Lazio don’t need a change of coach – but they do need their coach to change

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It would’ve been painful, if it wasn’t so predictable.

As Christopher Jullien flew through the Glasgow night sky towards an inswinging corner, every Lazio fan knew what was coming before it happened.

The Lazio defence stood gazing in admiration at the defender as he rose. Bang. 2-1 Celtic. One minute to go. Inevitable.

It was the third time this season that Lazio have blown a 1-0 half time lead to lose 2-1, after similar debacles against Cluj and SPAL.

When they’re not doing that, they’re coming from behind twice and missing a stoppage time penalty to draw with Bologna, or mounting a frankly ridiculous comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Atalanta. Continue reading

So much for ‘Year Zero’: Like a moody teenager, presumptuous Lazio refuse to learn lessons

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Old habits die hard. But what if they refuse to die at all?

That, sadly, appears to be the reality facing Lazio after a week in which a familiar trait reared its ugly head twice in the space of five days.

In mirror-image matches, Lazio took the lead away to technically inferior sides, SPAL in Serie A and Cluj in the Europa League, before whimpering to a pair of 2-1 defeats.

Technically inferior they may be, but those teams taught Simone Inzaghi’s men a lesson in the importance of desire and character.

But what’s the point in even attending lessons if you’re not going to learn? Continue reading

The facts behind the figures: What we’ve learned about Lazio from the Serie A salary report

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At the start of the week, La Gazzetta dello Sport published its annual breakdown of each Serie A club’s wage bill for the season ahead.

Much of the reaction to the article has focused on Juventus’ massive financial advantage over the rest of Italy and the impact the summer mercato has had on Inter’s spending.

But there were plenty of intriguing sub-plots to be found behind the figures, not least at Lazio. For example…

On paper, a top-four finish would be an over-achievement…

This is by no means a secret, but the gulf in wage spend between Lazio and the teams they are expected to compete with for a top four place this season is significant.  Continue reading

Lazio’s quest for Champions League football has been long and painful – but this could be their time

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Ahead of the opening weekend of the Serie A season, there is no doubt about Lazio’s objective.

Champions League football has proven infuriatingly elusive for the Roman club since they last graced the competition in 2007/08, as they’ve found just about every imaginable way of not quite getting there.

In 2010/11 they finished fifth, losing out on a play-off place to Udinese on goal difference. Continue reading

Three Players Lazio Are Set to Target

After yet another indifferent season in the nation’s capital, Lazio are now turning to the transfer window to bolster their roster. Following Simone Inzaghi’s contract extension, Lazio president Claudio Lotito is ready to reward his loyalty with a few signings. Over the past few days, a number of names have been linked with the biancocelesti. This season, their squad lacked depth, and inevitably cost them top four; a prospect Lotito and co. are looking to avoid next season.

1) Wesley Moraes – Club Brugge

Lazio have been linked with the Brazilian for the last couple of transfer windows, and seem to be closing in on him this coming summer. In recent times, Gianluca Di Marzio has reported that Lazio have offered Club Brugge 15 million euros plus an additional 5 million in bonuses. Barring any hitches, the deal should be closed shortly.

The target man would provide some much needed depth to Lazio’s front-line, and could act as the perfect foil to Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo. At times this season, the Italian international was tasked with leading the line on his own, and could use the rest. Moraes is capable of holding up play as a target man or take on his defender.

Give his physical stature, Wesley will slot in wonderfully into the Italian game, and he’ll be able to impose himself on his new surroundings.

2) Manuel Lazzari – SPAL

The SPAL wingback had a phenomenal season with the Ferrara-based club, and is now attracting interest from Italy’s bigger clubs. In 33 appearances this season, Lazzari registered eight assists, and was a true force down the right, earning his first call-up to the senior national team.

This season, Lazio desperately needed depth at the wingback position, and generally deployed Adam Marusic down the right. However, after a bright debut season, the 25-year-old slowed down, and much like Immobile, needed rest. In his 40 appearances in all competitions, the Montenegrin scored three goals and added one assist; a far cry from his first season with Lazio.

Signing Lazzari would go a long way as it would not only offer some much needed fresh legs, but would also encourage competition.

3) Daniele Baselli – Torino 

Another player that has recently been linked to a move to Lazio is Torino’s Daniele Baselli. Since joining I Granata, Baselli’s game has stagnated, and he arguably needs a move away to further his development. Before joining Torino, Baselli was one of Italy’s most highly-rated youngsters, due to his impressive technique and wide range of passing.

