The day after Sami Khedira and Gonzalo Higuain shot the Bianconeri to a 2-1 win over Fiorentina, Lazio were involved in an exhilarating Serie A curtain-raiser of their own against Atalanta. The seven-goal thriller would turn out to be the highest-scoring affair of the weekend in Italy’s top tier by some distance and one which ultimately saw the Biancocelesti take three valuable points back to Rome.
Lazio in the spotlight
Goals by Ciro Immobile, Wesley Hoedt and Cristiano Lombardi enabled the visitors to establish a commanding 3-0 half-time lead – one they risked squandering when Franck Kessié’s quickfire brace reduced the margin of victory to just one goal. Danilo Cataldi’s 89th minute strike had looked to settle matters for Simone Inzaghi’s men, but they were left hanging on nervously to the win after Andrea Petagna netted in injury time, resulting in an exciting 4-3 scoreline.
Juventus’ business in the transfer window has been much reported and understandably so given the scale of signings made in Miralem Pjanic, Dani Alves, Medhi Benatia, Marko Pjaca and Gonzalo Higuain, with Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata making high-profile moves away from Turin in the process.
Regarding Lazio’s movements this summer, there’s a familiar face spearheading their new-look attack with former Bianconero Immobile leading the line. The 26-year-old Italy international signed from Sevilla in the summer and opened his Biancocelesti account at the first time of asking in Sunday’s 4-3 win over Atalanta.
Lazio youth academy product Lombardi was partnering Immobile up front in Bergamo in what was his very first Serie A outing, the 21-year-old also finding the net on the evening, having returned to Rome following loan spells with Trapani and Ancona.
Simone Inzaghi has done much to bolster the Biancocelesti’s defence over the summer with left-back Jordan Lukaku arriving from Belgian outfit Oostende and centre-backs Wallace and Bastos joining from Braga and Rostov respectively. Lukaku and Wallace both featured against Atalanta, the former getting a full 90 minutes under his belt.
Meanwhile in the middle of the park, Moritz Leitner has put pen to paper on a move from Borussia Dortmund, with Lazio’s midfield undoubtedly their most settled department from last term, Lucas Biglia, Marco Parolo and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic all starting in Bergamo.
The Bianconeri have the upper hand in top flight matches against Lazio, both in general (W76, D36, L32) and at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome (W30, D18, L24). The Biancocelesti have netted only once and picked up just the solitary point in Juve’s last seven Serie A visits to the capital, while the champions have made a habit of scoring in each of their most recent 11 Olimpico outings (18 goals in total). The last time they failed to find the target was in December 2003 – also Lazio’s most recent home victory in the league over the Old Lady.
Immobile is just one of three players of the current Juventus and Lazio sides to have represented both clubs. Stephan Lichtsteiner spent three years on the Biancocelesti books, scoring three goals in 100 league appearances before making the move north to Turin in 2011.
Meanwhile, Bianconeri midfielder Hernanes lit up Lazio’s midfield with 33 strikes in 118 Serie A games between the summer of 2010 and January 2014. The Brazilian has already netted three times against his former team in as many matches, all of which while playing for Inter.
Last Sunday’s win over Atalanta means that Simone Inzaghi has won five and lost three of his eight fixtures at the Lazio helm since taking over reins at the back end of last season. One of those defeats came at the hands of Juventus – a 3-0 win for the Old Lady in Turin – in what represents the only previous match-up between Inzaghi and Massimiliano Allegri.
The former Cagliari and Milan coach’s Serie A record against Saturday’s opponents reads W7, D4, L4 and he boasts a 100 per cent record over Lazio in all competitions whilst in charge of the champions. Allegri made his managerial debut in Italy’s top tier against the Biancocelesti, who beat Cagliari 4-1 on the day back in August 2008.