Friday November 8 2019
The Roman Syndrome

Roma and Lazio’s Europa League defeats show that both clubs suffer from the same basic problem, writes Vilizar Yakimov.

Another week, another Europa League fiasco for the Serie A sides. The two almost identical defeats that Roma and Lazio suffered put the qualification of the two Capital clubs at serious risk with two games left.

It wouldn’t be harsh to say that Simone Inzaghi’s men need a miracle at this point, as they are now six points off second-placed Cluj, while Celtic’s triumph at the Olimpico puts Neil Lennon’s men out of reach. Odds in the USA - and everywhere else - are strongly against Lazio now.

While Inzaghi had some injury concerns and а number of his players were struggling with fitness issues, it’s really hard to find an excuse for the way Lazio keep losing games after taking the lead. Even the abysmal decision of the referee not to award a penalty for a clear handball after Ciro Immobile’s shot is not enough to justify the Biancocelesti’s lapses in concentration and inability to close out games.

Lazio have now lost three of their four Europa League games by 2-1 after taking an early lead and the fact that Inzaghi is unable to improve even slightly in that aspect is truly astonishing.

However, what’s even more puzzling is how the 43-year-old tactician keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again, and yet expects a different result.

Just like in the first game at Celtic Park, Inzaghi opted to start Denis Vavro at the heart of his defence, moving Francesco Acerbi in the more uncomfortable role for him on the left of Lazio’s back three. The presence of Jony at left wingback, who was once again preferred over Senad Lulic, deprived Acerbi of any notable protection and the experienced centre-back struggled throughout both games.

Felipe Caicedo was another player who started on both occasions, but just like in the first game, he was one of the worst players on the pitch last night. The Ecuadorian forward completed only seven (!) passes with an accuracy of 58% for 90 minutes, proving once again that he cannot be considered a worthy partner to Immobile, especially in Europe.

It should be noted that Joaquin Correa’s injury left Lazio without many options upfront, but keeping Luis Alberto on the bench once again was another huge mistake by Inzaghi. What’s more worrying than the Coach’s choices in the starting XI, was the overall lack of concentration and determination in many of the Lazio players.

Celtic’s equaliser was the perfect example for that, as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s poor touch gave the ball away in a dangerous area, while Acerbi inexplicably allowed the ball to go under his foot, which led to James Forrest’s equalizer. However, Lazio’s carelessness reached its peak in the 95th minute when Valon Berisha’s gift virtually deprived his side of any realistic chance of qualification.

In a very similar manner, although away from home, Roma conceded their first Europa League defeat of the season, as the Giallorossi conceded another 95th-minute strike and eventually suffered a 2-1 defeat against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Despite missing almost half their squad, Paulo Fonseca’s men fought bravely and outplayed the Germans in the second half, but inevitable fatigue creeped in and cost them dearly.

However, a number of Roma players deserve to be complimented for their approach and dedication, despite the extreme situation. The Giallorossi’s team spirit and work ethic that earned them a victory against Napoli during the weekend almost did the same at the Borussia Park last night.

Unfortunately for Roma, Fonseca finally paid the price for fielding the same players week in week out, as a number of his men ran out of steam towards the end of the game. Javier Pastore and Nicolò Zaniolo were undoubtedly two of the best performers last night, but Fonseca was forced to take them out, as they just were visibly struggling after the 70th minute.

Gianluca Mancini, who has been a key figure for Roma during the injury crisis, had a really poor game last night and this was a clear indication that the Giallorossi desperately need to recover at least one more midfielder in order to avoid a negative streak of results.

While goalkeeper heroics and controversial refereeing were part of both Roma’s and Lazio’s games, their common problem is the concentration and organization in the dying minutes of their games.

The Chris Smalling penalty that was awarded for Borussia Monchengladbach, after the ball hit the Manchester United loanee’s face at the Olimpico, was an unlucky incident, but just like Marcus Thuram’s winner last night, came in the last minute of the game.

On the other hand, Berisha’s gift means that Lazio have also conceded at the end for a second game in a row, while this has been happening to both Capital clubs time and time again throughout the years.

Is this a fitness issue, one of concentration, or perhaps the attitude Italian sides have of trying to control a game when they ought to go for the jugular? Inter fumbled a 2-0 lead at Borussia Dortmund and wasted the advantage to lose in Barcelona, so the problem must be identified before it spreads and destroys Serie A’s remaining European credentials.

