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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

December 5, 2021: Sampdoria Lazio 1-3

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

A devastating first 45-minute attacking display by Lazio put the game out of Sampdoria's reach in the first half.






The season so far


The main change at Lazio was the arrival of Maurizio Sarri as head coach. He took over from long-serving Simone Inzaghi who had left for Inter. Former Empoli, Napoli, Chelsea and Juventus coach, Sarri brought a radically different style of play and favoured the 4-3-3 formation.


In had also come Albanian defender Elsaid Hysaj, Croatian midfielder Toma Basic and forwards Mattia Zaccagni and Pedro (from Roma...). Lazio had also seen the return of popular former player Felipe Anderson and the arrival of promising 16 year-old Luka Romero (tagged by some as yet another new Messi). Leaving Lazio were defenders Wesley Hoedt and Mohammed Fares plus midfielder Andreas Pereira and forward Joaquin Correa. Lazio also sadly lost Felipe Caicedo (Genoa) and club legends Marco Parolo and Senad Lulic due to retirement.


Lazio had some problems adapting to the new tactical vision and big victories (Roma and Inter) were balanced by defeats (Juventus, Napoli and Milan) plus heavy unexpected collapses (Bologna and Verona). Lazio were on 22 points, already well off the front-runners.


Sampdoria had arrived 9th the previous season and had substituted manager Claudio Ranieri with Massimo D'Aversa from Parma. In had come former Lazio midfielder Antonio Candreva, defender Nicola Murru and forward Francesco Caputo. Leaving Genova were midfielder Gaston Ramirez and Jakub Jankto plus another former Lazio forward Keita Balde. At this stage of the season Sampdoria were struggling on 15 points.


The match: Sunday, December 5, Genoa, Stadio Luigi Ferraris


A 6 o'clock start on a dark December evening, the game was played in front of a fairly sparse crowd by two teams having difficulty in finding any consistency. It was Lazio however who came out with a more positive and attacking approach and they took the lead after only 7 minutes. A flowing move and a precise pass across the area by Zaccagni put Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in an ideal position to drive a powerful low left-footed strike past keeper Audero.


The second goal came just 10 minutes later and was classic opportunism and quick thinking by Ciro Immobile. Zaccagni tried to dribble his way into the area but fell to the ground just outside and, while everyone was wondering whether he had been tripped, the ball trickled through to Immobile who stabbed the ball past Emil Audero.


Lazio were 2-0 up but showed no intention of taking their foot off the pedal. Immobile almost made it 3-0 with a header well saved by Audero but didn't have to wait long for his brace. Again an excellent move by Lazio with Milinkovic-Savic putting a through ball into the box which Immobile let float past the defender before hammering a right foot into the opposite corner. After only 37 minutes the game was virtually already won.


The second half did inevitably see Sampdoria push forward more with some attacking spirit. The Norwegian midfielder Morten Thorsby came close with a good effort saved by Thomas Strakosha and Sampdoria had several headers just off target.


The game was made slightly more complicated for Lazio in the 67th minute when Milinkovic-Savic was sent off for a fairly run of the mill foul punished with a yellow card, but it was followed by a red for unnecessary dissent. The match was definitely one-way traffic from then on, but luckily for Lazio the hosts did not get on the score sheet until the 89th minute with Manolo Gabbiadini. It was too little too late, although they did almost get a second in injury time, again with Gabbiadini, whose shot was well stopped by Strakosha.


A good away win for Lazio all thanks to those sparkling first 45 minutes. The second half was more of defensive tactics and suffering but the game had practically been won, so a less audacious approach was perhaps understandable.


Who played for Sampdoria


Audero, Bereszynski (67' Yoshida), Ferrari (46' Dragusin), Chabot, Augello, Candreva (85' Ciervo), Ekdal, Thorsby, Verre (46' Silva), Gabbiadini, Quagliarella (46' Caputo).

Substitutes: Falcone, Ravaglia, De Paoli, Murru, Askildsen, Trimboli, Yepes.

Manager: D'Aversa.


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Reina, Adamonis, Radu, Vavro, Akpa Akpro, Escalante, Luis Alberto, Moro

Manager: Sarri


Referee: Fabbri


Goals: 7' Milinkovic-Savic, 17' Immobile, 37' Immobile, 89' Gabbiadini





What happened next


Lazio would continue their problems adapting to the new game plan, although they did find more continuity in the second half of the season. They ended up in 5th Place on 64 points, 1 point ahead of rivals Roma, with a Europa League qualification. In the current tournament they would go out against former Lazio Sergio Conceição's Porto from Portugal.


Sampdoria continued their negative season. In January they sacked D'Aversa and took on Marco Giampaolo and, after being bogged down in the relegation battle for long periods, did eventually end up safe on 36 points, in 15th place.


The 2021-22 season would be won by Milan ahead of city rivals Inter.


