Serie A season review, Lazio: a transitional voyage

by | May 23, 2022 14:23

Position: 5

Points: 64

Comparison with previous season: -4 (6th)

Season overview 

The winds of change blew through the streets of Rome this year on both sides of the Tiber, and Maurizio Sarri had the tough job of adapting a 3-5-2 counter-attacking focused team into one that played comfortably on the ball in a 4-3-3 formation. The first half of the season saw a mixture of exciting, electric displays and inconsistent, lethargic performances. As the second half of the campaign progressed, Lazio finally started to consistently display the signs of a Sarri side, in both a positive and negative sense, although a poor January transfer window hampered their chances of a top-four finish.

Turning point of the season 

When Lazio hosted Empoli in their first match of 2022, it’s likely that they weren’t prepared for such an explosive encounter. The team fell 2-0 down within the first eight minutes and fans were already starting to lose hope, but the team’s character shone through and they managed to grind out a point in a tough 3-3 draw. After this draw, Lazio would only lose four games and all of them were against top sides (Inter, Napoli, Roma and Milan). They finally seemed confident in Sarri’s 4-3-3 system and the passing movements started to look natural.

The coach – Maurizio Sarri

Sarri knew it wouldn’t be easy when he arrived in Rome last summer. He was taking over a team that had been so wedded to a 3-5-2 system that players like Manuel Lazzari were significantly stronger as a right wing-back, instead of a true right back. Despite the initial struggles, his emphasis on quiet hard work seemed to pay off and the team now clearly bare his mark. The incredibly disappointing January transfer window is clearly a cause for concern for the former Napoli and Chelsea coach, however, and so work in the summer could prove decisive in regards to his long-term future in the Italian capital.

Player of the Year – Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Milinkovic-Savic truly proved himself as one of Europe’s best midfielders this campaign, shining in Sarri’s 4-3-3 system. He scored 11 goals and provided 11 assists in 36 Serie A appearances, regularly proving the difference maker across the season. Even in matches where the Serbian midfielder didn’t contribute to a goal, his concrete work in the centre of the pitch was consistently one of the brightest parts of Lazio’s performances, with his technical skill and tenacity shining through even on the worst of days. Heavily linked with a move to a top club this summer, the loss of Milinkovic-Savic would be a painful blow for the Lazio faithful.

Disappointing player of the year – Francesco Acerbi

No Lazio player in recent memory has had a quicker fall from grace than Acerbi; 12 months ago, he was a fan favourite and the first name of the team sheet, but a poor start under Sarri saw the former Sassuolo man heavily criticised. His response, a ‘shhh’ celebration after a goal against Genoa, was easily his biggest mistake this season. It infuriated the Biancocelesti ultras and he was immediately told to leave the club. Despite a quick apology and a quiet return to work, the fans never forgave him and his departure seems all but certain this summer, despite the fact that his contract expires in 2025.

@ApolloHeyes

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