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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

July 15, 2020: Udinese Lazio 0-0

Updated: 5 days ago

Disappointing draw confirms Lazio's withdrawal from title race


A lacklustre performance means Lazio must start looking over their shoulders to at least salvage a Champions League place


Official SS Lazio photo

The season so far


The previous season Lazio had finished 8th under Simone Inzaghi. The Biancocelesti however had triumphed in the Coppa Italia. On May 15 they had beaten Atalanta 2-0 to lift the cup for the 7th time.


This year Inzaghi had stayed on with a few changes to the squad. The main players arriving were: Slovak defender Denis Vavro (F. C. Copenhagen), Spanish winger Jony (Malaga), midfielder Manuel Lazzari (SPAL) plus young Dutch forward Bobby Adekanye (former Liverpool).


Leaving Lazio were; Serbian defender Dušan Basta after five good years (retiring), Brazilian Wallace (Braga), midfielder Milan Badelj (Fiorentina) and Romulo (Genoa - end of loan) plus two Portuguese youngsters Bruno Jordão and Pedro Neto (Wolverhampton). The sale of the latter would later be regretted as he turned out to be a useful winger. The former, despite his promising name, has not made it.


Lazio so far had a wonderful season. After an up and down start (2 wins, 2 defeats and a draw in the first five games) the Biancocelesti had improved. The turning point had been a 3-3 home draw against Atalanta when Lazio came back from 0-3 down in the last 20 minutes. They then won 11 consecutive games. They were gaining consensus as the favourites for the title.



In Europa League things had not gone so well and Lazio were eliminated in the group stage with Celtic, Cluj and Rennes after 2 wins and 4 defeats. One of the problems, and this would raise its ugly head later on, was that Lazio's new signings were disappointing, so Lazio did not have enough strength in depth.


Anyway, in Serie A Lazio seemed unstoppable, and were only one point behind Juventus, but then disaster struck and the Covid-19 crisis hit the world. On February 29 Lazio beat Bologna 2-0 at home but then would not play again until June 24, in surreal empty stadiums. Lockdown, social distancing, masks, documentation just to go shopping took over, and football and life in general were put on hold.


The league returned on June 24 but Lazio did not seem themselves and lost 3-2 away to Atalanta, despite leading 2-0. Lazio then won the next two (Fiorentina and Torino) but had then collapsed and lost the following three (Milan, Lecce and Sassuolo). Lazio were still second but the Scudetto dream had all but gone and now even a Champions League slot was at risk.


Udinese had finished 12th the previous season under three different managers (Julio Velásquez, Davide Nicola and then Igor Tudor). This year Tudor had started but was replaced by Luca Gotti after ten matches. The Friulani had begun the season well beating Milan 1-0 at home but then struggled. They were currently 14th, after 9 wins (including Roma 2-0 away a month earlier), 8 draws and 15 defeats (including Lazio 0-3). A week earlier the Bianconeri had lost 1-3 at home to Sampdoria. They were not desperate, as they had a six point cushion, but by no means safe yet and could not afford to lose many more matches.


So, two teams in difficulty with all the ingredients for a tense and tight game today.


The match: Wednesday, July 15, 2020, Dacia Arena, Udine


It was pouring with rain in Udine. Both teams were low on confidence and played with the same 3-5-2 formation and so the approach was very cautious. Lazio were still without Lucas Leiva and Adam Marusic.


Lazio were the first to come out of their shell and Manuel Lazzari was particularly active on the right. The first chance was for Lazio when Luis Alberto fed Immobile in the area, Ciro turned and shot but it ricocheted off a defender and went wide. Udinese answered with a Kevin Lasagna counterattack which then culminated with a Rodrigo De Paul shot just over the bar.


Lazzari continued to be the liveliest Lazio player and he had a powerful long range shot saved over the bar by Juan Musso. A few minutes later Luis Alberto passed to Lazzari on the right who crossed in for Immobile, but his connecting volley was central. Lazio were in control but looked tired, the ball did not circulate quickly enough to really put the home side under pressure.


The Friulani absorbed Lazio's superior ball possession and territorial dominance and tried to strike on the break. They had a good chance before halftime when Ken Sema crossed from the left to Rodrigo Becao on the far post, the Brazilian hit a close range volley but luckily did not connect perfectly, it bounced up off the ground and Thomas Strakosha saved into corner. Halftime Udinese 0 Lazio 0. A tense game of few chances with Lazio on top but lacking the pre-lockdown energy and fire.


The second half started with Lazio's defence handing Udinese several chances to score. First a messed-up exit from defence by Jony, Francesco Acerbi and Stefan Radu gave Lasagna a clear shot at goal but Luiz Felipe managed to wall it with his chest. Then a long ball out of defence saw Lasagna win a challenge with Luiz Felipe and then completely outpace him arriving in the area with only Strakosha to beat and shoot through the keeper's legs, one of which luckily deflected the ball into corner.


Udinese took courage from Lazio's mistakes and De Paul had a superb 30-metre long range shot tipped over for a corner by Strakosha. Lazio reacted but the fact that it was with a hopeful left footed Bastos effort from outside the area, which went high, shows things were not really working. Udinese then had the last chance of the game when Fofana went on a good run and left the ball to De Paul, in shooting range just outside the box, his crisp low strike however hit the outside of the post to Strakosha's right and went wide.


