landmark by lifting Napoli curse

Lazio v Napoli - Serie A - Stadio Olimpico del Nuoto

You can’t escape a creeping feeling of positivity in Rome right now.

The turn of the year has refreshed the flagging optimism of some fans, the sun has begun to emerge from hibernation and the return of Serie A is just around the corner.

Additionally, Lazio’s 4-1 win over Novara last weekend secured the Roman club a Coppa Italia quarter-final against Inter and saw the likes of Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic show further hints that they are finally returning to their best form.

The transfer market has opened and sporting director Igli Tare has started to deliver on his vow to trim the squad down to size, finding loan moves for three promising youngsters in need of game time as Joseph Minala returned to Salernitana and Venezia brought in both Alessandro Rossi and Cristiano Lombardi. 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

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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Lazio In Dire Need of a Complete Shake-Up

Coming off a narrow defeat against Atalanta, Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio are now winless in their last seven in all competitions and still trail Milan in fourth despite having played one more game than their counterparts. With Roma, Sampdoria, Sassuolo and now Atalanta closing in on them, the biancocelesti are in need of a change, otherwise Champions League football will become a distant dream.

While Ciro Immobile has still found the back of the net regularly, goals have been hard to come by at the Stadio Olimpico. In fact, Lazio’s 22 goals in Serie A represent the fewest of any side in Italy’s top ten this season. Factor in a mere four clean sheets in all competitions, and it’s clear Inzaghi’s men are struggling on both ends.

Inzaghi has previously resorted to taking the side into a ritiro, a mid-season punitive training camp, a common tactic among Italian tacticians; and yet, their issues persist. Star midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic continues to struggle in the middle of the park with one goal in 15 appearances while only Joaquin Correa has made an impact from their summer signings.

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