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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

June 27, 2020: Lazio Fiorentina 2-1

Updated: Jun 27

"Il Mago" keeps the dream alive


A goal by Luis Alberto eight minutes from time gives Lazio win and hope





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 defenders 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 8 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 the league 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 were now four points behind leaders Juventus.


Today's game against Fiorentina was a test to see if Lazio could still realistically fight for the title.


Fiorentina had finished 16th the previous year, after a difficult season, the "Viola" only reached safety in the last game with a draw of convenience with Genoa. They had started with Stefano Pioli but after 31 games replaced him with Vincenzo "Aeroplanino" Montella.


In the summer the club had changed hands, after 17 years of ownership, and passed from the Della Valle brothers to Italo-American entrepreneur Rocco Commisso (owner of Mediacom and New York Cosmos).


This year the former Roma striker Montella had been kept on as manager but then was replaced by Giuseppe Iachini after 17 games. Their main new players were goalkeepers Pietro Terracciano and Bartlomiej Dragowski (both Empoli), defender Henrique Dalbert (Inter), midfielders Kevin Prince Boateng (Sassuolo), Milan Badelj (Lazio - on loan), Erick Pulgar (Bologna), but especially legendary Frenchman Franck Ribéry (free agent).


Leaving were defender Cristiano Biraghi (Inter - on loan, he would be back), midfielder Jordan Veretout (Roma - on loan) and striker Giovanni Simeone (Cagliari - on loan).


So far the "Gigliati " had won 7 (including both Milan and Napoli away), drawn 9 and lost 11 (including Lazio 1-2). On their return from lockdown they had drawn 1-1 at home with Brescia. The "Viola" were in 13th place with 30 points. Top scorers were Federico Chiesa and Dušan Vlahović with 6 goals.


The match: Saturday, June 27, 2020, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


Tonight' s game came only three days after the first post-lockdown one. In confirmation of Inzaghi's lack of options he made only two changes, Felipe Caicedo for Joaquin Correa and Bastos for Stefan Radu. Lucas Leiva and Senad Lulic were out injured.


Fiorentina on the other hand changed several players. Chiesa was suspended but Iachini (also suspended) brought in Federico Ceccherini, Badelj, Rachid Ghezzal, Patrick Cutrone and Ribéry (in place of Martin Caceres, Bobby Duncan, Erick Pulgar, Chiesa and Dusan Vlahovic).


Fiorentina's 3-5-2 formation put Lazio in difficulty from the start. The hosts were unable to find space while the Florentines were always dangerous on the break with Ribéry pulling the strings. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was shadowed by Gaetano Castrovillari and only Manuel Lazzari with his speed caused the visitors any headaches. Lazio had a header by Marco Parolo saved by Dragowski but in general were blocked well by Fiorentina.


In the 25th minute the "Gigliati" took the lead, with the best player on the field so far Franck Ribéry. The Frenchman danced past (more like through) Patric and Parolo on the left, then round Francesco Acerbi before placing a superb right foot in the corner. Lazio 0 Fiorentina 1.


Lazio’s reaction was bland and all they mustered was a header by Caicedo over the bar. A worrying first half for Lazio who were the ghost of the team admired until lockdown.


Two substitutions at half time, one per team, Radu for Bastos and Igor for Dalbert (in difficulty on Lazzari).


In the beginning of the second half Lazio continued to bounce back off Fiorentina's defensive wall while the "Viola" themselves were extremely dangerous. First a well-placed shot by Castrovillari was saved by Thomas Strakosha and then a sublime curling shot by Ghezzal came back off the crossbar. Nilola Milenkovic then fired over the bar with a long-range effort.


Having been let off the hook Lazio gradually threatened more. Jony had a cracking shot brilliantly saved by the keeper and Lazio increased the tempo. In the 67th minute they were awarded a penalty. Caicedo chested the ball down and got a touch to go past Dragowski when he was fouled (or fell into him… difficult to say). Ciro Immobile took the spot kick and scored, keeper one way and ball the other. Lazio 1 Fiorentina 1 and twenty minutes to go.

Lazio took energy from the equaliser while Ribéry and Fiorentina, already fading before, now were flagging. Lazio surged forward and in the 82nd minute went ahead with Luis Alberto. The Spaniard got the ball just over the halfway line and went straight and unchallenged towards the area, he tried a one- two with Immobile but the ball came back to him off a defenders heel, at that point just outside the box, he did not think twice and sent a low, surgically precise shot into the right hand corner. Lazio 2 Fiorentina 1.


Fiorentina were incapable of a reaction and Lazio controlled the match without running any excessive risks. The only further event was the sending off of Vlahovic in the 95th minute for elbowing Patric.


A precious win for Lazio who remained only 4 points behind leaders Juventus. There was the sensation however that Lazio were not what they were physically and mentally. The fast and furious number of games approaching could be a problem for their already stretched squad. Looking at the seven unused players on the bench today there was not much to choose from. For now however they celebrated their first win since February.


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Proto, Guerrieri, Jorge Silva, Armini, Vavro, Falbo, A. Anderson

Manager: S. Inzaghi


Who played for Fiorentina


Dragowski, Milenkovic, Pezzella, Ceccherini (74' Venuti), Lirola, Badelj (84' Pulgar), Castrovillari, Dalbert (46' Igor), Ghezzal, Cutrone (63' Vlahović), Ribéry (84' Sottil)

Substitutes: Terracciano, Terzić, Agudelo, Benassi, Beloko, Duncan

Manager: Iachini (today Carillo)


Referee: Fabbri


Goals: 25' Ribéry, 67' Immobile, 82' Luis Alberto




What happened next


As predicted by many, Lazio were not able to keep up their title challenge. Playing every three days was never going to work for their limited squad, further reduced by injuries.


