It wouldn’t be harsh to say that for yet another year Italian teams haven’t really started the Europa League season in an impressive fashion.
In fact, the problems for the Serie A participants began even before the campaign started, as Milan withdrew from the tournament in order to avoid sanctions for breaking UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations. Shortly after Torino, who took the place of the Rossoneri, suffered two disappointing defeats against a very good, but beatable Wolverhampton Wanderers side.
This left Roma and Lazio as the only Italian teams in the Group Stage of the competition, but the two Capital clubs started their European campaign in completely opposite ways.
The Giallorossi completely outplayed Istanbul Basaksehir at the Stadio Olimpico, which resulted in a well-deserved 4-0 victory. On the other hand, Lazio returned empty handed from Romania after their second consecutive 2-1 defeat, having taken the lead against both SPAL and CFR Cluj.
Not only did the Biancocelesti lose again, but they did it in a very similar manner to the defeat they suffered at the Stadio Paolo Mazza just four days ago. Despite missing Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto up front, Simone Inzaghi’s men took the lead in the first half, but their intensity significantly dropped, which eventually resulted in another disappointing result away from home.
Lazio fans will be hoping that such performances away from the Stadio Olimpico will not become a trend, but the signs are not good.
Felipe Caicedo proved once again that although he can be a useful outlet up front, he just lacks the cutting edge and the mobility that Immobile offers. Despite having Joaquin Correa playing next to him, Caicedo had zero impact in the attacking third, failing to register a single shot on target nor complete a single dribbling attempt, losing possession on six occasions.
Yet the 31-year-old remained on the pitch during the full 90 minutes, with the only reasonable explanation being the lack of alternatives on the bench. This once again leads us to the topic of Lazio’s summer transfer dealings, or to be more precise - the lack of them.
The early signs are that Manuel Lazzari has finally resolved the Biancocelesti’s issues at right wing back, but as good as the former SPAL outlet has been, his arrival is just not enough for Lazio.
It’s true that it’s still too early to judge the Aquile’s season. After all, this was only their European opener and the other game in their group between Celtic and Rennes ended in a draw, so nothing is lost yet.
The Biancocelesti are a completely different animal when playing at the Olimpico, where they should be able to pick up enough points, although the other opponents will not be the easiest. However, if Lazio want to improve on their recent Europa League performances and mount a serious top four challenge domestically, Inzaghi’s men need to improve their away performances drastically.
Paulo Fonseca’s men started their European campaign in the completely opposite fashion compared to their arch rivals. The Giallorossi continued their impressive goalscoring record at home, as the last time they failed to score at the Olimpico was almost a year ago, losing 2-0 against Real Madrid.
The 4-0 win against Istanbul Basaksehir means that Roma have now scored 11 times in only three home games since the start of the campaign.
However, what was arguably more important than the goals scored was the clean sheet, as this was the first one for Roma in the Fonseca era. Undoubtedly the Lupi’s biggest weakness since Alisson Becker left is their defence and the fact that they conceded only one shot on target against the Turks will definitely boost the team’s confidence.
Here it should be stated that Istanbul Basaksehir have been in horrific form, with the club failing to register a single clean sheet since the start of the season. The lack of any cohesion or confidence in the visitors’ game clearly show that this is a completely different side to the one that nearly won the Super League title last term, with Galatasaray snatching the trophy on the final day.
The tenacity of the Roma attack was too much for the heavier legs of the visitors, as another well-known veteran Gael Clichy had a nightmare of a game against Nicolò Zaniolo. The Italian starlet finished the game with a goal and two assists, a tally that deservedly won him the Man of the Match award.
Although there were a few negatives in the Roma performance last night, none of them were significant enough to mention, as even Nikola Kalinic made his debut and nearly scored a goal for the first time since January when he netted for Atletico Madrid.
On the other hand, the positives for Lazio were very few, with Bastos and Jony, who made his Lazio debut on the European stage, performing better than the bunch.
Overall, it can be concluded that last night we saw a perfect example of the two-faced nature of the Roman sides, with the Giallorossi being absolutely devastating at home and Lazio showing their lack of squad depth and underperforming heavily away from the Olimpico.
This time the Giallorossi were undoubtedly much better than their neighbours, but despite being completely different, both teams share similar problems when it comes to their defence and away performances. Therefore, don’t be too surprised if the roles are changed next time, as this is just part of the nature of both clubs.