It will’ve taken an optimistic Lazio fan to foretell that the step as much as Champions League soccer would look as easy as this.
Issues haven’t precisely been straightforward for the Roman membership of their first marketing campaign within the competitors for 13 years, as accidents and constructive coronavirus checks left them with depleted choices for away journeys to Membership Brugge and Zenit Saint Petersburg.
However Tuesday’s dominant, swashbuckling 3-1 victory over Zenit left the Biancocelesti tantalisingly near the Champions League knockout rounds.
It’s a stage they’ve solely graced as soon as of their historical past, through the Scudetto-winning 1999/00 season.
There may be now a four-point hole between Lazio in second and Membership Brugge in third in Group F, that means one win shall be sufficient for the Aquile from their remaining two group video games away to Borussia Dortmund and at residence in opposition to the Belgians. They won’t even want that a lot.
The win over the Russians makes Lazio unbeaten in 4 Champions League video games – additionally for the primary time in 20 years – and stretched their total run with out defeat to eight matches.
The arrogance and management of Tuesday’s win over Zenit prompt one thing extra necessary than any figures can present although: Lazio have their swagger again.
Simone Inzaghi’s aspect have been knocked sideways by the coronavirus-enforced break on the finish of final season, fighting a packed fixture schedule as their Scudetto push collapsed.
The sudden and surprising deterioration of their home type resulted in criticism of the membership’s squad depth, one thing that they regarded to deal with within the switch market over the summer season.
Whereas it’s nonetheless early within the season, the proof thus far suggests the operation has been successful.
Inzaghi has needed to take care of accidents to Thomas Strakosha, Stefan Radu, Luiz Felipe, Manuel Lazzari, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Lucas Leiva, Luis Alberto, Senad Lulic, Gonzalo Escalante and Ciro Motionless amongst others this season, typically lots of them concurrently.
He travelled to Brugge with solely 13 first-team gamers obtainable. He’s been with out his star striker, captain, greatest midfielders and first-choice defence and goalkeeper.
However the coach has realized the teachings of final season, when he struggled to successfully rotate his squad. It’s straightforward to neglect that Inzaghi continues to be simply 44 and that is in his first teaching job, and solely his fifth full season. He’s nonetheless figuring issues out and developing in opposition to new challenges.
What is really spectacular is that Lazio have managed to come back by way of such a tumultuous interval not simply unscathed, however improved.
They’ve stored the outcomes ticking over in Serie A to remain inside six factors of first place, and put themselves inside touching distance of their European goal.
Final season’ exceptional 21-match unbeaten run wasn’t at all times about blowing groups away. It was typically the reward of a profitable mentality and an unshakeable perception that the outcome would come even when they needed to wait till the ultimate minute.
Lazio have proved during the last two months that this combating spirit has gone nowhere, and Inzaghi has virtually acquired his full squad again collectively now forward of a friendlier-looking run of league video games in opposition to Udinese, Spezia, Verona and Benevento.
His workforce had its tail up in opposition to Zenit, dripping with confidence in a way we haven’t seen for the reason that peak of their 2019/20 type. It’s a sight that might strike concern into the hearts of their Serie A rivals.