Saturday August 31 2019
Lazio v Roma: Tactical Preview

Simone Inzaghi and Paulo Fonseca have differing approaches to football and could make for a fascinating clash at the Olimpico, writes Steven Moore.

From the Capital of Italy, the Biancocelesti will take on the Giallorossi in Week 2 of the 2019-20 Serie A season. This will be the 151st time that they will meet at the Stadio Olimpico since the inauguration of the Italian top-flight in 1929. While Simone Inzaghi’s side started off their campaign with flying colours, crushing Sampdoria 3-0 at Marassi, Paulo Fonseca’s team dropped a lead three times for their six-goal thriller with Genoa.

Neither boss will change their minds about implementing their favoured tactical approach. From an overview, the similarity between both their tactics is the application of an active and technical trequartista who plays just behind a sole centre-forward. This player is the link between the midfield and attack, allowing for more chance generation in the build-up play.

However, apart from this, each have their own creative style of football that differentiates themselves. Inzaghi lines up his side in a 3-5-1-1 formation, using width and a countering style of football to their advantage, while the Portuguese deploys a 4-2-3-1 formation, aiming to utilise a high line to press their opposition and prevent them from playing out of the back comfortably.

Diving deeper into the Eagles style of play, they have two different appearances that change when they are on the attack and when they are defending their goal. The two players on the flank are the main reason for this, as they press or drop to make it seem as if the team play a front four or a back five, depending on the situation. This job is completed by veteran Senad Lulic and new signing Manuel Lazzari, who seems to have already had a favourable influence on the team.

In recent times, the left side of the pitch is where the club have found the most success, but with Lazzari's arrival, they have become fond of attacking from both the left and right. In addition, Lazio’s midfield trio – who actually play in a diamond shape with the addition of second striker Joaquin Correa when defending – have an immense role to play in making Inzaghi’s system come to life.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto are key to unlocking the opposition and starting an attack from their own half, while Lucas Leiva or Marco Parolo protect their goal by winning the ball back and feeding the surrounding players with quick passes to break forward. When not in possession, they play intelligently, sitting back and waiting for an opportunity to make an interception or put in a challenge.

Ciro Immobile usually sits around the halfway line, waiting for this to happen before making a run into open space beyond the opposition’s defenders. This helps the team escape pressure and hopefully covert an opportunity to take the lead.

Taking a closer look into Roma, it is something fresh and energizing compared to previous years. An extremely attack-minded approach, the system relies heavily on cohesion amongst the members in the starting XI – as all can be seen involved in the play when transitioning forward – and players who are not afraid to take risks. The likes of Cengiz Under, Justin Kluivert, and NicolòZaniolo supporting Edin Dzeko could not be anything but the perfect fit.

The main goal is to maintain possession in their opposition’s half, shifting them from left to right to break them down. This really does allow the offensive department to thrive, as they are given more freedom to move towards goal in various patterns; there is not one outlet that is abused.

However, there is one massive downside to this structure that makes the team extremely vulnerable. On the counter, clubs will take advantage of the lack of defensive awareness, as seen in Week 1 when they drew 3-3 with Genoa. Pace and long balls caught them off-guard, especially with their full-backs being too far up the pitch, lost in the attacking play.

For this reason, Lazio will definitely feel the more confident of the two sides heading into this encounter.

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