The Lazio team of 2020 has captured the Serie A fans’ attention with their incredible playing style along with strong results which has seen them become serious title contenders. In this article, I take a look at the tenure of Simone Inzaghi and how he has transformed the club on their way to winning titles and become contenders for the league. Under Simone Inzaghi they’ve spent a total of 133 million pounds, making a profit of 157 million pounds and lifting three major trophies in four years with an unexpected challenge in the Serie A race. Inzaghi’s tactics which primarily revolve around the 3-5-2 formation have been vital to Lazio’s resurgence.
Appointment of caretaker Simone Inzaghi
On the 4th of April 2016, Stefano Piolo was sacked after a poor league run leaving Lazio outside of the European spots with the line being drawn after losing the Derby della Capitale 4-1. After a turbulent period post the Coppa Italia win in 2013, the club was looking to rebuild again and reach the Champions League after an absence for a couple of years. Simone Inzaghi never having coached in the Serie A was appointed as a caretaker manager moving up the ranks from the backroom. He had been coaching the Allievi and the Primavera sides and with the latter, he won 2 primavera coppa italia titles as well as a Supercoppa title. Largely associated as the smaller brother of Filippo Inzaghi and one of the players in Sven-Göran Eriksson’s generational team winning Serie A in 1999/2000, Simone had finished top scorer in the 99/00 season and was with the club for 17 years. Naturally, the 39-year old’s appointment was well received by the Lazio fans. With what would be his first match in charge, the Biancocelesti would beat Palmero 3-0 in an away league match.
Simone Inzaghi’s first year as Lazio coach
However Simone was unable to turn the team’s fortunes around in the 2015/16 season and what was inevitable happened with the Biancocelesti being left out of Europe, finishing at a lowly 8th place. As the season ended, the club would go on confirming the appointment of the former Marseille manager, Marcelo Bielsa. However, things would not go as planned as Bielsa would surprisingly leave the club after two days of being in charge. Therefore, Simone Inzaghi again was called upon to guide the club into the 2016/17 season.
Arrival of several new players as well as early success
In the 2016/17 transfer window, the club under Simone Inzaghi and his coaching staff would bring in several important players like BVB flop Ciro Immobile, Spanish midfielder Luis Alberto and Brazilian Luiz Felipe with Thomas Strakhosa returning to the club after a loan. They’d also clean out the club with 16 players either sold, loaned, let go for free, and in World Cup winner Miroslav Klose’s case retired. The squad was still unbalanced and with a budget far less than the likes of Juventus and Inter, hopes were not high going into the season.
The astute bargain signings worked amazingly well as Lazio had a strong start to the season competing at the top of the Serie A. In the 2015/16 season, the defence was pretty functional and solid but the attack was where they struggled. They only averaged a measly 4 shots per game but held up pretty well when it comes to defending with only 11 shots conceded per game. With changes to the attacking line, Simone would lower the long-range efforts but tweaked the style to make it more direct especially with Keita and Anderson averaging up 6 dribbles per game. The 2016/17 side would average an increase of 1.7 shots from 3.9 to 5.6, adding 10 goals to their expected goals. With 39 goals scored by Keita and Immobile, the club would finish at a 5th place, losing the CL spot on a narrow 2 point difference. The 5th place finish would be above Inter and Milan. They’d enjoy a great cup run in Coppa Italia, beating their derby rivals Roma but ending up losing the final to Juventus on home soil.
More improvements to the squad with the 3-5-2 formation
With the first full season of Simone Inzaghi completed, the club would enjoy a stable fifth finish but Simone and the backroom staff wanted progression. With the club letting go of Lucas Biglia, Wesley Hoedt, and Keita Balde, they’d earn a sum of 60 million pounds. The club would bring in players like Lucas Leiva, Marusic and Caicedo for less than 20 million pounds, making a profit of 40 million pounds. Repositioning Luis Alberto as the playmaker following the sale of Keita would prove to be a masterstroke.
Lazio would start the season with a trophy as they beat Juventus after a stoppage-time goal at Stadio Olimpico. Immobile would also prove himself consistent during the season scoring a total amount of 29 goals and Lazio would end up as the team who score the most number of goals in Serie A with 89. With a 72 points tally being the highest amount of points since their championship in 2000, Lazio would finish 5th again, losing the CL spot to H2H. They’d lose the Coppa Italia semi-final on penalties vs Milan and make it to the quarter-finals in Europa League.
Inconsistent in the league, lifting the cup
After seeing De Vrij and Felipe Anderson leave to Inter and West Ham respectively, Lazio would replace them with the signings of Francesco Acerbi and Joaquin Correa. But yet again, Lazio were inconsistent especially in the last few months in the league which saw them lose out on Champions League for the next season.
However, the club started showing glimpses of the future under Simone with the thrashing of their rivals Roma 3-0 and winning their first Coppa Italia title since 2013 after beating Inter on penalties.
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Serie A contenders, second Supercoppa title
The Coppa Italia final proved to be a turning point as this win gave the much-needed confidence to both the manager and the squad that they can compete at the highest level.
Having enjoyed a good start in the league, Lazio would enjoy wins over Inter Milan, Juventus, and AC Milan. They would go on putting little to no focus on the Europa League to focus on the goal of earning CL football after more than a decade’s absence from it. The club would enjoy even more silverware being crowned for the second time Supercoppa Italiana champions in three years after beating Juventus 3-1 in Riyadh after a top-notch performance.
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Serie A becoming a tougher league, they’d see their rivals dropping points and even topping the league in January. Having only lost 2 matches with 60 goals scored and a point behind Juventus, the club is certainly chasing for a Scudetto after not having won it since 2000. Being close to already achieving CL football and only having the league to focus on, the club has all it’s focus on it. The future of Lazio surely looks bright for SS Lazio under Simone Inzaghi.