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Tuesday December 15 2020
Lazio set for difficult Bayern Munich challenge

The Biancocelesti had a successful Champions League group stage campaign but Lee Bushe argues there is only one way they can create trouble for Bayern Munich.

As the referee blew the final whistle on their nervy 2-2 draw against Club Brugge last week, Lazio had officially achieved something they hadn’t done for over two decades: qualify for the Champions League knockout stages.

It was a monumental achievement for a club who hadn’t even played in the competition for 13 years and even more so when you realise that they finished the group stage unbeaten in spite of having squad seriously lacking in depth and a Coronavirus outbreak back in October.

With Lazio’s qualification sealed, their attentions were now focused on the following week’s group stage draw, to see which one of Europe’s big guns they’ll be welcoming to the Olimpico in February. Their eventual draw against Bayern Munich provoked a wide range of emotions: excitement, at facing the European champions, and pessimism, an acceptance - two months in advance - that their Champions League journey will probably end at the Allianz Arena in March.

There is an obvious gulf in quality between Bayern and Lazio, and pessimism would have reigned even if the Biancocolesti were in the kind of form that saw them go 21 games unbeaten last season. But they aren’t. Simone Inzaghi’s side have struggled for form since football’s restart back in June, and that only makes the prospect of beating Bayern seem even more unlikely.

It doesn’t help that Lazio’s performances have been especially substandard recently. Out of their last five games, the Biancoclesti have won just once; an incredibly lucky 2-1 victory at Spezia, where the hosts had 66% possession and 15 shots compared to Lazio’s 34% possession and 4 shots. It’s not like their fixtures have been particularly difficult either: Udinese, Spezia, and Hellas Verona are all sides that a top-four club should really be beating convincingly. Instead, they could only scrape a win against Spezia and suffered embarrassing defeats to Udinese and Hellas at the Olimpico.

In fairness, these substandard performances aren’t a reflection of poor tactics or poor footballers, but a consequence of the fact that Lazio’s players seem perpetually shattered. Their tiny squad has had to cope with two fixtures a week for the past two months, which is fine when you focus all your attentions onto one competition, as the Biancocelesti did last season, but a big issue when you’re trying to simultaneously compete in two.

Take their 2-1 defeat to Verona on Saturday, for example. Lazio couldn’t play their usual, slick, counter-attacking style-of-play because their players didn’t have the energy to do so, and as a result, were no match for a side as defensively organised as the Gialloblu. Both of Verona’s goals came from sloppy mistakes on Lazio’s end too; the first being an own goal, and the second a result of Stefan Radu playing a pass straight towards the feet of a sprinting Gialloblu attacker, who easily scored.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The upcoming Christmas break should allow for Lazio’s players to recharge their batteries, and their new year schedule is significantly less busy in the build-up to the Bayern clash in February. This should give them the time and space to recapture the kind of form that made them such a force in Serie A last season, and give them the confidence they need to go to the European champions and believe they have a chance of winning. This side is no stranger to taking big scalps.

It’s also easy to forget that, in the midst of Lazio performing so poorly, that Inzaghi has genuinely world-class players at his disposal. Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are the “difference makers” and if they’re at the top of their game come February, Bayern could face a difficult task containing them.

@LeeCalcio

Have your say...
Remember, the hosts open as usual with 0:1 for Bayern visitors. Then Munchen starts to play.
on the 19th December, 2020 at 2:48pm
it will be a massacre.
on the 17th December, 2020 at 4:25pm
Laziale, I think sticking to that system has good & bad points - you said yourself the players aren't always there to work for that system & I don't think Inzaghi has it in him to revolutionise. I remember when the Lazio 3-5-2 was a terrifying sight and you knew you were in for a rough night but now I feel like most teams in Serie A would fancy their chances against this tired, deflated and understaffed Lazio side. Of course I would like to see them do well in Europe, but it's not likely.
on the 17th December, 2020 at 2:57pm
More like Lazio set for being dinner menu for Bayern Munich challenge,
or
Bayern Munich set for Eagle Christmas Dinner with lots of beer!
LOL
on the 17th December, 2020 at 4:49am
I disagree on some point. it was indeed a poor tactics, inzaghi is always played 3-5-2 even when a players at his disposal is unsufficiently available to play this system. add to that, he was really poor in adapting to opponent tactis and adjusting to it. lazio wait on their own half against bottom and lesser club at home in so many occasions,what was that?? another thing is he really make some players play out of position and it was not best in the long run. patric,parolo, you name it....
on the 17th December, 2020 at 3:19am
Obviously Bayern are favourites but if there is a team to trouble them & their high-line, then it's Lazio & their lightning counter's. If they don't bottle it like the Brugge game, it could be closer than pple think. They could've won their group but they've achieved the realistic target of the last-16, pressures off now & they can raise their performance vs big clubs. They're set-up well, they just don't seem to have the energy to remain as fluent & compact as before. Need 1 or 2 key Jan buys!
on the 17th December, 2020 at 2:58am
If you're looking for a hinge moment when a win became a draw, Patric's ludicrous wrestling match penalty at Brugge would be one. And there's Lazio's squad issue in a nutshell - that a player with Patric's liabilities is even in the frame.
on the 17th December, 2020 at 12:43am
As has been said, Lazio would have a puncher's chance vs Bayern in one match, but a something like 1:20 chance over two. All along I thought that it was wrong simply to target getting through when the group was so winnable - the much-touted Dortmund have been scuffling so much lately that they've sacked their manager - and when winning it earns you a much more winnable tie. Juve, realising that, put everything into beating Barcelona by the required margin and duly drew Porto.
on the 16th December, 2020 at 9:22pm
I agree with you Chris I’m just hoping until then Lazio will be in better condition les fixtures until February,anyway Lazio president is very tight he has had the chance to make this Lazio great only by adding one or two quality players every year very achievable and let’s be honest they have 4 good players on sms,luis Alberto,Acerbi and the best of them all immobile if Lazio don’t have them Lazio will get relegated 100%.i hope Lazio players don’t leave.
on the 16th December, 2020 at 3:11pm
Kledi - They were on fire this time last year but that fire has since been extinguished. Definitively. The players look exhausted all the time, they've been plagued with injuries from pushing players too hard. Lazio could be world beaters, but we'll never know because the owner isn't willing to invest in the squad. Even 60m in rotational players would boost them so much.
on the 16th December, 2020 at 9:59am
They have a minimal chance of going through.

Bayern are weak at the back, with Boateng being a liability, but they should be far too strong for Lazio in every other area.

Juve should be fine

Atalanta have a decent chance against the worst RM side in years. But no Gomez won't help.

The 3 EL teams all have a tough draw, but all are favourites to go through.

Hopefully we'll get a minimum of 4 through or 5 if things go well.
on the 16th December, 2020 at 7:11am
Bayern Munich is the toughest team they could get,and they are favourite to progress to the last eight and saying that this Lazio team enjoy playing big teams just ask juve what they did to them last year even this year they drew against them.i honestly believe this Lazio will trouble Bayern to bad it’s not like last year One leg play off,over 2 legs normally the better teams go through.

I’m hoping for Lazio to get through to next round but it’s going to be tough.
on the 15th December, 2020 at 6:47pm
I sometimes think that the collective bunch of über-smart chimps called "Captain Obvious" write these blogs. I mean, seriously, why write an entire article about something so obvious? Lazio can now concentrate on whining in matches in the league from February.
on the 15th December, 2020 at 6:39pm
I would put a month's wages on Bayern progressing. I'm almost sick of saying this but Lazio do not have the squad depth to challenge on more than one front.
on the 15th December, 2020 at 5:44pm

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