2015-16 SERIE A REVIEW

LAZIO

2015-16 review

Serie A Pts P W D L F A
8th 54 38 15 9 14 52 52

Coppa Italia: Quarter-Finals / Team rating: 5 / Top scorer: Candreva (10)

Europe: Europa League Round of 16

Lazio’s good work from last season was undone as a poor transfer campaign, drop in key players’ form and inconsistent, ill-disciplined performances combined for a nightmare, writes Alasdair Mackenzie.
 

The Eagles crash land

 
It all started so promisingly. The sun was shining on Rome as Lazio began 2015-16 with a Champions League campaign in touching distance and stars like Stefan De Vrij, Lucas Biglia, Felipe Anderson and Antonio Candreva still at the club.
 
Stefano Pioli had masterminded one of the capital club’s best seasons in years by leading them to third place in Serie A with an attractive brand of football. Fast forward 12 months and the Aquile are back in mid-table after a season defined by the all-too familiar themes of inconsistency, injury problems and off-field tension.
 
The problems began in the summer transfer market, where President Claudio Lotito failed to use the club’s newly found Champions League status to attract any established stars. Promising youngsters arrived – Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ricardo Kishna most notably – but they bolstered positions that were already well-staffed in the squad.
 
Lotito and his right-hand man Igli Tare saw their transfer campaign as a success because they had kept players at the club, rather than actually tending to the gaping holes in defence. This oversight would effectively destroy the Aquile’s ambitions for the season, as De Vrij picked up an injury that ruled him out for the entire campaign and saw the club ship 51 goals in 36 league games in his absence.
 
After crashing out of the Champions League playoff to Bayer Leverkusen despite a 1-0 first leg win, things were souring rapidly. It only got worse. An ongoing row between the Lazio (and Roma) Ultras and the Prefect of Rome Franco Gabrielli about the introduction of safety barriers in the Stadio Olimpico’s Curva sections kicked off a season-long boycott. Attendances plummeted as the supporters refused to accept the invasion of their spiritual home. Soon, the team’s performances declined almost at the same rate.
 
 
The campaign began with an excellent run of home form as Pioli led his side to eight consecutive wins in Rome. This momentum was matched in Europe, where four wins and two draws secured top spot for the Biancocelesti in their Europa League group.
 
Last season, the turn of the year sparked Lazio’s incredible run of form that catapulted them into contention for second place. This year, the New Year fireworks coincided with a bout of startling inconsistency that would eventually earn Pioli the sack.
 
The tactician failed to put together two wins in a row in 2016 and his side’s defensive ineptitude and unpredictability were frustrating in equal measure. A 2-1 win over Inter was followed up by a 0-0 draw against Carpi. A 4-2 aggregate win over heavyweights Galatasaray in the Europa League last 16 led to a humiliating 4-1 exit to minnows Sparta Prague in the following round.
 
Lotito eventually ran out of patience after a 4-1 defeat to Roma marked the club’s heaviest Derby della Capitale defeat in 14 years. Simone Inzaghi has since managed to bring back a shred of respectability to the club by recording four wins in his seven outings on the bench and getting superb form out of club legend Miroslav Klose just in time for his big send-off. 
 
However, the reality of a summer clear-out, no European football and being back to square one again will leave a sour taste in the mouths of Laziali. With reports saying Antonio Candreva and Lucas Biglia are set for the exit door and no fans left in the stadium, storm clouds have replaced sunshine in the sky over the blue side of Rome. 

The Coach – Stefano Pioli (Weeks 1-31) Simone Inzaghi (Weeks 32-38)

Pioli’s debut season was one of the success stories of the year, but the tactician failed to recreate the fearless, swashbuckling football his team displayed in 2014-15. He eventually paid the price, being fired following a 4-1 Rome Derby humbling, giving youth team Coach Inzaghi the chance to audition for a promotion.

Player of the Year – Lucas Biglia

Lazio’s desperation to keep the Argentina international in the capital last summer led to Biglia being unexpectedly handed the captaincy. He’s filled the role well and his importance to the team was highlighted by the noticeable drop in the Aquile’s performances whenever the playmaker was missing. Lazio will do very well to keep the 30-year-old in Rome this summer.

Did you know? 

Miroslav Klose leaves Lazio as their joint-seventh top scorer of all time with 64 goals, despite joining the club aged 33.
 
Stefano Pioli was sacked after losing 4-1 to rivals Roma – Lazio’s heaviest Rome Derby defeat since a 5-1 drubbing in March 2002.
 
The Biancocelesti’s defence and attack both declined hugely from last season; they conceded 14 more goals and scored 19 fewer than in 2014-15. 

Squad

No Pos Player Apps Gls Assists
22 GK Federico Marchetti 34 - -
99 GK Etrit Berisha 9 (2) - -
29 D Abdoulay Konko 17 (1) - -
8 D Dusan Basta 21 (2) - -
5 D Edson Braafheid 3 (2) - -
33 D Mauricio 19 (5) - -
4 D Patric 6 (3) - -
18 D Santiago Gentiletti 19 - -
3 D Stefan De Vrij 2 - -
26 D Stefan Radu 13 - 1
2 D Wesley Hoedt 24 (1) - -
13 D Milan Bisevac 11 1 -
7 M Ravel Morrison 0 (4) - -
32 M Danilo Cataldi 16 (4) 1 3
23 M Ogenyi Onazi 14 (1) 1 1
21 M Sergej Milinkovic-Savic 17 (8) 1 -
6 M Stefano Mauri 6 (6) 1 1
19 M Senad Lulic 28 (2) 3 3
16 M Marco Parolo 30 (1) 3 -
20 M Lucas Biglia 26 (1) 4 3
88 A Ricardo Kishna 7 (4) 2 -
14 A Keita Balde Diao 15 (16) 4 2
87 A Antonio Candreva 28 (2) 10 3
10 A Felipe Anderson 21 (14) 7 4
9 A Filip Djordjevic 16 (11) 3 2
17 A Alessandro Matri 7 (12) 4 1
11 A Miroslav Klose 14 (10) 7 7