Facing Atletico Madrid at the Estadio Metropolitano is no easy task. Yet, on several occasions, Lazio made things much more difficult than they had to be in their final Champions League group game, and this showed in the full-time scoreline as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat.
It took just five minutes for the Spanish outfit to put themselves on the scoresheet – doing so through Antoine Griezmann, who lost his marker and finished without any worries. The Biancolesti had the game put beyond their grasp when Samuel Lino struck a volley past Ivan Provedel.
Given that both sides had already progressed into the Round of 16 stage of the Champions League, there was nothing much at stake in the final game of Champions League Group E – aside from who finished the group as leaders.
Lazio need to improve away from Rome
This section’s headline would be equally apt without the final three words of the subheading above. The 2023/24 season has been mediocre for Lazio, sitting 10th in Serie A. Yes, they have progressed in the Champions League, but this was expected, with all due to Feyenoord and Celtic.
However, away from the Stadio Olimpico, they have been especially poor. They won just one of their three away games in the Champions League, whilst in Serie A, they have won twice, drawn once, and lost five times on the road.
The Olimpico is a massive asset to the Aquile. But the gap between the side playing there and not is currently too large, and if Maurizio Sarri‘s side is to move forward, they need to improve on the road.
The need for more variation in Lazio’s attacks
Atletico are, and have been, one of the best defensive sides in Europe for years now. However, Lazio did very little to try and disprove that theory. On Wednesday, they only created 0.79 xG, compared to Atleti’s 1.32.
There was a period when Sarri‘s side seemed to be getting a foot back into the game. Yet, ultimately, nothing worked and there didn’t seem to be an alternate plan, or anything close to one, to try and challenge Diego Simeone‘s side.
Defensive improvements are required
Officially, Atelti scored two due to Mario Hermoso‘s goal in the 32nd minute being ruled out. However, this was not the result of some excellent off-side trap executed by the Biancolesti, but rather, them getting lucky.
The game’s opening goal was simply due to Lazio falling asleep after clearing the ball. Matteo Guendouzi did not challenge Samuel Lino, who drove down the line and cut the ball back to an unmarked Griezmann.
Antoine Griezmann, one of the most prolific forwards in Europe currently, was left unmarked. Lazio paid the price.
Hermoso‘s offside goal was similar. A cross came in, and the Spaniard was left without a marker as he arrived in the area. Had Lino not been in front of Provedel, the goal would’ve counted, and the visitors would have looked very silly.
The third goal? Again, marking is partly at fault. Rodrigo De Paul’s original ball into the box was not dealt with, and the resulting cross reached a, you guessed it, unmarked Lino, who played a 1-2 with Memphis Depay before volleying home, rounding off a very good performance for the Brazilian.
Ultimately, for a side now in the final 16, such basic errors have to be eliminated from their defensive game – if they are to continue to progress past this stage.