With Lazio trailing 1-0 to Torino at half time, I tweeted that Ciro Immobile was playing like he had “weights in his boots”.
I declared that the Aquile’s star man was yet to rediscover his pre-lockdown form, but that his team-mates would need him to in the second half.
Immobile scored from the penalty against Fiorentina but failed to otherwise make a real impact, while he cut a frustrated and tired figure in his efforts during the defeat to Atalanta.
During the first half in Turin, his handball handed Torino the penalty through which they opened the scoring, before lashing at two good chances you would usually expect him to bury.
Judging by what happened after he re-emerged from the dressing room, it’s almost like the Italy international spent the interval hunched over his phone, angrily staring at my criticism.
Within three minutes of the restart, he was back. It was a classic Lazio move; Luis Alberto carried the ball through midfield, rolled a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Immobile, and the striker fired a finish on his weaker left foot into the bottom corner with pinpoint accuracy.
Point proven, Ciro.
The 30-year-old has made a habit of smashing records during his time in the Italian capital, and made some significant work on that front in Turin.
His strike at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino was his 29th of the season, equalling the record for a Lazio player in a single Serie A season. A record that was, obviously, set by Immobile himself back in 2017/18.
It also made him the only Serie A player to score as many as 29 goals in 29 Serie A games since Antonin Angelillo in 1959 with 31.
At this rate, it would take some bravery to bet against him matching, or even surpassing, the single-season goal record of 36 set by Gonzalo Higuain at Napoli in 2015/16.
There was, however, a concerning sub-plot to Immobile and Lazio’s comeback heroics on Tuesday.
The yellow card the striker picked up for his early handball guaranteed he will be suspended for Saturday’s visit of AC Milan – and Felipe Caicedo soon joined him on the suspension list after earning a booking of his own before half time.
The loss of the two strikers leaves the Biancocelesti with a selection emergency for one of the biggest games remaining on their fixture list.
With Immobile and Caicedo ruled out, Joaquin Correa will lead the attack. But the Argentine hasn’t been fit enough to start the last two games and it’s uncertain whether he’ll be able to make it through 90 minutes.
Normally, the next two options would be Bobby Adekanye and untested but promising teenager Raul Moro. Both players have been injured since the restart.
Inzaghi may have to get inventive. It could mean pushing Luis Alberto back into a trequartista role, or having Sergej Milinkovic-Savic play further up the pitch, but altering the role of either midfielder could throw the whole team off balance.
Young Andre Anderson remains raw and only has a handful of substitute appearances to his name, but he could be deployed alongside Correa if needs must. Who knows, maybe Bastos will be given a run-out up there.
Whatever happens, Milan will be delighted at the timing of their trip to the capital.
Torino not out of the woods yet
It was vital for Moreno Longo to start well after such a long break. His side were plummeting towards Serie B before the suspension of sport, losing seven games in a row, including the new coach’s first three in charge since replacing sacked boss Walter Mazzarri.
On the resumption of Serie A, the Granata deserved more than a point for their performance against Parma, before finally recording their first win since 12 January against Udinese.
But back-to-back defeats to Cagliari and Lazio mean they still can’t afford to rest on their laurels – especially when you look at the daunting fixture list in front of them.
Longo’s side have Juventus and Inter coming up over the next two weeks, and still need to face Verona and Roma beyond that.
Matches against the teams around them or below them – Brescia, Genoa, Fiorentina and SPAL – will decide whether or not they are involved in a relegation battle.
As things stand, Toro have a six-point cushion over Lecce in the final relegation spot, as well as three teams between them and the drop zone.
But things can change quickly, especially with games coming thick and fast. Longo must ensure that these back-to-back defeats, which could well turn into three in a row at the Derby della Mole on Saturday, don’t result in the squad reverting back to the pre-lockdown form that had them spiralling down the standings.