Over the course of the week and leading up to the Derby D’Italia, Inter Worldwide will bring you a series of articles outlining our direct rivals for the final UEFA Champions League places. In this edition, Bruno analyses the kings of inconsistency over the last couple of campaigns, Lazio.
When we speak about the relative strength of the Serie A, one word comes up this season, inconsistency. The lack of application from big sides such as Inter, Milan, Roma & Lazio to convert and take chances have left them all in a dogfight for the final UCL spot.
After last seasons heartbreak at the hands of yours truly, Lazio will be desperate to qualify for the Champions league for the first time in 11 years. However, with a run of poor results recently, the Europa league is looking the likely destination.
How did they get here?
Lazio commenced the season with 4 friendly club matches against, Trestina, SPAL, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund. From those 4 matched they won their first two, and lost the second two. So the outlook for the season was pretty inconclusive from the outset. Lazio were also qualified for the Europa league, following the disappointment from the previous season of not qualifying for the Champions League. Out of all the contenders Lazio’s first run of fixtures were extremely hard.
Their first 2 matches of the season were against 2nd placed Napoli and 1st place Juventus. Following these two fixtures Lazio were sitting with 0 points from 2 matches. Lazio then went on to win their following 4 Serie A matches.
Lazio is a team which has struggled with consistency most of the season. They would gain momentum then drop points in consecutive weeks. Lazio were eliminated from the Europa League following successive defeats to Sevilla. Most recently Lazio eliminated AC Milan to progress to the final of the Coppa Italia.
Lazio most recently recorded a 2-1 victory of Sampdoria. An important and invaluable victory in their search for a second consecutive European qualification.
Where are they now?
Lazio had the target of Champions league football this season and are currently 3 points behind 4th placed Roma. With only 4 matches remaining for Lazio, each match is as important as the previous.
Their final 4 matches consist of two extremely important fixtures. Next up they face 5th place *currently with a game in hand Atalanta. A match where it is vital for both teams to secure a victory to boost their chances of a European berth in next seasons competition. They then travel to face 11th Cagliari which should not be much of a test in the scheme of things. In another decisive matchup Lazio then host the lowly placed Bologna.
Don’t let their position on the table be any influence on the winner, as Bologna have currently gained enormous momentum heading into the conclusion of the season. Only having lost 1 of their last 8 fixtures (6W, 1D, 1L) they will be no walk in the park. Lazio’s final fixture of the season is against 6th placed Torino who sit only 1 point above Lazio. Much like the conclusion of last season it is extremely likely that Lazio’s European fate will be decided in the concluding fixture.
Unlike last season Lazio have a second chance of entering any form of European competition. They will face Atalanta between the Cagliari and Bologna match in the Coppa Italia final. The winner of this completion gets automatic entry into the Europa League. With Atalanta already in a European qualification position, there is the potential chance of Lazio getting into Europe.
Record: W 15, D 7, L 11
League Position: 8th place
Distance behind Inter: Currently 7 points behind Inter, with Inter holding the tiebreaker for away goals scored.
Remaining fixtures: Atalanta (H), Cagliari (A), Bologna (H), Torino (A).
Predicted points and league standing:
This would be an extremely hard one to predict with 5 teams within 3 points of each other. I predict 7 points, finishing on 62, but looking at the rest of the league, Lazio will struggle to finish above the 7th/8th place spots. Europa League looks likely.