Three takeaways from Lazio 1-1 Atletico Madrid: Provedel emerges as unlikely hero, Sarri’s defence still needs work

Lazio provided the drama on Tuesday in the Champions League with goalkeeper Ivan Provedel's late equaliser at home to Atletico Madrid, but there are still major defensive issues for Maurizio Sarri to address.

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Lazio opened their 2023/24 Champions League campaign with a dramatic 1-1 draw at home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday evening, and Ivan Provedel emerged as the unlikely hero for the Aquile as he grabbed the equaliser with the last touch of the match.

The Group E fixture was expected to be a tough encounter for the Biancocelesti, pitting the possession football of Maurizio Sarri against the dogged defending of Atleti coach Diego Simeone.

It seemed that Lazio’s possession play was going to count for little, but a goal from the least likely of sources earned the Serie A club a valuable point.

Ivan Provedel heads in for Lazio against Atletico Madrid. [@OfficialSSLazio]

Provedel becomes first goalkeeper since Enyeama to score in the Champions League

It seemed that things were not going to go right for Provedel when Pablo Barrios put the ball into the net after the shot took a deflection off Lazio midfielder Daichi Kamada in the 29th minute. Although Atletico Madrid were not attacking the Aquile in waves, the Spaniards were quick on the break and effective on the ball.

The Biancocelesti goalkeeper remained alert throughout the match, making some key saves, and then came that moment of desperation. In the dying minutes of the game, he went up for a corner that was not cleared properly. Play went on while his teammates were shouting for a penalty, but Luis Alberto supplied a delightful ball into the penalty area, and Provedel timed his run to perfection to score with a header.

Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel celebrates scoring in the Champions League. (Photo: Getty)

According to Opta, this was the first time since Vincent Enyeama converted a penalty in Hapoel Tel Aviv’s 3-1 defeat to Olympique Lyon in 2010/11 that a goalkeeper has scored in the Champions League, but Provedel’s effort is arguably more memorable and remarkable because he scored in open play.

The 29-year-old was voted the best goalkeeper in the 2022/23 season by Lega Serie A after keeping 21 clean sheets and with this goal against Atletico Madrid, he has displayed a skill that nobody knew he had.

Sarri must address defensive woes at Lazio

Although Sarri is one of football’s idealists, Lazio last season were built on the back of a reliable defence, marshalled admirably by Alessio Romagnoli and Nicolo Casale as well as Provedel providing extra protection in goal.

Historically, the Biancocelesti have a poor record conceding goals in the Champions League, failing to keep a clean sheet in their last 20 matches in the competition, surpassing city rivals AS Roma with 19 for the Italian record according to Opta. The last time they did not concede a goal in Europe’s premier club competition was in 2003, when they defeated Turkish giants Besiktas 2-0.

After this draw in Europe and losing three out of four games in Serie A, Sarri needs his defence to provide some much-needed security if they are to recapture some winning form.

Atletico Madrid grind out draw without notable absentees

Atletico Madrid’s Pablo Barrios celebrates in the Champions League against Lazio. (@atletienglish)

Under normal circumstances, it would be easy to assume that Simeone would set his team up to defend against Lazio and stifle them from playing, but the Atleti tactician had to do it without a number of key players.

The Spanish club were missing defender Caglar Soyuncu, midfielders Rodrigo De Paul, Vitolo, Koke, and Thomas Lemar, and forward Memphis Depay due to injuries. Despite this, Los Colchoneros did well to hold on until injury time until Provedel broke their resistance at the end.

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