While Lazio’s midfield ranks are deep enough for the time being, Marco Parolo, Lucas Leiva and Milan Badelj aren’t getting any younger, and could use some refreshing. Moreover, Baselli has a different skill-set to Inzaghi’s current midfielders, and could offer some much needed invention from the middle of the park.

His five goals in all competitions demonstrate that the talent’s there for Baselli, but he may need a change of scenery to continue his progression. Inzaghi might just prove to be the right manager for the 27-year-old, as he has a positive track record with players ready to take the next step.

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Five points to take away from a season of triumph and torment at Lazio

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Lazio’s campaign of highs and lows concluded with the latter on Sunday when Simone Inzaghi’s side lost 3-1 at Torino to finish the Serie A campaign in eighth place.

It was the Roman club’s worst league finish in three years and topped off a season of startling inconsistency.

The joy of a 3-0 win over Roma and an impressive 1-0 victory away to Inter was in stark contrast to lifeless performances that resulted in damaging defeats to the likes of Genoa, SPAL and above all the unforgivable 2-1 loss at home to already-relegated Chievo over Easter weekend.

The Coppa Italia triumph gave the campaign a huge lift, raising spirits and securing Europa League qualification for next season. Continue reading

AC Milan move for Simone Inzaghi is a logical step

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The Serie A managerial mery-go-round has started even earlier this summer, with three of the top five sides in Italy parting ways with their managers, just weeks after the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Max Allegri brings to an end his five year term with Italy’s dominant force, Juventus, whilst Inter Milan boss Luciano Spalletti has been fired, despite securing a top four finish.

However, former AS Roma boss Spalletti will not be the only managerial change at the San Siro this summer, with rivals AC Milan having already dispensed with head coach Gennaro Gattuso.

Continue reading

Where next for Simone Inzaghi?

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Since being appointed as Lazio’s interim head coach in 2016, Simone Inzaghi has transformed the biancocelesti into one of the league’s most compact sides, and has consistently delivered silverware, winning the Supercoppa in 2017 against Juventus, and most recently claiming the Coppa Italia this season after dispatching Atalanta. The two trophies are indicative of Inzaghi’s good work at the club, but it may be time for the Italian tactician to consider his future, and evaluate the possibility of joining one of Italy’s elite.

With both Juventus, and Milan considering him for their managerial vacancy, Inzaghi would be wise to wait before committing his future to Lazio. While club president Claudio Lotito and Inzaghi have an excellent rapport – to a point where the former views his tactician as ‘his son’ – it’s time Inzaghi demands more.

Given the current roster at his disposal, it’s clear Inzaghi’s gotten the most out of them, and has arguably seen his side peak. If they are to build off their two trophies, and consistently qualify for the Champions League, an aspiration shared by the entire club, they will undoubtedly need reinforcements. Going into next season, Lazio could arguably use another centre-back, a wing-back, and another striker to compete with Immobile and Caicedo.

Since Inzaghi’s hiring, Lotito has been conservative in the transfer market, and has opted for minor reinforcements rather than a complete squad upheaval. While this helps build chemistry, Lazio will need to dip into their transfer funds if they want to compete with the Milan clubs, and fierce rivals Roma. As the competition grows, so does their need to spend.

If Lotito guarantees Inzaghi a higher salary and more say on the transfer market, the Italian tactician should heavily consider remaining at Lazio for the foreseeable future. However, the managerial vacancy at Juventus may complicate affairs.

The bianconeri are far and away the best side in Italy, and don’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Armed with Cristiano Ronaldo, coaching Juventus is an enticing prospect for any manager, let alone an up and coming Italian one like Inzaghi. Given his positive relationship with Fabio Paratici that goes back to their childhood, the Lazio tactician could emerge as a front-runner for the role. His experience in Serie A will undoubtedly put him near the top of Juve’s list, but he’s not there alone.

In recent times, Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino have also been linked to the vacancy. In any case, joining Juventus would allow Inzaghi to take the next step in his career, and is a unique opportunity to grow his trophy case and reputation within the peninsula.

Milan, on the other hand, are frankly a less enticing option at the moment, but their appeal cannot be discounted. Despite their recent struggles, the rossoneri remain one of the league’s sleeping giants, and have improved significantly since last season. A lot, however, will depend on Champions League qualification, and whether or not, they will pip Inter or Atalanta to the final spot.

If they manage to claim top four, and promise to reinforce in key areas notably centre-back and left-wing, Inzaghi may be tempted to abandon his Lazio post for greener pastures.

