So I have reached the winter break in my first full season at Lazio and, so far, everything is going pretty well. We won our Europa League with ease, winning all 6 games, and currently lie 4th in Serie A. Most of the summer signings have adapted well and the board are ‘very pleased’ with my leadership.
The league campaign started brilliantly as we went unbeaten for the first 6 games of the season. This included a 2-0 away win over Roma in the della Capitale Derby thanks to goals from Alessandro Bastoni and Sebastian Perez. Our first defeat came away to AC Milan in matchday 7 although we bounced back with a good 2-1 win over Sampdoria. We have so far lost 5 games in the league but managed to win the next match each time which shows good squad mentality.
Last season we finished 7th behind champions Napoli, AC Milan, Internazionale, Juventus, Roma and Bologna and so far we have lost to 4 of them (Entella inflicted the other defeat). Bologna and Roma we beat, however, we have only played Napoli at home in the first half of the season so I’m hopeful that we can improve that record in the second half of the season. Both Juve and Inter pumped us and we were lucky to get away with 4-1 and 3-1 defeats, respectfully.
We definitely seem to have sorted out our goal-scoring problems from last season, as we are the top goalscorers in the division, but I’m still a bit concerned about our defending. We have the joint 11th best record in the division having conceded 22 in 17 matches. Given the potential quality of our defenders I’m putting this down to them not having reached this potential yet and that they will get better.
Wee Paddy Roberts has been the stand out performer for us. For a winger he’s 3rd top goalscorer in the division, 4th best minutes-per-goal ratio, most key passes, 2nd most MOM awards and highest average rating. He’s been transfer listed by Man City but I just can’t afford him. My best bet is to get him on loan again next season and then hopefully get him on a free when his contract expires.
For the rest of the season I think Champions League is a definite possibility. Realistically the league is a tough ask but with only 5 points separating the top 6 who knows. I suspect Napoli and Juventus will pull away and leave the rest of us to battle it out for the two remaining UCL spots, however, all of the other 5 teams have still to come to the Olimpico (I’ve not played Spezia at all yet so still need to go there) so we’re in a decent position.
In the Europa League we were outstanding. Having seen off Austria Vienna and Olimpija of Slovenia in the qualifying rounds we went on to dominate our group. Our first match was away to Schalke where we won 3-1 and never looked back. We proceeded to win all 6 of our group games, scoring 20 goals in the process and conceding only 3. In our final group game I played the kids and 3 of them got on the scoresheet. David Gimenez became the clubs youngest ever goalscorer until Alberto Quadrini beat him to the record 75 minutes later. In the first knockout round we will play Marseille, who are currently 3rd in Ligue 1.
I also noticed that our attendances are considerably higher for the UEL. Our average attendance for the 3 group games was 35,341 whereas our average for Serie A is 23,938. You’d think it’d be the other way around. It would appear that Italian football fans are a weird bunch.
The board have stopped me going for coaching badges so I am currently stuck on a Continental B Licence and, interestingly, I was talked about for the AC Milan job. I decided not to apply for it but it means I am getting mentioned in association with teams who might be able to win the Champions League. With the best will in the world I don’t think Lazio will be capable of winning it. They simply can’t generate the money to compete with the English clubs or Real, Barca, Bayern or PSG. However, we are definitely in with a shout of qualifying this year and I think that’ll be a good boost to my reputation.