It was a case of back to business for Lazio following their 2-0 win away at Cagliari on Saturday evening.
Goals from Manuel Lazzari and the ever-reliable Ciro Immobile saw off the Rossoblu and it almost looked as though Simone Inzaghi’s side had never been apart, transitioning seamlessly from one campaign to another.
One of last season’s contenders to dethrone Juventus, the Aquile have not really made waves in the transfer market and had probably been written off as potential winners this-time-round by many, despite how well they performed last term.
The opening few weeks of any season, particularly the first game-week for most teams means showcasing what you’ve purchased during the summer transfer window, but not Lazio.
While Juventus enlisted the help of Alvaro Morata for a second time as well as splashing out on Arthur from Barcelona, Antonio Conte’s Inter have also spent big on Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid and drafted in experienced professionals like Arturo Vidal and Aleksandar Kolarov to strengthen their ranks.
AC Milan – an also-ran last time around – loaned in Brahim Diaz from Real Madrid but also signed one of the most highly-rated youngsters in Italian football, if not in Europe, in the form of Sandro Tonali who completed his move from Brescia.
While the Rossoneri are now being touted as favourites to land top-four spot and the always impressive Atalanta continue to blow teams away, that leaves the Biancocelesti being left out of many a conversation when the ones-to-watch are mentioned, especially when you consider that their city neighbours have also made a couple of smart signings in the last few weeks.
The fact that Inzaghi’s side aren’t drawing loads of attention and that may have suited them well as they went about their business on a windy evening in Sardinia. It was ‘as you were’ for Immobile and co. who had nobody new to get used to. Nobody to bed in. Nobody to babysit.
It was evident that Lazio, in their lairy, fluorescent green strip, had slotted together as though they’d never been on holiday. Their biggest summer acquisition, Vedat Muriqi, wasn’t fit to play so it was 3-5-2 and normal service resumed without the Kosovan forward.
The Aquile enjoyed most of the possession, more passes, and shots on goal than their opponents as they began season 2020/21 with a clean sheet and three points without drawing any particular attention to themselves.
Lazzari and Adam Marusic got up-and-down extremely well from their wing-back positions, the latter grabbing both assists on a great day for himself. Lucas Leiva kept things ticking over nicely, as usual, and of course Immobile got his goal, as he always does.
Di Francesco’s puzzle missing pieces.
Eusebio Di Francesco managed to drag his side away from Sassuolo with a 1-1 draw on the opening day, despite being completely outplayed, but there was no hiding from the fact that he needs further investment in his squad.
Saturday’s home defeat saw his Casteddu side struggle to get going at the Sardegna Arena, meanwhile his tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation evidently lacks the cogs required to tick over smoothly. It’s early days for the new coach but there’s a clear need to figure out who goes where and why.
Paolo Farago has never been much of a right-back and that showed again as he was sat down by Marusic for the first goal, while his teammate on the opposite flank, Charalampos Lykogiannis, was equally as poor for that goal and the remainder of the game.
Diego Godin is a huge signing, he’ll definitely add some brain and brawn to an unimpressive back four but that’s not all that’s required if the Rossoblu are to make a go of it this season. Aside from the full-backs, Nahitan Nandez doesn’t seem to have a set role in the side while last season’s top-scorer Joao Pedro is being forced out wide, struggling to get a grip on the game.
The loss of Radja Nainggolan was always going to hurt, and it does, but Cagliari probably need to look forward to life without the Belgian. Razvan Marin is having a hard time getting used to Serie A already as the Isolani midfield struggle to get a hold of the ball for extended periods of time.
The Sardinian outfit now face two games on the road against Atalanta and Torino respectively, with Godin likely to feature from the off in the hope that he can pull them together in time to come away with some points.