Wednesday February 5 2020
Scudetto deja vu for Lazio?

Lazio are the ultimate underdogs in the Scudetto race, but that has never stopped them before, writes Vijay Rahaman.

It's been 20 seasons since Lazio last celebrated their second and final Scudetto success, but they are in with a genuine chance for a third crown this year.

Back at the turn of the millennium, just as it seemed now, the Biancocelesti were the outsiders. They trailed Juventus by five points with just three matches remaining, but managed to overhaul the Bianconeri and won Serie A in their centenary year. Currently, they trail the eight-time defending champions by five points with a game in hand, maybe a case of deja vu?

Unlike that team under Sven Goran-Eriksson, was built with the riches of Sergio Cragnotti, this version of Le Aquile has been slowly and gradually put together. Under the astute tutelage of Simone Inzaghi, sporting director Igli Tare has supplied the former player with hidden gems, revitalised players who were lost and added genuine quality where possible.

The likes of Thomas Strakosha in goal, Francesco Acerbi at the back, Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the middle and Europe's current top scorer Ciro Immobile up front have all had sublime moments this and recent years. So far they have picked up 15 victories in 21 matches with just two losses. Included in this run are two wins over Juve (one in the Supercoppa Italiana) and a first win over Milan in Lombardy for 30 years. 

It's not just that they are winning... they are entertaining as well. They have managed 52 goals so far this season, second only to Atalanta. When they win the ball from their opponents, they move it forward with the speed and precision of an eagle in full flight heading towards its destination. The players have bought into Inzaghi's inspirational words, seem to move in unison and have a telepathic understanding of where each other are at any given moment, even without looking.

One criticism though of Inzaghi and this team is that they have not been able to make an impact in Europe, as they were bounced out of the Europa League group stage. He has not, nor has anyone connected with the 1999 Cup Winners Cup winners publicly stated as such, but given their lack of squad depth, it was always going to be difficult for them to compete on three fronts. Last year, they made it only as far as the Round of 32, but triumphed in the Coppa Italia. They have already been knocked out of the domestic cup this year by Napoli, so their sole priority is the league.

This gives the squad a full week to prepare between games, so Inzaghi can work on tactics and motivating his troops, the players that extra bit of time to overcome any niggling injuries and all and sundry to work with serenity and calmness that is not always present in the Eternal City, where passions run high.

Following the rescheduled game against Verona this evening, Lazio's run for the rest of the month of February could be deemed challenging, but it’s not improbable to say that they could win every fixture. Away trips to Parma and Genoa, who are fighting for Europe and survival respectively, are coupled by home games versus fellow Scudetto hopefuls Inter and a solid Bologna outfit. 

Many had expected that Lazio would have fallen by the wayside by now. In recent years, it was just what "Lazio do.” They would start the season well, have a few eye catching victories, but ultimately by the turn of the year, the feel good nature would dissipate and would be at best challengers for the top four and Champions League football. However, there seems to be a slightly different feel about this squad, as the confidence and belief that they have in their manager and each other is on full view, week in and week out. 

That belief was no more evident than when they went behind to Juve at home back in early December, only to storm back and claim a 3-1 win. They still have to go to Turin to face La Vecchia Signora and that clash in April could very well be the title decider. Lazio have been there before. 

When they won that Scudetto two decades ago, they also travelled to face Juve in the month of April and came away with a one-goal victory, courtesy of a Diego Simeone strike. By the time they go to the Allianz Juventus Stadium on April 26, the Serie A standings could very well be just as tight as they are right now. Of course, that match will mean nothing unless they keep up with the top two, starting with a victory today against Verona.

If they can continue their recent run and keep pace with Juve and Inter, there is no reason why they can't be the one lifting the Scudetto on the May 24. Deja vu...

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Have your say...
So many people jealous of Lazio
on the 10th February, 2020 at 1:17am
@ac milan fan

even by the standards of serie a back than lazio had a truly exceptional team their bench players were mancini, ravanelli and lombardo. the quality was insane the sold vieri in the summer and it was barely noticeable on the pitch.

This is the best lazio team of all time it is probably one of the stand out serie a teams of all time. this is why juve and milan brought half the team

By comparison roma scudetto team looked average batigol totti and cafu being the exception.
on the 7th February, 2020 at 11:53pm
Lazio are my second favorite team from Serie A, always been nice to watch, to follow. If not for Juventus this year, I will be glad if Biancocelesti wins lo Scudetto. But they tend to be like... Zorro from Serie A, taking points from the richest and gave it away to the poorest.
on the 6th February, 2020 at 11:24pm
So many people jealous to see Lazio flying high and keeping pace with teams who buy success rather than earn it. How can a team like Juve who have 4 times the salary budget not be 20 points clear of Lazio. Lazio draw a couple of games and its supposedly a disaster. Get real.
on the 6th February, 2020 at 8:12pm
@Paolo and Agus, yes but Serie A was the no. 1 league in the world then. Look at Juventus, Inter and Roma squads of the same period and they're better than their current squads now too. Maybe Juve comes closest to matching quality. Then from 2001 Milan had one of the best squads of all time until about 2006. Relatively speaking this Lazio deserves lots of credit for being 3rd and 4 points behind this Juve in this Serie A, even if they fall short. They spend a fraction of what Juve and Inter do.
on the 6th February, 2020 at 7:31pm
I am super happy to see Lazio getting excited like this, keep their hope high, feeling like they're in thee top of the world, and then.....
Fall like a dead eagle lol. That must be really hurt
on the 6th February, 2020 at 1:56pm
I must say, they're doing pretty okay for a provincial side.
on the 6th February, 2020 at 12:13pm
on the 6th February, 2020 at 9:20am
Lazio'2000 Scudetto playing departement consist top players of world football: Nestor sensini, segio conceicao, Alen Boksic, Marcelo Salas, Roberto Mancini, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Nesta, Diego Simeone, Nedved, Stankovic, Juan Veron etc...even current Real Madrid wont stand with them
on the 6th February, 2020 at 8:45am
come on when lazio won the scudetto 20 years ago they had a team which was the envy of the majority of teams in world football, you look at what nedved, nesta, veron, stankovic went on to achieve in their careers after lazio. obviously football has changed in 20 years but really how does lazio stack up against the big teams in serie a. immobile and savic are probably the two real top quality players correa, luis alberto and acerbi are of a decent standard. they aren't going to win the tittle.
on the 5th February, 2020 at 8:16pm

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