Ahead of Lazio’s Last 16 tie with Dynamo Kiev, Simone Inzaghi has somewhat of a dilemma facing him.
Having lost their last two matches, does the tactician rest his star players, or hand them a chance of redemption?
Words: Greg Murray
The former striker will be wary of the former option, having benched the likes of Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto in the first leg against Steaua Bucharest, and suffered a 1-0 defeat as a result. Approaching the business end of Serie A, the last thing the coach will want is the added pressure of a rescue mission in Ukraine.
The Biancocelesti have surpassed expectations this season, and were unlucky to have lost in the aforementioned defeats to Milan and Juventus. However, it was in their loss to Bucharest that Inzaghi’s side’s greatest flaw became clear: they are simply too reliant on Immobile.
This is the crux of the coach’s decision going into Thursday’s match. Lazio are well catered for in defence, even in the absence of the injured Martin Caceres the likes of Felipe and Patric should be more than capable of dealing with Dynamo’s attacking threat. Likewise in midfield, other than the indomitable and seemingly tireless Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, all the players have a suitable understudy, who can be drafted in with limited disruption.
Immobile, on the other hand, simply has no replacement, as was evident when Inzaghi experimented with Felipe Caicedo and Nani against Bucharest. Not only do Lazio miss Immobile’s goals in his absence, but players such as Alberto seem to lose their effectiveness. The coach’s tactical set-up is designed to facilitate the Italian international’s goal-scoring, and, without him, looks like a car with no wheels: all the power but no output.
As a result, even if we are to see rotation, it is unlikely to be their star forward that makes way. Instead, the former jewel in the Lazio crown, Felipe Anderson, may get a start, either at wing-back or in his preferred role behind the striker.
Fortunately for Inzaghi, his side have a relatively easy run in the league coming up. Their weekend opponents are fifteenth placed Cagliari, with Bologna, Benevento and Udinese following the return leg before the Derby della Capitale. As a result, the tactician may justifiably decide to play his strongest XI against Dynamo, and use the upcoming Serie A fixtures as a chance to rotate.
If the Mister does indeed decide to prioritise the Europa League, there is little doubt that his squad should be more than capable of beating Dynamo Kiev. Who knows, perhaps the Aquile could even go on to win the competition, on the twentieth anniversary of the last time they reached a European final…
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