Lazio: The Roman Revival
The 2010 decade in Italian football belongs to Juventus as the Turin-based club won eight consecutive scudetti since 2011/12. Coming to the new decade, Juventus faces a hard challenge to extend their domination. Their biggest competitor is not the mighty AC Milan, who won the last scudetto before Juve’s eight-season run. It’s not Internazionale either, even though they’re still in the title race with a nine-point deficit.
Juventus’ fiercest test this season is coming from the city of Rome. No, it’s not the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League semifinalist AS Roma. Instead, it’s SS Lazio; the team who finished eighth in the Serie A last season. How can Simone Inzaghi’s men punch above their weight? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
So far, Lazio has scored 60 league goals; the second-highest in the Serie A. Their record is even better than Juventus, with only 50 goals under their belt. The main reason behind Lazio’s aggression is Ciro Immobile. The 30-year-old forward is averaging 3.9 shots per game; Serie A’s joint-third best.
Immobile is today’s Serie A top scorer with 27 goals. However, his current expected goals (xG) tally only standing at 20.22. It means that the Italian should only score a maximum of 21 goals; six fewer than he has at the moment. Immobile’s performance is very crucial for his club as he’s contributing 45% of all Lazio league goals in this campaign.
The former Borussia Dortmund striker is not the only responsible figure in Lazio’s attacking line. It’s Luis Alberto who is also playing a pivotal role to help Immobile get his goals. Currently, Alberto averages 3.0 key passes per game. Looking at the stats, that is the best achievement among all Serie A players so far. Not only that, but Alberto also rates 2.1 successful dribbles per match; joint-tenth highest in the league.
From those numbers, Alberto boasts a sky-high 12 league assists to his name. Four of those went to Immobile; underlining their unbreakable chemistry upfront. Not only that, similar to the Italian, Alberto is also performing above expectations. Per the statistics, so fat the 27-year-old has a sum of 7.79 expected assists (xA) in Serie A. That number shows that Alberto only ‘deserves’ as high as eight league assists to boast; four fewer than the reality.
Lazio’s brilliance doesn’t stop there. With only 23 goals conceded so far, Lazio has the best defensive record in Serie A. However, Inzaghi’s men should have conceded more than that. Their expected goals against (xGA) number strongly back that argument. Currently, Lazio has 31.45 xGA; equal to a maximum of 32 league goals ended at the back of their net. Yet, they let nine goals fewer. How did this happen?
One of the reason is Lucas Leiva, who has been performing superbly all season. The former Liverpool midfielder is averaging 2.6 tackles per game; one of the league’s best. That number is even similar to Kalidou Kouilbaly, Napoli’s highly-rated center-back.
Not only to Leiva, but praises must also go to Thomas Strakosha. The 24-year-old goalkeeper is currently averaging 3.1 saves per league game. The record is far better than Inter’s veteran goalkeeper, Samir Handanovic, who only averages 2.7 saves per Serie A match. Strakosha’s splendid display between the sticks helps Lazio to collect nine clean sheets in the league thus far. That’s equal to 34.6% of the matches without picking the ball from his goal.
Looking at the numbers, some may say that Lazio is quite lucky. Well, I beg to differ. Lots of their players, including Immobile, Alberto, and Leiva, are playing their best-ever football at the moment. Big credit must be given to Inzaghi, who working his backside off to help Lazio returning to the top echelon. With only one point separated from Juventus, there’s a big chance for the scudetto to return to Rome once again.
Credit: transfermarkt.com, whoscored.com.
I’m Petrick Sinuraya, a 22-year-old football writer based in Indonesia.
Currently, I work as a freelance writer at Ronnie Dog Media; mostly writing match analysis pieces for totalfootballanalysis.com.
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