Who do you think of when asked about the teams that play the best football in Europe? Man City? PSG? Bayern? Barcelona? While those giants of the modern game should all be rightly celebrated as the best, some love must be shown for a club who operate on a different financial level to those – Lazio. Simone Inzaghi has created one of the most exciting teams in Europe – a supercar built from spare parts.
The Biancocelesti are Serie A’s top scorers this season with 64 goals in 26 games. That’s more than Genoa, Sassuolo and Cagliari’s combined totals (none of those teams are in the relegation zone in Serie A). Lazio sit third in the table, and while they do not look like shifting Napoli and Juventus from the top spots (you can get odds of 250/1 for them to do so), they are favourites at 1/3 to pip the Milan clubs and Roma to the final Champions League spot.
Lazio have spent much less on transfers than Serie A rivals
While Lazio have always been regarded as a ‘big club’, there is achievement is all the more remarkable given their tight transfer budget. They spent just £26 million across the 2017/18 transfer windows, recouping all of that in the sale of Keita Baldé to Monaco. Compare that to AC Milan, who have spent five times that amount yet sit four places behind Lazio in the table.
Much of the success is down to the rejuvenation of Ciro Immobile. The 28-year-old has always been talented, but he never quite fit in at clubs like Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla. He has found his natural home at the StadioOlimpico., leading Serie A’s scoring charts with 23 goals, five ahead of his nearest rival Mauro Icardi. Immobile has become a symbol for a team whose modus operandi is to score and entertain.
Europa League success looks a solid bet for Lazio
While success at home is looking good, Inzaghi seems to have his eyes on a bigger prize – the Europa League. They smashed five goals past Steaua Bucharest in their Last 32 second leg tie recently and have been handed a winnable tie against Dynamo Kiev in the Last 16. They have been made fourth-favourites for the tournament at 10/1 with Betfred, with Atlético Madrid (9/4), Arsenal (5/1) and Dortmund (11/2) ranked ahead of them. Lazio’s odds look a bargain, especially given you can use the latest Betfred free bets on the tournament.
Lazio last made it to a major European final in 1999, when winning the now defunct UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. They look to be firing on all cylinders in the Europa League this season and they look a really good shout to make it the final this time around. It will be just reward for Inzaghi, who has shown he is one of Europe’s most exciting managers by turning Lazio around. Incidentally, Immobile has five goals in just 235 minutes of Europa League football this season – a goal every 45 minutes.
Lazio’s style of play should be admired
How long Lazio can keep up this thrilling form remains to be seen. The side has flaws, sometimes letting their attacking instincts get the better of them when they should play a little more pragmatically. They also look like losing top-rated defender Stefan De Vrij at the end of the season. But for the moment, football fans should sit back and enjoy this exciting side built on a shoe-string budget – a team that should be celebrated as one of the most entertaining in world football.
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