Being a Lazio fan must be a strange feeling. Simone Inzaghi’s men lost against the already relegated Chievo on Saturday and lost precious points in the battle for top four in what truly was a disastrous display from Le Aquile. Fast forward a few days and we’re now talking about the same side reaching the Coppa Italia Final after conquering Milan at San Siro thanks to Joaquin Correa’s second half goal.
Inconsistency has been Lazio’s biggest enemy throughout the campaign, but last night’s victory at La Scala del Calcio must feel good for multiple reasons. The Biancocelesti got their revenge for the Serie A defeat that they suffered just a few weeks earlier on the same pitch and by doing so reached their third Coppa Italia Final in the last five years.
The manner of the win should also satisfy the tifosi of the capital outfit, as Lazio completely deserved their victory and displayed unity, character and solidity throughout the majority of the 90 minutes. In fact, despite the score being only 1-0, the visitors could’ve easily scored more, as they had a total of 13 shots, 10 of which on target. This is more than double Milan’s total tally of only six shots and showcases how dangerous Lazio were on the break, as Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa were causing havoc in the Rossoneri defence almost every time they had the ball at their feet.
It’s also worth noting that Lazio showed class not only during, but also after the game, as considering the circumstances and the Francesco Acerbi shirt incident from the previous clash, some players were probably tempted to provoke the opponents after the final whistle. Such behaviour would’ve increased the unnecessary negativity that a group of ultras churned out before, during and even after the game, so credit should be given to the players for not damaging their own success.
However, in order for Lazio to make sure that last night’s victory against Milan matter, the Biancocelesti need to win the trophy. The club reached three Coppa Italia Finals in the last five years, but lost to Juventus in the previous two. Now with the Bianconeri eliminated from the competition and Le Aquile awaiting the winner of the other semi-final between Fiorentina and Atalanta, the chances of Lazio winning seem far better than the last three occasions.
Both La Viola and the Orobici should not be underestimated in the upcoming Final, but neither of them are Juventus. Therefore, Lazio should respect the quality of the opposition, regardless of who it will be, but after eliminating both Milan giants, Simone Inzaghi and co. should fancy their chances against Atalanta or Fiorentina.
With Milan, Roma, Torino and Atalanta all involved in the top four race and Lazio currently drifting four points behind, with just four games left, reaching Champions League qualification seems unlikely for the Biancocelesti. The team should not give up by any means, because considering the inconsistency of the rest of the top four rivals, Lazio might still reach this target, but winning the Coppa Italia looks much more achievable at this point and might prove to be just as important.
Adding more silverware after the 2017 Supercoppa triumph over Juventus and the victory in the 2013 Coppa Italia Final against arch rivals Roma would not only help the team build some much needed self-belief, but would also improve Lazio’s image worldwide(and with those ultras, they really need it). More importantly, losing the Final and missing on a Champions League place would probably mean the end of Inzaghi’s era at the helm of the club.
While some consider Inzaghi’s dismissal necessary for Lazio to make the next step and play on a par with the big boys, nobody can deny that the contribution of the former striker to the club’s recent success. However, uncertainty is the last thing that Lazio need at the moment and winning the Coppa Italia would not only avoid that, but would make sure that all that effort counts.