Juventus
    20.01.2016 11:00 - in: Coppa Italia S

    Biancocelesti beneath the microscope

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    Ahead of the Bianconeri’s cup match in the capital, Juventus.com investigates their opponents’ home form, tactical setup and men to beware
    Home comforts and concerns

    The fact that Lazio have the seventh best home record in the league this term scarcely tells half the story of their season so far.

    After opening with five consecutive wins at the Stadio Olimpico (against Bologna, Udinese, Genoa, Frosinone and Torino), in which they scored 11 times and conceded only once, they have taken just three points from the following five fixtures in front of their supporters, drawing against Palermo, Sampdoria and Carpi and losing to Milan and Juventus. In addition, they fell to defeat in the first derby of the season, played at the same stadium, against inter-city rivals Roma.

    Lazio have the seventh best home record in Serie A this season.

    In adding just three goals to their total tally in the capital this term (14), the Biancocelesti have slid to 11th place in this season’s standings for strikes on home turf.

    In other departments, however, Stefano Pioli’s men continue to perform significantly better than the Serie A average:

    Turning attentions to their Coppa Italia last-16 win in December over Udinese, Lazio put in an even more commanding display than usual, boasting the lion’s share of possession (68.31 per cent), creating 15 goalscoring opportunities and fashioning nine shots on target.

    From a defensive standpoint, they may have made fewer tackles (6) and interceptions (16) as they have normally done in the league, but that was also largely down to the visitors’ distinct lack of threat going forwards, as is evident in the heatmap below:

    Udinese (right) only managed four touches in Lazio's penalty area, in contrast to the 34 times that the Biancocelesti saw the ball in the opposition box.

    On the continent, meanwhile, Biancocelesti supporters have reason to be optimistic ahead of their team’s double-header against Galatasaray in the next round of the Europa League, having secured maximum points from and scored three goals in each of their group games played in the capital (against Saint-Etienne, Rosenborg and Dnipropetrovsk).

    Formational transformation

    So far this term, Stefano Pioli has predominantly set up his side in a 4-2-3-1 formation with varying success. While it bore fruit with a number of wins early on in the campaign, its effect seemingly wore off during the winter months, leading the 50-year-old coach to change tack and increasingly deploy a more offensive-minded 4-3-3.

    1 November 2015: Lazio lose 3-1 at home to Milan. The Biancocelesti (left) touched the ball only eight times in the Rossoneri box: just half of what their visitors managed.

    The transformation has yielded fine results of late, including prestigious away victories at Inter and Fiorentina and the cup win at home to Udinese. While draws with Carpi and Bologna have been less encouraging, it would appear likely that Pioli persist with the formation for a sixth successive game.

    9 January 2016: Lazio triumph 3-1 away to Fiorentina, posing a far greater threat in the opposition penalty area (16 touches) than two months prior against Milan.
    The danger men

    The 4-3-3 formation adopted of late by Pioli would appear to have rejuvenated Lazio’s wide forwards, Felipe Anderson and Antonio Candreva. The Brazilian had endured a lengthy barren run in all competitions since his brace against Torino on 25 October, but has recently rediscovered his shooting boots, netting against Udinese and Fiorentina respectively.

    Candreva too has hit form of late, downing Inter with a brace at the San Siro before firing the first of Lazio’s two goals at Bologna last Sunday.

    Away in Florence, Lazio (right) launched almost half of their attacks down their right flank, where Antonio Candreva was a constant menace throughout the 90 minutes.

    Moving into the centre of attack, Alessandro Matri played 85 minutes and scored in the last round of the Coppa Italia against Udinese, and could well be handed a starting berth against his former club, with whom he celebrated the winner against his current outfit in last year’s final.

    The 31-year-old Lombard will be fighting for his place up front with Filip Djordjevic, the Serb having been preferred in the last two matches in Florence and Bologna, and Miroslav Klose, who set up both of his side’s goals in their latest outing.

    Stefano Pioli has three centre-forwards vying for a starting berth: Matri (left), Klose (centre) and Djordjevic (right).

    Other players that Juve’s defensive unit will need to be wary of are Keita Balde and Lucas Biglia. The former has kept Anderson out of the starting line-up on several occasions this season and was on target at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on 9 January.

    Meanwhile, Biancocelesti captain Biglia has already struck four times from midfield in all competitions during 2015/16.

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