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Season Preview: The Last Laugh of Lazio

Lazio’s season hasn’t started out brightly, just like Roma’s. But what exactly are the Laziale capable of this year?

SS Lazio v Frosinone Calcio - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Yeah yeah, I know Serie A has already started, but with only 3 games in the bag, there’s still a lot of action ahead of us. So see this as a Season Previewish thingy. Also, with an international break behind us, it feels like the sleeping giant of Serie A still needs to awake. We were so glad the competition was back, only to be halted by the Azzurri, who are doing worse than Roma at the moment. You see, I’ve already forgotten the three previous rounds, partly due to Roma’s mediocre play.

But finally this weekend Serie A returns and for a longer period this time. Roma will play no less than five games by the end of September and seven games in a total of 20 days. So while the wait this Summer was long and there was a small interruption along the road, we’re suddenly treated with an overdose of AS Roma. Never a bad thing IMO. Psychiatrists in the world, rejoice!

One of those seven games is the famous derby against Lazio and coincidentally it’s our next team in the line of Season Previews. We already had Inter Milan not so long ago while I wasn’t really looking forward to talking about Ronaldo and Juve (apart from his amazing abs, I could go on and on and on about those bad boys). Milan is meh and it’s still too soon to talk about Napoli (the Ancelotti feels), so Lazio is an obivous pick. Or should I say...... prick?!

ROFL, LOL, LMAO, #funny, OMFG etc etc. Ok, I made a bad joke, sorry about that.

Lazio Roma. The eternal enemy and adversary of the Giallorossi. While Roma’s start is considered to be so-so, you can’t really call Lazio’s one positive. Roma have 4/9, Lazio 3/9. The Biancocelesti did already play the two strongest sides of last season though, Juventus and Napoli. However, a hard fought 1-0 win against Frosinone doesn’t strike fear into your enemy’s eyes.

Don’t be mistaken, Lazio had an extremly hard entree, so don’t let that 3/9 fool you. As of now they can start to slowly climb the table in search of a top 4 place. Empoli, Genoa and Udinese are next and certainly doable.

Last season Lazio narrowly missed the CL due to a last minute loss against Inter on matchday 38. Both teams ended with 72 points but Inter got the nod thanks to a better head-to-head result. Oh what a glorious day it was for the Giallorossi. Lazio did ended first in the league in the category ‘Goals Scored’ with 89, almost 30 more than Roma. That’s huge, imagine you have 30 extra goals to hand out during the season, how many extra points would Roma gain?

Six goals against Sassuolo, and Benevento, five against SPAL and Chievo, four against Fiorentina and Milan... They were scoring left and right and didn’t look back. Immobile was the top scorer with 29 goals but also SMS (too lazy to write his name in full but it doesn’t matter anyway because right now I’m writing way more letters, damn) and Luis Alberto were in top shape, scoring 12 and 11 respectively. At Roma only Dzeko scored double digits.

You want more bad news? Lazio got to keep hold of all three of them. They added some firepower with Correa from Sevilla, but also lost Brazilian magician Anderson to West Ham. Marchetti and especially De Vrij are notable departures. Instead they did some nice deals with Belgian Proto as replacement for Marchetti and Acerbi from Sassuolo to fill the void that De Vrij left.

Badelj, linked to Roma for a long time, eventually chose the wrong side of Rome on a free. Unlike Roma, Lazio didn’t go all guns blazing during this mercato and their most expensive transfer was Correa for 15 million. And to be fair, he isn’t really a household name like Pastore, Kluivert or Nzonzi. Last season he gathered 21 appearances in Spain, scoring only one goal.

Acerbi is decent, I also wanted him in Rome as third or fourth choice CB, but De Vrij has a higher ceiling. Acerbi’s already 30 so he won’t explode or improve a lot this season. Decent at best. Berisha and Durmisi are two other additions who don’t immediately ring a bell, Salzburg and Betis were their previous clubs. Perhaps they can surprise Italy, but right now I’d put my money on Cristante, Kluivert or Marcano eight days a week.

The rest of the newcomers? Kids, not really terrifying names: Minala, Morisson, Cataldi, Lombardi… Hardly worth a mention. One more famous name, the Portugese Nani, left and went back to Sporting.

And that’s all really. While Inter countered Juve with Radja, Politano, Asamoah and Keita, Lazio’s Summer has been rather quiet and, well, dull actually. You’d almost feel sorry for the Laziale… Almost.

But I’m going to try to not laugh too much at Lazio. Like I said, with a more difficult schedule they’re only one point behind us and Roma itself isn’t exactly oozing with confidence. Apart from that, Lazio, as much as I hate them, still have a lot of interesting players like Strakosha, Luis Alberto, Parolo, Marusic and Lukaku (the younger one). Combine that with the brilliance of SMS and Immobile and you still have a team that can go a long way and fight for the top 4 until the very last game. Kinda like last season.

Their coach, Simone Inzaghi, is in his third season at the club and knows the players and club inside out by now. In direct confrontations between Roma and Lazio so far he’s won one derby, drew one and lost two. Looks like we’ll once again be set for two thrilling derbies in 2018-2019. And who would want it any other way?

Of course I hope Roma will leave them far behind in the table, alongside the Fiorentina’s, Sampdoria’s, Atalanta’s and Torino’s of this world, but the reality is there’s not that much difference between the two sides at the moment.

Time will tell if De Vrij will be sorely missed. Can Immobile repeat his tally of ‘17-’18? And how focused will SMS be? Could he already be thinking of a transfer in the Winter to Juve, City or Real? Then again, there also a lot of questions in Roma’s camp.

In any case, let’s not carried away by the mercato of both teams. While Roma may have dealt a blow to Lazio in the Summer, the Biancocelesti could be having the last laugh by Spring.