Lazio won their next match 2-1 away against Torino but then crumbled. Over the following five games they only earned one point. Once their title dream had vanished they picked up again and won three out of the last four.


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).


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.


Fiorentina finished 10th. A week later they lost 1-3 at home to Sassuolo but then in the last nine games won 5, drew 3 and lost 1. Top scorer was Chiesa with 10 goals.


The Scudetto was won by Maurizio Sarri and Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus for their 36th title. The three slumping down to Serie B were 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

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

Super Coppa

Acerbi

45

36

2

6

1

Immobile

44

37

2

4

1

Strakosha

44

38

1

4

1

Milinkovic-Savic

43

37

1

4

1

Luis Alberto

41

36

-

4

1

Top five goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

Super Coppa

Immobile

39

36

1

2

-

Correa

10

9

-

1

-

Caicedo

9

9

-

-

-

Milinkovic-Savic

8

7

-

1

-

Luis Alberto

7

6

-

-

1

Let’s talk about: Jonathan Rodríguez Menéndez - "Jony"


Official SS Lazio photo

Jony was born in Cangas del Narcea (Oviedo) Spain, on July 9, 1991.


He started kicking a ball in his local Narcea before joining nearby Oviedo and Barcelona youth sectors.


He made his first team debut for Real Oviedo, in Segunda Division B, in the 2010-11 season. He only played that one game for the "Oviedistas".


In 2011-12 he played for Marino de Luanco (Avilés- Asturias) in Segunda División B. He played 32 league games with 5 goals.


In 2012-13 he moved to Getafe B in Segunda Division B. He played 8 games with 1 goal for "Los Azulones" but in January he moved to Real Avilés in the same division and played another 13 games.


In 2013 he joined Sporting Gijon B in Segunda Division and played 31 league games with 8 goals. He also played 5 league games, and two in the playoffs, with 2 goals. The "Rojiblancos" first team finished 5th (then lost the semifinal playoff to Las Palmas).


In 2014 he joined the Sporting Gijon first team full time in Segunda Division. He played 41 league games with 7 goals plus 1 game and 1 goal in the Copa del Rey. The "Asturianos" won promotion to the Liga.


So in 2015 Jony made his debut in the top flight. Under manager Abelardo Fernández, he played 36 league games with 5 goals (Rayo Vallecano, Deportivo La Coruña, Las Palmas, Eibar, Villareal).


In 2016 he joined ambitious Malaga in the Liga. In his first season he played 24 league games with 2 goals and 2 games in the Copa del Rey. The "Boquerones" (The Anchovies), under former Real Madrid glory Michel, finished 11th.


In 2017 he started with Malaga but in January, after playing only 5 league games and 2 in Copa del Rey, he returned on loan to Sporting Gijon who in the meantime were back in Segunda Division. Jony played 21 league games, plus 2 in the playoffs and scored 6 goals (Oviedo, Numancia, Cultura Leonesa, Almeria, Albacete, Valladolid) The "Rojiblancos" finished 4th, under Rubén Baraja, and lost the semi-final playoff to Real Valladolid.


In 2018 he joined Alavés, in the Liga, on loan. In Vitoria-Gasteiz he found manager Abelardo again and played 34 league games with 5 goals (Eibar, Huesca, Sevilla, Levante, Valladolid) and 1 game in Copa del Rey. "Los Babazorros" (The Bean Eaters) finished 11th.


In the late summer of 2019 Jony signed for Lazio in Serie A. In Rome his manager was Simone Inzaghi. Jony had his chances and played 24 league games, 2 in Coppa Italia and 6 in Europa League. Lazio had an excellent season until lockdown, fighting for the Scudetto and winning the Italian Supercoppa (Juventus 3-1) but then faded and came 4th. They did however qualify for the Champions League after 13 years. Jony however had not convinced and was sent back to Spain on loan.


In 2020-21 he played for Osasuna, from Pamplona, in the Liga. The "Rojillos" under manager Jagoba Arrasate finished 11th. Jony played 22 league games and 2 in Copa del Rey.


In 2021 at the end of the loan he returned to Lazio. The Biancocelesti had a new manager Maurizio Sarri and Jony never played and in January 2022 went back to Sporting Gijon on loan and is still there. In his first half season he played 6 Segunda Division games, first under David Gallego and then José Luis Martí, and Gijon finished 17th. This season he played 13 games with one goal and the Gijonés finished again 17th.


Jony is a left-footed midfielder who plays mainly on the wing. His best period was his first spell at Sporting Gijon but since then he has not reached those heights.


At Lazio he was not a success. He played with a certain regularity but rarely convinced. He is obviously not without talent and has an excellent cross but in his Roman spell he seemed timid, physically weak and lacking confidence. He won silverware in Rome, the Supercoppa, and could even have won a Scudetto had it not been for the Covid-19 interruption. At Lazio he will be remembered mainly for his sublime cross for Caicedo's 97th minute winner in Cagliari.


He is still owned by Lazio and his contract expires in 2024.


Lazio Career

Season

Appearances

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

2019-20

32

24

2

6

Sources


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