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Have your say...
Ayone saying that Lazio favour a top four spot to achieve CL over EL lacks any knowledge. Losing in EL means less coefficient points and in the long run only 2-3 CL spots which would make it close to impossible for the likes of Roma, Lazio, Milan and Fiorentina to play CL football.
on the 9th November, 2019 at 4:22pm
Lazio and Roma both desperately need modern 50.001 seater stadiums they can fill without running tracks. That would give them an intense atmosphere and an extra 40-50 mill per season to buy better players, so they can progress from the group stages in Europe. 
on the 9th November, 2019 at 4:16pm
on the 9th November, 2019 at 1:21pm
Does no one here realize that Lazio would favor a top 4 finish rather than advancing to the first Europa league knockout round? And how the last 2 seasons Lazio has been stretched so thin between 3 competitions that they have lost steam in spring in the Serie A campaign? People on here are asking why Caicedo and Vavro are playing and why Leiva is taken off and why Alberto is left on the bench and the answer is simply because they don't care about Europa and want to focus on a top-4 finish
on the 9th November, 2019 at 12:11pm
Simple problem. Serie A teams run when it is necessary. Teams in England, Spain, Germany run ALL THE TIME. Pace causes Italian teams problems, problems lead to errors, errors leads to goals.
on the 9th November, 2019 at 8:07am
Until Italian clubs start performing in Europe, the league will never be taken seriously

Why the rested players in the EL? Perhaps the Italian FA should allocate a percentage of the domestic TV rights to teams in the EL, paying them more per point earned or similar? That way they might actually take it more seriously as far as the starting 11 goes

But the quality just isn't there overall; slow football, giving the ball away, poor finishing/defending

Roma were unfortunate, Lazio a disgrace.
on the 8th November, 2019 at 10:00pm
I feel that a lot of clubs from Italy simply don't have the squad depth to be able to compete on both fronts. If/When the 5 subs rule comes in, I think we will see some improvement in Europe but not enough to make Italy a powerhouse in UEL/UCL. Juventus are the only team that can do this. Even the likes of Inter don't have decent squad depth past their first XI, but their tactics and drive make them above everyone else - at the moment.
on the 8th November, 2019 at 7:08pm
losing to Celtic twice is really embarrassing. I can't believe how bad Serie A teams are. I didn't think it could get any worse.
on the 8th November, 2019 at 6:05pm
Gladbach clearly has horseshoes straight up their you know what. If VAR was implemented then the outcome of both games would have been different. Kudos to Roma for playing with a depleted squad. Get the injuries out of the way now because we are going to need a full squad after the winter break.
on the 8th November, 2019 at 2:48pm
Forever Losers
on the 8th November, 2019 at 2:40pm
that mentality of trying to hold on when you do not have the players to do so did them in. Where was Smalling for Thuram's goal and what was Fazio doing with that own goal? All in all they did okay even if I do think Mancini is a disaster waiting to happen with him always flailing his elbows then arguing needlessly after committing an obvious foul.
on the 8th November, 2019 at 12:37pm
I have no idea what incident the author is talking about penalty but if he is referring to the ball hitting Jullien then he is being silly as always. The defending is absolutely unbelievable and for an Italian side that is disgusting. How is it that a country noted for its defensive nous, its teams always seem to want to get cheap foreign and awful defenders? I don't see how any of Lazio's defenders are better than an average Italian defender. As for Roma they were more unlucky but again
on the 8th November, 2019 at 12:34pm
Lazio actually lost home and way to CELTIC. Let that sink in. In both games Simmone Inzaghi had the affront to say his side deserved more instead of hiding in utter shame. His decisions were the reason his side lost both games. What is the point of Caicedo? He goes to the ground so easily even though he has the physique of Tyson at his fittest. He is now so slow and what on earth was Luis Alberto doing on the bench? Okay you bring on Alberto but why takes out Lucas while Parolo was left on.
on the 8th November, 2019 at 12:22pm
Are Italian clubs to fall in ranking to have only three Serie A UEFA CL spots?
on the 8th November, 2019 at 12:18pm
The biggest problem for Italian teams is that in Serie A once the 80th minute arrives both teams just settle for the result and resort to three tactics, keep kicking the ball out of play, feign injury or keep fouling the opposition to break up play. Its the same for the first 10-15mins of most games. Serie A matches have about 60mins at best of real football. Until this changes Serie A will never reach previous levels...
on the 8th November, 2019 at 11:23am
possession. There needs to be a complete overhaul of the approach and that includes foreign coaches particularly from Spain and Germany.
on the 8th November, 2019 at 11:10am
Another week in Europe and another shocking performance from Italian teams: 1 W 1 D 2 L 3. Shocking. Embarrassing. How long before the powers that be in Italian football recognise that it is a terrible state? It's not about money. The Italian teams, barring maybe Atalanta who put in the best performance, are at the same or higher level than the teams they dropped points to. The difference is the other teams are tactically superior and more physical. Italian teams are slow, rigid and do not value
on the 8th November, 2019 at 11:08am

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