So a game Lazio had to win and risked losing ended up in a goalless draw. A fair result all things considered, Lazio on top in the first half and Udinese having more chances in the second. A point each which was not particularly satisfactory to either team but beggars can't be choosers at this stage of the season.


Who played for Udinese


Musso, De Maio, Nuytinck (83' Samir), Becao, Stryger Larsen, Fofana, Jajalo (45+1' Walace), De Paul, Sema (68' Ter Avest), Okaka (68' Teodorczyk), Lasagna

Substitutes: Nicolas, Perisan, Troost-Ekong, Mazzolo, Palumbo, Ballarini, Zeegelaar, Nestorovski

Manager: Gotti


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Proto, Guerrieri, Vavro, Armini, Jorge Silva, Falbo, André Anderson

Manager: S. Inzaghi


Referee: Abisso



What happened next


A week later Lazio, if there had been any doubt, definitely dropped out of the Scudetto race. The Biancocelesti lost 1-2 away to Juventus and even their 4th place was under threat. Then luckily they picked up and won three consecutive matches (Cagliari, Verona and Brescia) before losing the last one away to Napoli.


Lazio finished fourth after 24 wins, 6 draws (including both derbies 1-1) and 8 defeats. They did however qualify for the Champions League after a thirteen-year absence. Top scorer was Ciro Immobile with a record 39 goals (36 in Serie A).


The pandemic had taken away Lazio's hopes. The Lazio that returned after lockdown was no longer the seemingly unstoppable machine they had been up to late February. The fast and furious fixture list penalised Lazio's limited squad which was also struck by injury.


All in all a good season but all Laziali will forever be thinking what might have been were it not for the global health crisis that interrupted life and specifically their Scudetto dream.


Udinese the following week lost 2-1 at Napoli but then beat leaders Juventus 2-1. The Bianconeri then won two out of three of the last matches and finished 13th, ten points above the last relegation slot. Their top scorer was Lasagna with 12 goals (10 in Serie A).


The Scudetto was won by Maurizio Sarri's Juventus for their 36th title while the Serie B trap door opened for SPAL, Brescia and Lecce.


Lazio 2019-2020

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals Scored

Serie A

38

24

6

8

79

Coppa Italia

2

1

0

1

4

Europa League

6

2

-

4

6

Super Coppa

1

1

-

-

3

Total

47

28

6

13

92

Top five appearances (complete statistics)

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

Super Coppa

45

36

2

6

1

44

37

2

4

1

44

38

1

4

1

43

37

1

4

1

41

36

-

4

1

Top five goal scorers (complete statistics)

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

Super Coppa

Ciro Immobile

39

36

1

2

-

10

9

-

1

-

9

9

-

-

-

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

8

7

-

1

-

Luis Alberto

7

6

-

-

1

Let's talk about Bobby Adekanye


Omobolaji Habeeb Adekanye known as Bobby was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, on February 14, 1999. He is Dutch.


He grew up in the prestigious Ajax Amsterdam youth sector. At 12 years of age he went to the Barcelona youth set up and stayed three years. At 15 he returned to Holland and joined PSV Eindhoven for a year and then spent four years at Liverpool.


At 20 he was considered ready to move up from youth level football and in the summer of 2019 he joined Lazio. He made his debut in September in a Europa League defeat at CFR Cluj. His Serie A debut came a week later when he entered the field in the last minutes of a 4-0 home victory over Genoa. The first game he started was again against Cluj, this time in a 1-0 win. His first goal for Lazio was on February 2 2020 in a 5-1 home thumping of SPAL.


Lazio were flying at this stage and looked favourites for the Scudetto. Alas Covid 19, lockdown and a four months pause threw them off track and the relentless number of games at the re-start in the summer saw them finish 4th. They did however qualify for the Champions League after a thirteen-year absence. Adekanye made 11 league appearances with 1 goal, 1 appearance in Coppa Italia and 3 in the Europa League, under manager Simone Inzaghi. Lazio also won the Supercoppa in Riyadh beating Juventus 3-1.

In October 2020 he was loaned to Cadiz in La Liga. He played 3 league games and 2 in the Copa del Rey for the "Submarino Amarillo" (The Yellow Submarine).


In January 2021 the Spaniards let him go and he went back to Holland on loan joining ADO Den Haag. With the "Ooievar" (The Stork) he played 14 league games with 2 goals (PSV, PEC Zwolle). The team from The Hague was relegated in last place.


Adekanye then came back to Italy and Lazio but never played and in January joined Crotone in Serie B on loan. In Calabria he only played 4 league games and the "Squali" (The Sharks) were relegated to Serie C.


In the summer of 2022 he definitely left Lazio and joined the Go Ahead Eagles from Deventer, in his home country of Holland. He played 17 league games with 5 goals and 1 game in the Dutch Cup. The "Trots aan de IJssel" (The Pride of IJssel) finished 11th in the Eredivisie.


Adekanye has represented Holland at U16 level (8 games), Under 17's (3 games and 1 goal) and Under 20's (1 game).


Adekanye is a left footed attacking winger. He is 1.70 metres and extremely fast and with good dribbling skills.


At Lazio he arrived young and the fact that he came from Liverpool maybe raised people’s hopes a bit too much. It was not easy to break into the first team but he did get 11 games and has an Italian Supercoppa to his name. If it were not for Covid 19 he may even have become Italian champion but alas we will never know.


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

2019-20

15 (1)

11 (1)

1

3

Sources



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