Lazio have struggled in big matches this season and that might become detrimental to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
Currently equal fourth with AC Milan in Serie A with 18 points after 10 rounds, the Biancocelesti have lost four matches in the league against clubs battling for spots in Europe and they are all illustrious names.
On the opening day they lost 2-1 at home to Napoli and then they were defeated 2-0 away to Juventus a week later. Most embarrassing of all they lost the Rome Derby 3-1 to Roma in round seven and the latest failure against a strong opponent was their 3-0 defeat at home to Inter on Monday evening.
Lazio have been more competitive against weaker opponents but they have crumbled under the pressure when they play against direct rivals for European spots or superior opposition. This is rather surprising considering that they had some positive results in 2017/18 against the other big teams in Italy.
The Biancocelesti defeated Juventus 3-2 in the 2017 Supercoppa Italiana, and in the first half of the Serie A campaign, they defeated the Bianconeri 2-1 away, thrashed AC Milan 4-1 at home, and drew 0-0 with Inter away.
During the second half of the 2017/18 season, they struggled in big games and the defeat to the Nerazzurri in the final round epitomised the Biancocelesti’s inability to cope when the stakes are high. They lost 3-2 to the Biscione despite being 2-1 up with 12 minutes to go and it cost them a place in this season’s Champions League.
Perhaps it is a psychological issue that coach Simone Inzaghi has to address or there are certain players that have to improve their form and attitudes. Spanish playmaker Luis Alberto and Serbian midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic were instrumental for the Aquile last season but those two have failed to replicate that form so far this time.
Unfortunately buckling under pressure is not a new experience for Lazio players. They were surprisingly eliminated by RB Salzburg 6-5 on aggregate in the quarter-finals of the 2017/18 Europa League despite winning the first leg 4-2 and they lost 5-4 on penalties to AC Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals after both legs ended 0-0.
In addition to their failures at club level, Italian internationals Marco Parolo and Ciro Immobile played for the Azzurri in their elimination by Sweden in the 2018 World Cup qualification play-offs.
Are Lazio plateauing at the moment or has this squad of players reached its zenith under Inzaghi?
The tactician has done a fabulous job in over two seasons, having to work with limited funds and resources under president Claudio Lotito and sporting director Igli Tare. He has improved the quality of the players and created a team that has scored an abundance of goals by playing some exciting counterattacking football.
Maybe some of these players just need to turn their form around, they need to gain more experience or even a coach as shrewd as Inzaghi still needs to improve with experience due to his career still being in its infancy.
This frailty against strong opponents needs to be addressed quickly or any Champions League aspirations for Lazio will dissipate. Winning consistently against small teams is one thing but the Biancocelesti must eliminate any inferior complexes if they want to achieve greater success.