Lazio Season Preview: Champions League the aim for the Biancoceleste
Getty Images/Paco Serinelli

S.S. Lazio ended the Serie A season with an 8th place finish. At the mid-point of the season, Lazio saw themselves in fourth place, being in contention for Champions League, however, near the end of the season, Lazio fell out of contention for Champions League or Europa League. The Biancoceleste did salvage their season by winning the Coppa Italia. With 2018-2019 being near full disappointment, can the club change this outcome and finally make it back to the Champions League? 

Transfer Business Overview

Sporting Director Igli Tare has been active in the summer transfer market by acquiring new players. Lazio acquired wing-backs Manuel Lazzari, Jony Rodriguez, and Bobby Adekayne while also bringing in centre-back Denis Vavro. Tare has been searching for players who have characteristics that will fit Simone Inzaghi’s style of play. Lazio’s main acquisitions are Spal’s Lazzari and Danish League player Denis Vavro. Lazzari will provide Inzaghi with a winger that suits his formation that will play high, join the attack and cross the ball in the box. While Vavro is young and has been regarded with a lot of upsides. The defender has the ability to move the ball upfield quickly and make long passes to the midfielders which could help on the counter-attack. 

The club has decided to hold midfielders Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto, both who were rumoured to be leaving the club. With both players returning this coming season, this is pleasant news for Simone Inzaghi as both players will play important roles and are vital.

While the club has done a decent job in the transfer market, they have yet to acquire another striker or left-back. These are two positions that are of concern and should be addressed. Ciro Immobile scored 15 goals while Felipe Caicedo was behind with 8 goals. This is an area of concern as that will not be enough to help the club win games. In the left-back position, Stefan Radu, is not getting younger and will need a viable replacement. Bartolomeu Jacinto Quissanga was used last year and was decent, the club will still want to look to the transfer market to upgrade this position.

Manager

Simone Inzaghi will be returning for his fourth season as a coach with the club. After the 2018-2019 season, Lazio was uncertain if Simone Inzaghi was to return as coach for the upcoming season. With Juventus and AC Milan deciding to go separate ways with their coaches, both teams became interested in the services of Inzaghi.

During Inzaghi’s time with Lazio and the squad that he’s inherited, the results have been impressive as he’s won a Supercoppa Italiana and a Coppa Italia this past season. After the news was released about Juventus and Milan’s interest in Inzaghi, Claudio Lotito had countless meetings with his coach about his future with the club. The meetings which took place involved Inzaghi, Tare and Lotito. Inzaghi wanted reassurance from the president that the club would acquire players that would allow the manager to compete.

After many meetings, Inzaghi agreed to stay. Claudio Lotito told Radio Rai, “We have reached an agreement, there are only a few details missing but its all done” … “I’ve never been worried, I know Inzaghi very well and I know we have an excellent relationship.”

With a new contract and president Claudio Lotito giving his word, Inzaghi will hope to go into the season with the right players that will fit his 3-5-2 formation. So far, Lazio has done a decent job acquiring players such as Lazzari and Vavro who both have the right characteristics and provide the coach with options. With the addition of new players and current players such as Luis Alberto, Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic Savic returning, the coach will have a squad that will allow him to have a competitive squad.

Player to Watch for

Lazio will be counting on Ciro Immobile this season as he led the team in goals last season. Since arriving at Lazio, the forward has progressed every season and so the same is expected this upcoming season. While his goal total dropped last season, he was able to find his teammates on many occasions. The striker has been relied on the past three seasons, being the leading goal scorer each season.

If Lazio is going to have any chance of making top four this season, he will need to regain his form from the previous two seasons when he scored 29 and 23 goals. Immobile was unlucky with injuries and hit the post nine times last year which was the most in the league. However, in preseason Immobile has looked good and will want to carry that form into the start of the season. He’s the main striker for the team and will be relied on in this upcoming season.

One for The Future

Last season Lazio acquired Joaquin Correa from Sevilla on a transfer deal worth €15 million. This was one of the best deals the club has made as Correa had a breakout season for the club with nine goals in all competitions. As the season progressed so did the Argentine’s game as his skill set became evident most games.

Correa is very explosive as his speed allows him to beat his opponent one on one. The forward is very patient when holding the ball as he will look to make the right pass. His dribbling and size make it hard for defenders to get the ball.  He’s also versatile as he’s able to play the wing but can also play a false nine or an attacking threat point. A perfect replacement for Felipe Anderson that has been great for Lazio. Going into this season, expect Correa to score more than last year as he will be relied on with his creativity to score and set up goals.

Predicted Finish

After a strong 2017-2018 season for Lazio, the following season was a disappointment. The club finished 8th place, early exit from the Europa League but did manage to win the Coppa Italia. Lazio will look to finally advance to the Champions League which hasn’t been achieved since 2014-2015.

Claudio Lotito told Radio Rai, “Our target is to qualify for the Champions League. We have some solid basis. Lazio is a big family.”

This season Lazio will look to have a better season as they have been able to add players which fit Inzaghi’s formation and will help him. While Lazio will not be competing for the first three spots, they will be able to play for the last spot into Champions league. Lazio will be competing with teams such as Atalanta and AC Milan, where both teams have made good moves to make their teams competitive going into this year. Expect the club to finish in between fourth place to sixth place.

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