Lazio 2021-2022

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals Scored

Serie A

38

18

10

10

77

Coppa Italia

2

1

0

1

1

Europa League

8

2

4

2

10

Total

48

21

14

13

88

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

Felipe Anderson

48

38

2

8

Milinkovic-Savic

47

37

2

8

Leiva

45

35

2

8

Luis Alberto

44

34

2

8

Cataldi

42

32

2

8

Top five goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

Immobile

39

27

1

4

Milinkovic-Savic

11

11

-

-

Pedro

10

9

-

1

Felipe Anderson

7

6

-

1

Luis Alberto

5

5

-

-

Zaccagni

5

4

-

1

Let's talk about Thomas Strakosha


Thomas Fotaq Strakosha was born in Athens, Greece, on March 15, 1995.


Thomas Strakosha

He is of Albanian nationality and his father Foto also played as a goalkeeper. He was in fact born in Greece as his father was playing for Olimpiacos at the time. Thomas is a product of the Panionios youth sector and in 2012 he joined Lazio for € 75,000. In his first season in Rome he played for the “Primavera” (under 19's) and they won the league. In 2012-13 he was promoted to the first team squad but was 3rd choice behind Federico Marchetti and Albano Bizzarri. In the 2013-14 season he was again 3rd choice behind Marchetti and fellow Albanian Etrit Berisha. In July 2014 his contract was extended until 2019 and he was loaned out to Salernitana in Serie B for a year. He was supposed to gain experience but only played 11 times for the “Campania” club and returned to the capital for the 2015-16 season.


This time round Strakosha got his long awaited chance as Berisha had moved to Atalanta and Marchetti had suffered an injury. In September 2016 Strakosha finally made his debut away to Milan. Lazio were defeated 2-O but he made several good saves and was unanimously praised for his performance, even by the legendary keeper Dino Zoff. A week later at home to Empoli he kept his first clean sheet in a 2-0 win. He played 21 times that season and his contract was renewed until 2022.


The 2017-18 season saw Strakosha start as the undisputed first choice keeper and he won his first silverware as Lazio defeated Juventus 3-2 in a dramatic Italian Super Cup Final. It was again versus Juventus a couple of months later, on October 14, 2018, that he had one of his finest hours, saving a 97th minute injury time penalty by Paolo Dybala, giving Lazio a 2-1 away victory. It should be remembered that Juventus had not lost on home soil since 2015. He had a good season and was named best young goalkeeper of Serie A.


In 2018-19 and 2019-20 he would play 35 and 38 games respectively. The 2019-20 season was particularly special and saw Lazio challenge for the title until the COVID-19 crisis interrupted the league and Lazio's momentum, destroying the scudetto dream.


The 2020-21 season saw the arrival of experienced veteran Pepe Reina (former Liverpool, Bayern, Napoli and Milan) who would soon overturn the goalkeeping hierarchy, also due to a string of errors by Strakosha who ended up playing only 9 times.


The following season 2021-22, with the arrival of new coach Maurizio Sarri, who favoured the sweeper style keeper, he again started as second in the pecking order behind Reina. He did however win back his place after a Reina loss of form, despite a memorable howler by Strakosha himself in a Europa League game away to Galatasaray in Istanbul. A seemingly innocuous high cross which could either have been caught or simply tipped over the bar was inexplicably pushed into his own net by Strakosha, a comical error which cost Lazio the match. He did however recover his confidence to play 23 games that season but there was a feeling that Lazio and Strakosha both needed a change. His contract expired in the summer and was not renewed.


After rumours of him joining Fulham, he did end up in London, but a bit further west, at Brentford. At 27 Strakosha would start a new adventure and experience in the English Premier League. He debuted in Premier on October 7, 2023, in the game at Old Trafford against Manchester United.


At Lazio he played 208 games (164 in Serie A, 15 in Coppa Italia, 1 in Champions League, 26 in Europa League and two Super Coppa finals) and won the Coppa Italia twice (Roma 2013 in the squad and Atalanta 2019 as a protagonist) and 2 Italian Super Coppas (both against Juventus 2017 and 2019).


At International level Strakosha has played for Albania at all age levels and from 2017 has earned 19 full caps for the National side.


Strakosha's experience with Lazio was a mixed one really. He was never completely accepted by the fans. He was indisputably an excellent shot stopper, quick and agile and difficult to beat from the long range. He was however prone to mistakes and at 1.93 in height should have a better command claiming high crosses and corners. He was often reluctant to come off his line or when he did was hesitant, being left in no-man's land. He was not impeccable with his feet either and with Lazio's style of play, especially with Sarri, his weakness was often exposed. He is however a goalkeeper with good technique and made some memorable saves at Lazio, contributing actively to 3 Cup triumphs but his inconsistency never won him the love of the Lazio fans.


They probably wish him well at Brentford as he was part of the Lazio family for so long but he will not be particularly missed. However, on his last appearance, against Verona in May 2022, in a packed Olympic stadium there were farewell tears and a lap of honour for him and Lucas Leiva.


Appearances for Lazio

Season

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Europa League

Super Coppa

2016-17

25

21

4

-

-

-

2017-18

53

38

4

-

10

1

2018-19

44

35

5

-

4

-

2019-20

44

38

1

-

4

1

2020-21

11

9

1

1

-

-

2021-22

31

23

-

-

8

-

Totals

208

164

15

1

26

2

Sources


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