Twenty years after Lazio last wore the Scudetto, it looked as though they might do once again. But the restart has seen them falter – so what’s gone wrong at Lazio?
Simone Inzaghi’s side went into the temporary break in football looking as good as they have since that 1999-2000 season. In fact, Lazio had won all but two of their league games leading up to their last before the break – a 2-0 win at home to Bologna.
A comfortable routine win with no real surprises and that win took Lazio to the top of the Serie A table for the first time in a decade.
After an 8th-place finish last season, few expected anything more from the Biancocelesti. But they’ve been right alongside Juventus throughout the season, only falling behind Maurizio Sarri’s team in recent weeks – having lost three of five since the restart, Juve now have a seven-point gap over Lazio.
With the break in football, Inzaghi can’t blame his players’ drop in form on fatigue, so what is it? Well, the simple fact is that Lazio are in above their heads. This Roman side has never been in a position where they could win the Serie A title, and that inexperience has proved costly.
What’s more is that, whilst Lazio have a big squad, they don’t necessarily have quality throughout. In their 3-0 defeat at home to Milan earlier in the month, they were without the likes of Ciro Immobile, Felipe Caicedo, Luiz Felipe, and Senad Lulic – their absences highlighted a distinct lack of quality in the reserves.
So now it looks like Lazio will have to settle for 2nd-place, but the fact that we’re saying that with disappointment shows just how much they’ve progressed in such a short time, and how good a job Inzaghi has done this season.
They’re the second-highest scorers in the league with 67, and they’ve got the joint second-best defense in the league too. The building blocks are definitely there for Lazio to become regular challengers for the Serie A title, they just need some more winners in their team.
Lazio need some more Serie A experience in their side if they’re to mount a sustained challenge next season. As a player, Inzaghi was part of the Lazio side that won the title in 2000, but he will recognize that his side needs a major clear-out in the summer.
He needs to follow the “Manchester City example.” One of the best teams in Europe, and why? Because they literally have two squads. Plenty of Premier League managers have come out in the past and said how they think Manchester City’s reserve team would be a mid-table Premier League team.
That’s the kind of depth you need to win a domestic title. Juve this year are just studded with world-class players, and depth too. Lazio have good players, a good manager, but they just lack that depth and that cutting edge to mount a realistic push for the title.
All eyes will once again be on Lazio next season, and after the heartbreak of this campaign, expect Inzaghi and co. to be right up for the challenge.