Lazio-Juve, duels on the pitch: tactical analysis

The sprint of Zaccagni and Kostic, the imagination of Luis Alberto and Di Maria, but the goals of Immobile and Vlahovic will weigh above all. At the Olimpico here is the super match between the biancocelesti and the bianconeri

Their stories are connected much more than you think. And yes, because Zaccagni is at Lazio thanks to Kostic. The Serbian from Juventus, in the summer of 2021, was long courted by the Biancoceleste team. Sarri had indicated him as the right full-back for his 4-3-3 formation. The deal fell through due to a series of misunderstandings with Eintracht and in the end Lazio turned to Zaccagni. A plan B which, in light of what the former Verona player is up to, proved to be at least worthy of plan A. But even the latter, given Kostic’s performance with Juve, wasn’t so bad. The difference Tonight at the Olimpico they will both try to confirm the good things they are doing this season. For Lazio is the best ever. Above all, the goals, 9, all in the league certify it. He sees up close that double digit that he has never even touched in his career. But Kostic’s numbers aren’t all bad either. On the contrary. In the league, the Serbian scored 3 goals and packed 8 assists, which has always been his specialty. Assists that even become 11, adding up the three made in the cups. Allegri used him in 42 of the 43 seasonal matches against Juve (making him miss only the eighth of the Italian Cup with Monza). And if he never gives up on him there will be a reason. But, beyond the numbers, Zaccagni and Kostic are the type of player capable of changing the course of a game. With a snap, an invention, a play, a goal or an assist. This is what they will try to do again tonight at the Olimpico.

At the end of last season, the Serie A scorers ranking read: Ciro Immobile 27 and Dusan Vlahovic 24. First and second among Italy’s strikers, a challenge that lasted until the last day of the championship. Now the situation is very different: both Lazio and Juventus are out of the top positions and are below 10 in the league. Immobile is tenth with 9 hits, Vlahovic is twelfth with one goal less. For tutti e due it has been a season so far heavily conditioned by injuries and performance has inevitably suffered as a result. The Lazio striker hasn’t played in the league for over a month (Napoli-Lazio) and hasn’t even scored at the Olimpico in Serie A since September. It is one of Maurizio Sarri’s doubts on the eve of the crossing with the Lady, but the ballot with Pedro hangs a lot on the side of Ciro. Because even if the centre-forward with a past in the Juventus youth sector has never scored so little, Lazio need him to keep themselves so high. No one knows better than Immobile how to disorient opposing defenses, even when he’s not in top physical condition. He has already scored 6 goals against the Bianconeri, who are not among his favorite victims, including the very precious brace in the Super Cup won in 2017. against Salernitana two months ago. Since then, the Serbian has found the goal only once, in the Europa League against Freiburg, and from a penalty. “I have to decide whether to let him play,” Allegri said in the pre-match conference, and in fact Dusan in recent days seemed destined more for the bench than for the field. Allegri, however, seems intent on trusting him, deploying him alongside Di Maria. Against Inter in the Italian Cup he was one of the worst on the pitch, against Lazio, in which he has scored 4 times in 6 games so far, he is looking for a crisis-busting goal. A bit like Immobile, who wants to restart celebrating in front of his fans.

The Latins said that virtue lies in the middle and Lazio and Juventus know something about it. There are two players their respective coaches would never be without in midfield and they are Sergej Milinkovic and Adrien Rabiot. Because, to put it in Massimiliano Allegri’s words, that he has a soft spot for the second but would have loved to be able to train the first too (and who knows that won’t happen in the future) they have a different engine. The Serbian and the French are not two midfielders like the others. They are all-rounders who lack for nothing, they have inches, muscles, quality and tactical intelligence. Different in game characteristics, however, they are similar in the impact they manage to have on their teams. It will not be a coincidence that all the technicians they have had have always let them play. Milinkovic has long been a market target for Juventus and Allegri would make false cards to bring him to Turin, but so far dealing with Lotito has always been very difficult (not to mention bordering on the impossible). Not that the games are over yet, but at this point the Sergeant’s future in black and white is closely linked to that of Rabiot, Max’s protégé who has an expiring contract and several suitors after the excellent season he is having. Allegri would like to keep him, Juve will try but it won’t be easy, in the event of a farewell the new attack on the Serbian could start, who is not so obvious that he will remain at Lazio for another year. Diversity In the meantime, both will try to break the balance of a match that will be played above all on defences. Milinkovic, who has already scored 7 goals this season (2 less than Rabiot) has the intuition and the class to be able to invent something at any time: vertical play is his specialty, combined with the ability to move in straits. Adrien can break the game with his accelerations and become dangerous with his insertions. Allegri had to do without him against Verona because he was suspended and can’t wait to give him back his permanent position as left midfielder.

Fantasy in power. The one guaranteed by the tightrope walkers of Lazio and Juve, Luis Alberto and Angel Di Maria. So different, in terms of career and position on the field, yet so equal in terms of the specific weight they have for their clubs. When they are there (in the sense that, in addition to being on the pitch, they are also inspired) everything becomes easier for their respective teams. Conversely, when they are in the day they don’t risk becoming a burden. The Spaniard Luis Alberto was in the first part of the season, also due to some misunderstandings with Sarri. Since he turned around, from January onwards, Lazio has taken off, climbing positions in the standings up to second place. He invented, as only he knows how to do, but he also guaranteed a contribution to the defensive phase that he had never previously dispensed enough, driving the coach to despair. And then he scored (5 goals so far) and assisted (3). He will try to repeat himself tonight against Juve, which is the only big league in Serie A against which he has never scored. Until three months ago it was a sort of separate house waiting to be placed. Now he is more than ever in the center of Lazio. And Sarri won’t give up on him anymore. The Argentine Allegri also never does without someone like Di Maria, except when he is forced by injuries. Situation that has often occurred in the first part of the season. And the absence of the Argentine was felt. Then, after the World Cup triumph, he rediscovered a minimum of continuity, even if he alternated between matches that he won alone (above all the one in Nantes, which he decided with a fantastic hat-trick). Or, simply, matches in which, while showing his enormous qualities, he failed to leave his mark. As happened a month ago at the Olimpico against Roma. Tonight he returns to the same stadium with decidedly different intentions in a challenge which, without penalties, would see the second and third teams of the championship facing each other. A cartel match, the kind Di Maria likes.