Lazio sealed three points at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi against Hellas Verona on Sunday, claiming a late 1-0 win. The author of the only goal was Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the 92nd minute.
It was far from being the most entertaining 90 minutes, though it was an interesting tactical battle.
Both sides played with three center backs and applied similar strategies with a few, yet important differences.
Despite both coaches absent from the dugout, Ivan Juric and Simone Inzaghi’s plans were clear as day. The hosts put in an honorable fight and a performance that represents their good season.
The Gialloblu set out a disciplined and very much resilient man-marking. One that caused Lazio a lot of difficulties, until the last 15 minutes the visitors had not managed any shot on target. All roads were shut for the capital side.
Miguel Veloso and Stefano Sturaro oversaw Lucas Leiva and Luis Alberto respectively, while two of the center backs were on Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo, while Federico Dimarco who would usually be the ‘spare’ one would be marking Milinkovic-Savic.
The latter point was what flawed Juric’s plan. Staying with the positives, it was almost impossible for Immobile and company to get through unless it was for individual efforts or opponent’s mistakes. Whenever a Lazio player would try a long shot, he would be met with serious encouragement from the bench, knowing it was one of the few paths to scoring.
The hosts’ defending was effective, forcing their adversary to pass in excess to try and find an open space.
Le Aquile had an overruled goal, however, the technique behind it was quite intelligent. Striker Caicedo dropped between the lines, taking with him Verona center half Giangiacomo Magnani and creating space in behind, using his physical superiority, pace, and skill to break through. Though the referee judged a foul on the forward while getting past Magnani.
Granted, it has to be given to Verona that they remained resilient and stuck to the game plan laid out and did not have any serious lapses, keeping their focus and energy throughout the 90 minutes. Unfortunately for them the goal came at the 92nd, Verona had two midfielder v three for Lazio, that would be to keep three in the back to outnumber the two strikers and three at the front to pressurize the Lazio defense.
A plan that left the Rome side’s most complete player Milinkovic-Savic the one with the most freedom. He was the player that moved the most around the pitch making the movement all the more fluid, he might be a midfielder but his 6ft3 allure gives him the ability to also be a target man. And with the league’s most creative center back in the side, Stefan Radu was able to find him and kill off all the efforts of Juric’s men. The scorer is now the second midfielder with the most goal involvement (15).