This tactical analysis will look at how the game between Lazio and Juventus panned out and what sort of tactics both sides used in order to gain dominance on the pitch. In Sunday’s encounter from Serie A Round 7, the Biancocelesti made Juventus pay the price for their inability to consolidate an early lead.
Without boasting the services of Ciro Immobile, Lazio managed to win a point against Juventus despite a bad start. Cristiano Ronaldo gave the away side the lead in the early stages of the game but substitute Felipe Caicedo broke Juventus’ hearts right at the death.
This means that the Biancocelesti are now in ninth place in the league standings while Andrea Pirlo’s side slip to fight place in the table.
Starting Lineups and Formations
Lazio went for a 3-5-2 double pivot formation with Joaquin Correa and Vedat Muriqi leading the attack, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto settling in as the two most offensive midfielders for the Aquile.
In order to provide more protection to the backline, Danilo Cataldi was positioned at the base of the pivot. Down the flanks, Mohamed Fares and Adam Marusic were deployed as attacking wing-backs.
For Juventus, Pirlo went for the classical 4-4-2 formation with Cristiano Ronaldo partnering up with Alvaro Morata up front. Surprisingly, Gianluca Frabotta was deployed as a winger down the left flank with Dejan Kulusevski operating in his preferred right-wing role.
For this tactical analysis, we are going to discuss the tactics involved by Lazio and Juventus in a different manner. Rather than just looking at the video footage and deconstructing both goals, we’re going to look at the touch maps, heat maps, and passing rates of all players involved since that would give us a good idea of how the two managers’ formations had an impact on the overall game play.
The Passing Ranks
The home side had a total of 852 actions with 693 being successful. The Aquile made a total of 584 passes.
For the home side, Francesco Acerbi was the busiest player, making 85 passes and boasting an accuracy of 91%.
Luis Alberto and Luiz Felipe made 63 and 58 passes respectively but when it comes to real influence, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was the most influential player on the pitch. The Serb made 58 passes, had three key passes and made 21 challenges.
If you look at this heat map, it is clear that the Serb was given the license to roam freely higher up the pitch. Due to his ability to pressure the opposition and add more penetration in the attacking phase, Milinkovic-Savic was able to make life torrid for the likes of Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur.
There were two key passes made by the dynamic midfielder that could have easily resulted in goals. Had the Lazio forwards been more clinical and showed a bit more awareness, Milinkovic-Savic could have ended the game with two assists to his name.
His aerial ability on both ends of the pitch was something that Lazio made full use of, getting more knockdowns and even making it hard for the likes of Leonardo Bonnuci and Merih Demiral to show their dominance.
Despite playing further up the pitch, the Serbian international was still able to help out the defense whenever needed. This was a truly lung-bursting performance from a midfielder who is warranted a big move in his career.
You would expect the Bianconeri to win all significant battles on the pitch. However, even the most basic statistic such as successful actions seems to indicate that Pirlo’s men were not on top of their game. They had only 631 successful actions the entire game and their best passer proved to be Danilo with 80 passes. However, the fact that Leonardo Bonucci and Merih Demiral ended up putting together more passes than the likes of Adrien Rabiot and Dejan Kulusevski goes on to show how much difficult things were for the away side.
Just like Milikovic-Savic, it was Rodrigo Bentancur who was the engine of Juventus’ midfield, tracking back to help out in defense while also linking up with the likes of Ronaldo and Morata further up the pitch.
If you look at this heat map, Bentancur was very much involved on the left side of midfield where he was tasked with linking up with the young Frabotta and offering more space to Ronaldo to run at the Lazio defense.
The Uruguayan was heavily involved in almost every single transition and kept looking for options on both channels. However, he was having a hard time finding that killer pass because of the strong zonal marking done by the Lazio midfield.
Moreover, it did not really help the midfielder that his teammates were not looking to exploit meaningful spaces and did not show enough off the ball movement either.
Deconstructing the Goals
Cristiano Ronaldo Finds the Back of the Net
While he was forced to sit out a few games after being diagnosed with the coronavirus, the Portugal international continues proving his credentials as a serial goal scorer. This time, the legendary forward needed only 15 minutes to make an impact and it was once again his movement that helped him score the goal.
Here you see the Portuguese ace already drifting away from the Lazio defense before the move even happened. Juan Cuadrado makes a quick run down the channel while Dejan Kulusevski passes the ball towards Bentancur.
As you can see, there are four Lazio defenders who are completely focused on what’s happening down the left side rather than seeing that both Bentancur and Rabiot are completely unmarked.
Once again, the Lazio defense fails to deal with the situation as Cuadrado is given acres of space to do whatever he wants to do while Ronaldo stays in an offside position. But as soon as the attack opens up, Ronaldo recalibrates and gets back in an onside position.
While the Lazio defense does manage to get back to mark the veteran forward who was never going to miss the target once Cuadrado drilled the ball in.
Clearly, this goal could have been avoided had the Lazio defense shown more spatial awareness. While you have to agree that Ronaldo is very clever when it comes to being at the right place at the right time, the Lazio defense’s focus on the initial build up was what gave Juventus a lot of room to string together a brilliant move that resulted in the first goal of the game.
Caicedo Strikes to the Death
The Lazio goal was a great example of how not to defend when protecting a one-goal lead with mere seconds left on the clock.
Now that he has managed to beat two Juventus defenders, Correa is given acres of space by Merih Demiral who rather than trying to close him down, decides to stand his ground with his hands behind his back.
Seeing that Demiral is in trouble, Rabiot joins in, only to leave Caicedo free. Weston McKennie is very late to react and once the substitute receives the pass, he holds off Bonucci before turning and shooting the ball away from the outstretched arms of Wojciech Szczesny who is clearly not happy with how late the defense acted to snuff out the attack.
The game with Juventus wasn’t a very cagey affair in all honesty and if you go through our tactical analysis again, you’d notice that while Lazio did have a lot of opportunities, they were unable to make full use of them.
Simone Inzaghi would be happy with the result but we’re certain that he would have been happier if he was able to call upon the services of Ciro Immobile who would have been far more clinical than Vedat Muriqi.
Andrea Pirlo, on the other hand, would be sweating over the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese hit-man was forced off following an ankle injury. Thankfully, Ronaldo might be in time for his team’s next game due to the international break. Nonetheless, Pirlo really needs to up his game and also needs to start working on his tactics once again because clearly, the current tactics are not up to the mark.
Moreover, the team does tend to have issues when it comes to using the width and perhaps it is time for Paulo Dybala to be given more chances to start games.