One of the best offensive sides in Italy last season entered its offseason quite disappointed. They only missed out on the Champions league finishing 5th behind Inter Milan. Many expected Lazio to go for a push this season eventually snagging up that 4th place that only eluded them by points last season.
Many were shocked to see that the exact opposite happened. Not only did they sell arguably two of their best players, well they sold Felipe Anderson to West Ham and lost Stefan de Vrij to Inter for free, but what perplexed many was the fact they didn’t bring in any significant replacements. Their most expensive purchase was Correa from Sevilla who is a solid player but at his tender age of 23 is nowhere near the proven high level of the outgoing Felipe Anderson.
Despite losing those players, a big plus for Lazio was keeping Sergej Milinkovic – Savic, whom many considered the hottest name in this past transfer market. We saw many rumours every day with every top football team in Europe being connected with him at one point or another. They also retained their up and coming coach in Simone Inzaghi whom many rumoured as the potential Allegri replacement at Juventus if he were to leave. Luckily for the Laziales that didn’t come to fruition.
After a decent preseason, many asked the same questions they had early in the offseason as the first two games they played were defeats. Admittedly they played Napoli in the first round and Juventus in the second round and both matches were much closer than the end result suggested. There was something new in Lazio style of play. They didn’t play as aggressive and attacking as before but with a sense of calm which quite resembled the Juventus style of play.
After those two losses, they had a mini four game winning streak followed by a tough loss against their biggest rival Roma. The rest of the season was a bit more of the same as they easily dispatched teams that were weaker than them but once again hit a wall against a tough opponent in Inter Milan as they lost 3-0. It quickly became evident that they are a good squad certainly capable of finishing top 5 this season but there was a clear gap in quality between them and the top teams like Juventus, Napoli and Inter.
After 19 rounds of football, they currently occupy the 4th place in the standings trailing Inter by 7 points. Even the point differential proves that there is a significant gap in quality between them and other top teams which will become even more obvious as we take a look at the team stats. In the 19 rounds of football, they won 9 matches, drew 5 and lost 5. They scored 28 goals which equates to 1.47 per match and conceded 21 which equates 1.1 goals per match.
From this statistical overview, it is clear that they don’t play as attacking as before since they only managed to score 28 goals which are far less than at this point last season. What is more worrying are the 21 goals conceded which is in direct correlation with the fact that they lost their best defender this offseason when Stefan de Vrij left on a free transfer to Inter. That left their defence pretty depleted especially in the centre-back department which is evident by the number of goals conceded.
Ciro Immobile still the main man
Lazio’s best goalscorer was Ciro Immobile just like last season. So far in 18 appearances, he tallied 10 goals which are a decent effort considering the fact that Lazio is missing their best assist man in Felipe Anderson. Now what is even more surprising is the fact that their second best scorer is Acerbi a centre-back who was supposed to replace de Vrij, a job he didn’t do quite well. Correa and Parolo added also 3 goals apiece but the rest of that list is pretty bad.
You might wonder where Milinkovic – Savic ranks in this department and he is quite low with only two goals. Indeed the Serbian has been quite poor this season which resulted in many teams not being that much interested in him anymore. Perhaps Lazio should have cashed in last season, but he is still a young and talented player and if Lazio picks up their level of football in the second part of the season he too will probably see his level improve.
It has to be said, judging by the results this season, that this team has regressed in all parts of the game since last season. Attacking has suffered, the midfield has been okay but not great, the defence has been much worse than last years. The only real bright spot is the goalkeeper Strakosha who is having an incredible campaign so far and without him, they would have conceded much more goals than they have.
Currently, as I pointed out before they are sitting in the 4th place which was their goal going into their season but only 1 point ahead of a better Milan squad and it’s only a matter of time when they overtake this Lazio team. Simone Inzaghi is a good coach but he is no miracle worker and as this team overslept the transfer period it’s hard to see how they are going to keep that 4th place in the second half of the season. The players need to step up and even if they do this team has too many issues to stay in front of a really good Milan squad who played incredibly bad in the first half of the season.