Ten in a row. That will be the headline in the Roman sports pages on Sunday, after Lazio beat Napoli 1-0 at the Olimpico to achieve something they’ve never achieved before: a tenth consecutive Serie A win.
It’s an impressive feat for any team, but nothing short of remarkable for a side that was tipped by many before the season started to struggle with their objective of Champions League qualification.
There’s a long road ahead, of course, and nothing is certain yet. But the fact that Simone Inzaghi’s side have opened up a seven-point lead over Roma and Atalanta, a 17-point lead over AC Milan and a stunning 18-point gap to last year’s runners-up Napoli before the halfway point of the season is a staggering feat.
It’s easy to get carried away with the numbers, but Saturday’s victory over Napoli highlighted once again that Lazio aren’t just winning game after game, but finding different ways to do so.
During their 10-match run, the Biancocelesti have been presented with all manner of puzzles to solve. They’ve found themselves in an eclectic variety of situations against a mixed bag of opponents, and have always come away smiling.
They’ve had some thumping wins. The 4-0 battering of Torino, a 4-2 win over Lecce, the 3-0 dismantling of Udinese.
Then there’s been the late drama that has come to define this run. Ciro Immobile scored on the 89th minute to beat Fiorentina, Felipe Caicedo on the 90th to conquer Sassuolo, Immobile at the same time against Brescia, and then there was the remarkable game against Cagliari where two goals were scored inside stoppage time to come from behind and clinch victory.
History has needed to be written along the way to keep the run going. At San Siro in November, Lazio beat Milan (with another late goal) to end a 30-year wait for a league win away to the Rossoneri.
December’s clash with Juventus posed a new set of problems. Lazio had to find their first home league win against the Bianconeri in 16 years. They had to find a way past a team that was unbeaten all season.
Not only that, but they had to come from behind, having conceded an opener to Cristiano Ronaldo. This is something they’ve seemed utterly incapable of even attempting in previous years.
This time, they responded with an equaliser before the break before a superb second half performance saw two more goals arrive. They had to be smart, they had to manage the game against a more illustrious opponent. They did exactly that.
And finally, Napoli. Again there was unwanted history to contend with, this time the fact that they hadn’t beaten the Partenopei in Rome since 2012 and had lost their last five meetings in a row in all venues.
The game could’ve gone either way during a balanced second half, but Lazio managed to keep it tight, avoid stupid mistakes, and count on their goalkeeper to come up big when they needed him to. Napoli didn’t, and Lazio capitalised.
Lazio have won big. They’ve completed comebacks. They’ve produced upsets. They’ve edged games on knife-edge margins. They’ve found late goals when they needed to.
Inzaghi’s side aren’t just winning lots of games. They are winning games in lots of ways. And it’s hard to see who can stop them.