Lazio hosted Bologna in game week 26 of Serie A, Luis Alberto scored one goal and created another for Joaquin Correa, as the Biancocelesti became league leaders for the first time in the second half of the season in twenty years.
Inzaghi’s team put the visiting side under immense pressure in the first half: in fact, three minutes of football separated the above goals which in the end were enough to see off a brave Bologna. The reaction of the Rossoblùs in the second half would please Mihajlović, as the visitors had two goals canceled by VAR .
This tactical analysis aims to break down both teams’ tactics and show how Mihajlović was able to put the Lazio defence under significant difficulty, both in open play and through the set piece. We will also cover Lazio’s attacking phase and how we feel Bologna could have improved in transition.
Lazio set up in their familiar 3-5-2 formation. Inzaghi’s side were covered by Thomas Strakosha in goal and Ştefan Radu, Luiz Felipe and Patric as the back-three. Jony played as a left wing-back accompanied by Luis Alberto, Lucas Leiva, Sergej Milinković-Savić and Manuel Lazarri in the midfield. The strike partnership consisted of Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa.
Siniša Mihajlović on the other hand lined up in the 3-4-2-1 formation with Skorupski in goal, getting the support of the returning Denswil, Bani and Danilo in defence. The midfield area was covered by Tomiyasu, Poli, Schouten and Barrow. Soriano and Orsolini flanked Palacio who spearheaded the Bologna attack.
Bologna’s success in destabilising the Lazio defensive unit
Simone Inzaghi opted to rotate his core defensive unit from last weeks game at Genoa, opting to partner Stefan Radu with Luiz Felipe in the heart of the defensive three and Patric on the right. Mihajlović’s side capitalised on these changes and despite not scoring managed to put the unsettled unit under significant amounts of pressure.
The lack of a leader in the heart of the defence clearly had the biancocelesti rattled, in the above image the marking inside the box is as you would expect from any well drilled unit with defenders being touch tight to their opposite man. However the second line of defence (Leiva and Jony) are putting Poli under no pressure, allowing him to deliver a pass easily into the box.
Lazio really struggled aerially against Bologna, the visitors come away from the game with five more successes in the air than the home team. The above image shows how Lazio’s defensive unit ball watching, with all defenders looking at Palacio rather than reading the game. Patric has his back turned allowing Soriano to make a run off him and Radu has his spacing all wrong. Mihajlović clearly had instructed his side during the game to play off their target man, noticing Lazio’s inefficiency to deal with the second ball.
The above image again highlights the lack of composure in the defensive phase, here Lazio have five defenders bunched up after partially clearing a Bologna corner, allowing Palacio to pick his pass into their box. The defensive line clearly lacking a vocal presence to ensure the line exit the box as quickly as possible. With the game against free scoring Atalanta around the corner Inzaghi will surely be hoping that his defensive leader Acerbi will be fit to play, bringing his vocal and aerial dominance to the back line.
Again another example of a long ball into the box causing Lazio problems, here Jony has found himself drawn into a deeper position than the rest of the defensive unit, casuing him to nearly play Palacio onside. This highlights the lack of cohesion in the side, as Jony opts to cover the run of the Bologna striker, rather than hold his position on the edge of the box and his duty of picking up Tomiyasu, who lashed the ball into the Lazio net only for VAR to come to the biancocelesti’s recue.
Bologna on inviting on attacking pressure
Bologna didn’t have the greatest start to the the game allowing Lazio to put them under significant amounts of pressure within the first 20 minutes. After analysing Mihajlović’s side during this phase of the game I have highlighted one of the main reasons for the early Lazio onslaught, Bologna backing off Lazio in the transitional phase.
When Bologna were at risk of counter their initial reaction was to retreat to the edge of their box and then build their defensive shape, opting to do this certainly did not help them to establish a foothold in the game.
Here you can see Bologna’s defence backing off Luis Alberto as they rush back towards their goal. Yes Ciro Immobile is in an advanced position and about to make a run down his channel, however you would expect either Tomiyasu or Bani to advance towards Alberto, especially taking into consideration the Spaniards ability to play a decisive pass.
Again, Danilo has opted to drop deeper than his defensive line, this allows Alberto to collect the pass from Ciro Immobile and give Lazio the lead. This momentary lapse in concentration certainly would have left Mihajlović scratching his head, I have highlighted the ideal defensive position on the above image, if Danilo was positioned here, he would have been able to close down Alberto’s shot or at least put him under greater pressure.
Bologna’s Set Piece
Bologna really were a threat from the set piece, they had five corners throughout the duration of the game and Mihajlović clearly had carried out work on the training ground in relation to ensuring his side maximised their threat from the delivery.
Bologna opted to overload the second line of attack on multiple occasions from attacking corners, providing the Rossoblù with a numerical advantage when attacking the ball. In the above image the Lazio defenders labelled one and two are overloaded at the back post, leaving a Bologna player unmarked for a free header.
Here Bologna opt to apply a similar shape to that of Gareth Southgate’s England side in the World Cup, adopting the ‘Love Train’ formation. This positioning helps the attackers to gain an advantage over the defenders by standing in a tight unit, this confuses the opposition from getting anywhere near their marker before the group splinters in different directions.
Lazio in the attacking phase
Simone Inzaghi’s side have scored seven goals this season on the counter, making them one of the most effective in Serie A with only Parma above them with eight goals. Below we take a look at how Lazio utilised their threat on the counter against Bologna.
Lazio often focus their play down the left hand side, with 39% of all play in Serie A this season coming down this flank. The above image highlights the danger Lazio possess on the counter, they have multiple attacking threats, the pace and directness of Immobile here forces Tomiyasu to continue to back off his man for the fear of being isolated. On the right flank the pace of Lazzari often ensured Lazio create an overload down the right, note Milinkovic-Savic who often breaks towards the far post, using his superior height to an advantage at winning any early crosses.
The above image shows how Lazio can manipulate space in their favour even when their opposition have a good defensive shape. Alberto has three passes available to him here against Bologna. Last week we highlighted Lazio’s default shape in attack operating in a trident. Here the biancocelesti operate in a similar shape, the Bologna defence are all drawn to the pending run of Immobile (note the body positions of both Tomiyasu and Danillo) allowing Correa and Jony to make runs down their flank pretty much unopposed.
Lazio were pretty much rewarded with the victory off the back of their opening 20 minutes of dominance in the game against Bologna. Mihajlović and his Bologna arguably deserved to take something from the game, the visitors created no fewer than 14 chances inside of the Lazio box, a figure which is one of the highest this season from any visiting team.
Despite not having one of their finest games Lazio still managed to walk away from the game with all three points and managed to secure a clean sheet. Isn’t this the mark of a champion?
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