“We are in a great period of form, we should be ambitious.” These were the words of Simone Inzaghi after his team beat Juventus. He was right, the title race had been blown wide open by the result, but as people mused over whether Inter could win the title, they perhaps should also talk of the Aquile.
If Atalanta could qualify for the Champions League in third place, then isn’t it possible that Lazio could actually challenge for the title? Admittedly, there would need to be a number of caveats for this to be achieved, but it is not completely out of the realms of possibility. If they are to crash out of the Europa League early, it’ll allow them to focus entirely on Serie A with a limited squad.
Lazio are now only five points behind Inter. They face an in-form Cagliari in Sardinia, away to Brescia, at home to Verona and then take on a tragic Napoli in the Stadio Olimpico. It is an exciting time to follow the Roman team, and the Derby Della Capitale is just after these fixtures. They are the side in form and the football they play allows one to get carried away. Writing this piece is an open admission of just that. If you are reading it, then the request is not to critique the obvious, but to dream too.
Lazio do not have the stadium that has been purpose built for 2019, they don’t have the budget, the fan base is smaller than that of the Giallorossi and let’s be honest, the PR department is non-existent. English people especially hold Lazio close to their heart thanks to Paul Gascoigne and the romantic days that followed Italia 90, tip your hat to James Richardson and Channel 4. That in a way is another reason to enjoy Lazio’s success, as they bring back memories of all the greats from Beppe Signori to Juan Sebastian Veron.
Perhaps now it is time to be realistic, as despite the fact that Ciro Immobile is arguably having the best season of his life, it is a stretch to say Lazio can win the title. It would take Juventus first and foremost to implode. Despite the naysayers, the Turin-based club are still favourites, they have the best squad and they know how to win. It would be folly to ever talk about a title race without mentioning Juventus, as it is completely plausible that they could go on a 12-game unbeaten run at the drop of a hat.
So what of Inter? Antonio Conte and Beppe Marotta are not just constructing a dangerous team, they are building the foundations that could allow Inter to be the best team in Italy. Recognising potential is not easy, and Conte has understood quickly that this club he works for has a semi-suicidal nature. Getting rid of the ‘Pazza’ reputation has been a main objective and fans of the Nerazzurri can now honestly say that they are genuine title contenders.
So why not Lazio? Juventus could struggle to conform to Maurizio Sarri’s vision, Inter are always capable of implosion, so why not? Luis Alberto, Immobile and Joaquin Correa have discovered something special, but that is also the problem: they have a great XI and that’s it. Injuries cannot be afforded.
Luis Alberto’s ability to work between the lines is under-rated, as he has 11 Serie A assists this season, more than anyone in Europe’s top five leagues. Milinkovic-Savic is a beautiful and complete player, who breaks up the play and distributes the ball like a master artisan. Immobile and Correa have the pace and make the runs that are as direct as a fencer’s blow; they are at this moment, the perfect engine.
Mock the dream if you will, but for those with the ability to fantasise, think of this. Atalanta qualifying for the Champions League and Leicester City winning the English Premier League were both great moments. Did you not smile? It is unlikely that Lazio will be crowned kings of Italy, but at this moment in time, their form argues that they could be.
This is reason to dream, to get excited and in a world where there is so much negativity and poor form in the media, why can we not just have some fun?