This time last year, Lazio were forced to set off on the road to recovery after their planning had been thrown into complete disarray thanks to the non-arrival of world-renowned Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa.
His decision to abandon Le Aquile in their hour of need effectively forced club president Claudio Lotito to promote 41-year-old Simone Inzaghi from his role with the Primavera side to one of the most high-pressure jobs in Italian football.
Combined with the arrival of several players with their own point to prove – including former Torino and Sevilla striker Ciro Immobile – 2016 ended up being one of Lazio’s most successful summers in recent history.
Inzaghi has deservedly earned himself a reputation as one of Europe’s brightest young coaches, and he has already been mentioned as a possible successor to Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus.
Key to Inzaghi’s success so far has been his ability to reignite the goalscoring form of the aforementioned Immobile, who had endured some tough times at both Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla.
He arrived in Rome low on confidence, but determined to rediscover the form that saw him crowned Capocannoniere back in 2013/14. Slowly but surely, he has managed to achieve just that and is now arguably in the form of his life playing as the lone centre-forward.
Attacking midfield duo Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinković-Savić are proving to be the perfect decoys for Immobile, providing him with plenty of ammunition in and around the penalty box.
Their intelligent movement – both with and without the ball – gives the Torre Annunziata native the platform to lead the line with the self-assurance that comes with being his team’s focal point.
Repaying the faith
Concurrently, he is now repaying the faith shown in him by Lazio on a weekly basis, as it has now reached the point where it is surprising if and when he does fail to get his name on the scoresheet.
With 13 goals to his name already this season – three more than Paulo Dybala and four more than Mauro Icardi – he has already established an impressive lead in the race to be crowned Capocannoniere (for the second time in his career) this season.
Sitting comfortably in the top four and a mere three points behind leaders Napoli after nine rounds, there is no reason why Lazio should not consider themselves serious contenders to break Juventus’ six-year dominance of Serie A.
In Ciro, I Biancocelesti have a striker with all the attributes required to be more than a mere nuisance to the so-called bigger sides.
The sky is very much the limit for this group of players and, with a player of Immobile’s prowess leading the charge, they need not fear anyone right now. There is no doubt, Lazio mean business.
Written by Jordan Russell
Follow Jordan on Twitter @JordRuss96
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