While managing the biancocelesti has given Inzaghi the exposure and the necessary experience to take the next step from the primavera, managing one of Juventus or Milan may be an opportunity he can’t afford to turn down at this point in his career. After all, there aren’t many top class managers currently on the market, and by mere process of elimination, Inzaghi may find himself in contention for the jobs.

Much like he has done his entire career, expect Inzaghi to seize the opportunity and continue to propel his managerial career forward. That is, unless, Lotito makes him an offer he can’t refuse…

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Lazio must dust off chequebook to ward off Juventus interest in Simone Inzaghi

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As the haze from the post-Coppa Italia celebrations begins to clear, some images are stronger than others.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic rising higher than anyone to head in the opener. Joaquin Correa bursting through the Atalanta defence to seal Lazio’s seventh win in the competition.

And Simone Inzaghi being lifted on the shoulders of his players after masterminding the 2-0 victory from the touchline.

It was the crowning achievement of Inzaghi’s tenure in charge of the Roman club and one that silenced the critics, who had started to emerge after an inconsistent season in which he failed to achieve the objective of Champions League qualification. Continue reading

A Look At Juventus’ Coaching Candidates

With the future of Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri hanging in the balance after their recent European failure, a number of names have been linked with the bianconero hot seat. As Champions League glory remains the target, it remains to be seen just who president Andrea Agnelli will elect to lead the charge for the upcoming season. Here are the possibilities for the Juventus job.

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1) Mauricio Pochettino 

The Tottenham Hotspur manager has done an exceptional job with limited resources throughout his time in London, and has led the English side to their first Champions League final in their history. Win or lose against Liverpool come June 1st, Pochettino has alluded to the fact that his five-year tenure may be coming to an end. Italian media outlets have ran with his comments, and have recently linked him with the Juventus post.

The Argentine tactician has a clear philosophy at all clubs he’s been with, something Juventus have lacked under Allegri this season. However, one stumbling block remains his salary. According to Corriere dello Sport, Pochettino is demanding 20 million euros per season, making it rather difficult for the Italian champions to compete with suitors.

In any case, Pochettino should be Agnelli’s primary target, and would undoubtedly make the most of Juventus’ deep roster. With European glory as their priority, the Argentine may just prove to be exactly what Juventus need.

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2) Antonio Conte

Much like Pochettino, former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has been heavily linked with a return to Juventus in recent times. That being said, Sky’s Gianluca Di Marzio recently reported that the former Juventus tactician is extremely close to penning a deal with fierce rivals Inter. Regardless of these reports, Conte, a manager who set the first building blocks for this Juventus side eight years ago, remains a concrete possibility for the job.

A main concern for Agnelli, however, other than the fallout from his abrupt departure, is Conte’s ability to juggle European football along with domestic demands. In the past, the Italian tactician rarely rotated his eleven, and often struggled to replicate his side’s domestic form in Europe, crashing out of the Champions League group stages in disappointing fashion. Despite this, Conte recently came out in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, and claimed his stints with Chelsea and Italy have made him a better manager in this respect.

Moreover, it’s important to consider that Juventus’ side today are much stronger than Conte’s Juve, which is likely playing a decisive factor in the tactician’s decision to stall talks with Inter for the time being. While a reunion with Marotta at Inter is likely for Conte, don’t be surprised to see the veteran tactician replacing the man who succeeded him come summertime.

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3) Allegri v the field

Other than Pochettino and Conte, a number of other managers have been linked with the Juventus job, albeit less seriously. According to recent reports, Agnelli is also weighing up the option of hiring France boss Didier Deschamps. Much like Allegri, the French tactician is pragmatic with his approach, and would represent maintaining the status quo for Juventus.

Otherwise, Simone Inzaghi, Gian Piero Gasperini and Sinisa Mihajlovic have also been linked. The trio are all familiar with Italian football, and all have different merits. Firstly, Gasperini has done fantastic with Atalanta, getting them to their first Coppa Italia final in decades, and is two wins away from Champions League qualification. However, doubts remain over his ability to translate this to a big club, as seen through his past failure with Inter. In addition, there’s no reason why Gasperini should leave Atalanta after leading them to the first Champions League qualification in recent times. After all, Gasperini and gli Orobici are a match-made in heaven.

Inzaghi and Mihajlovic are interesting appointments in their own way, but frankly, are not Juventus calibre, especially if Champions League is the objective. If the bianconeri’s primary options aren’t feasible, Allegri may prove to be the best of the rest.

For the time being, no one really knows which way Agnelli is leaning, and could very well keep Allegri at the helm for the upcoming season. However, if recent reports are anything to go by, the Juventus president will likely be replacing Allegri by season’s end.

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