A cynical Lazio won three heavy points against Spezia. The Biancocelesti finalised matters in the first-half thanks to Ciro Immobile and a superb freekick by Sergej Milinković-Savić. In the second half, Lazio defended their win even though Spezia scored one goal.
Spezia was set up in a 4-3-3 formation. Ivan Provedel started as a goalkeeper, Simone Bastoni as a left-back and Salvador Ferrer on the other side. Claudio Terzi and Julian Chabot played as centre-backs to further the harmony between this duo. Matteo Ricci was the playmaker while Giulio Maggiore and Nahuel Estévez played as inside midfielders. Former Cagliari winger Diego Farias played on the left whereas Emmanuel Gyasi started on the right-wing and M’Bala Nzola led the front line.
Simone Inzaghi used his usual formation: the 3-5-1-1. Pepe Reina started in between the posts. The Italian manager chose Luiz Felipe, Francesco Acerbi and Ștefan Radu to start in the defensive line, Manuel Lazzari as a right-back while Adam Marušić played on the other side. In midfield, the two central midfielders were Sergej Milinković-Savić and Luis Alberto with Lucas Leiva as a defensive midfielder. Andreas Pereira played between the lines whereas Ciro Immobile was the striker.
Spezia style of play
Vincenzo Italiano is a debutant coach in Serie A. And his style of play is in contrast to the common defensive approach, especially by this promoted team. His tactical features are aggression in every zone of the pitch, a high defensive line and the prevalence of wing play in order to exploit the ability of his forwards.
Lazio just came back from a hard European away game and in this period almost all teams participating in the European competitions are having difficulties in their league fixtures. Lazio lost 1-3 against Udinese one week ago, proving this physical stress.
In this way, Italiano prepared for an intense game, in order to tire Lazio from the beginning. The gegenpressing method was evident in the image below. Luis Alberto was surrounded by Spezia’s players. And in this case, the technical ability jumped out and Lazio almost never complicated their plays.
Spezia’s needle of the scale was Ricci. The Italian midfielder launched every action and his position was determinant, especially in the build-up phase: one assist, 95 touches, 79/86 passes (92% of accuracy), one key pass, 8/10 long balls, one interception and two tackles. It was surely a good performance for him.
In the image below we can see this situation in which Ricci lowered his radius of action between the two centre-backs, starting the common “Salida Lavolpiana”. Ferrer and Bastoni moved forward to occupy Lazzari and Marušić while the inside midfielders covered the central part of the pitch. Meanwhile, Farias and Gyasi moved closer to Nzola in order to become in a 3-4-2-1 formation.
Spezia’ aggressivity and the key position of Pereira
Spezia tried to press high in order to recover the ball as quickly as possible. Spezia’s barycenter was high and this approach allowed them to create so many chances. In the first half, the data about xG was emblematic: 1.22 (Spezia) vs 0.43 (Lazio).
In the image below we can see how Spezia tried to regain the possession. Ricci marked Leiva, the three forwards stayed on the three-man defence while inside forwards and full-backs were completely paired up.
Lazio seemed unable to have an escape valve. However, the position of Pereira was determinant. Reina often tried the long-ball to Immobile. The striker had to win the duel against one of the two centre-backs and then unloaded to the former Manchester United player who played between the lines.
The problem was that he had difficulties to enter the game. Only 15 passes in 90 minutes, nine possessions lost and 4/12 duels won.
The analysis of the goals
Lazio’s cynical day was winning. As a matter of fact, the first-half was necessary to win the three points. Lazio expected Spezia’s aggressivity and Inzaghi decided to lower the team’s barycenter in order to reduce spaces and hit in counterattacks.
As a matter of fact, the first goal summarized the game. Milinković-Savić recovered the ball, uprooting it from the feet of Maggiore in a very dangerous position. At that point, Immobile started his run attacking the depth. The Serbian wrapped a great assist to the Italian and the former Borussia Dortmund striker scored without problems.
In the image above, we can see how Spezia conceded the leading goal to Lazio. While in the image below we can see where the second goal started. Spezia lost the ball outside Lazio’s penalty area, letting Lazzari run towards the opposite half.
Bastoni and Ricci did not plunge the tackle and Immobile created the passing line for himself. The Italian forward is probably one of the best in the world in this regard. When he has space in-depth, he is unstoppable. Chabot blocked him with a foul and from the freekick, Milinković-Savić scored a great goal.
The Serbian was the man of the match: one goal, one assist, 44 touches, 22/29 passes (76% of accuracy), one key pass, 6/7 long balls, 1/1 successful dribble, 8/15 duels won, three times fouled, one clearance, one blocked shot, one interception and two tackles.
Spezia wasted so many chances and they dominated also in the second half. Nzola reduced the distances with a class goal. Ricci tried to find the key with a long pass for the striker’s movement in depth. Nzola won the 1vs1 against Acerbi and then found the far post with an incredible shot. In this case, Acerbi was not ready even though he knew that Nzola is lefty.
Important mention to the former Trapani striker: one goal, three shots, 1/1 successful dribble, 36 touches, 21/25 passes (84% of accuracy) and 2/6 duels won. The 0/4 of aerial duel means that he must improve in this regard.
Spezia did not reap the benefits of their work. Italiano’s team deserved more and also the data vouched for it. The positive aspect is the attitude because the squad was always inside the game and they could have found the 2-2 in every moment.
Lazio thought they finished this Serie A game in the first-half while in the second-half they suffered actualizing a positional defence. Inzaghi and the whole team are now thinking about the last game of the UEFA Champions League group stage. On Tuesday, Lazio will need a draw to qualify to the last 16.