Lazio met Genoa in this 2019/20 Serie A clash hoping to bounce back from their mid-week defeat to Inter Milan. They did so in superb fashion, beating Genoa 4-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. Their tactics played a key part in their victory. This tactical analysis will demonstrate how Lazio’s attacking ambition contributed to their dominant performance. Furthermore, this analysis will also show how the performances of several Lazio players rewarded Simone Inzaghi’s ambition.

Lineups

Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Lazio vs Genoa teams (wyscout.com)

Inzaghi sent his Lazio side out to play his favoured 3-5-2 formation. He made five changes to the side that lost to Inter Milan in mid-week. Stefan Radu replaced Bastos on the left side of the back three. Adam Marušić, Lucas Leiva and Senad Lulić came into midfield and Ciro Immobile started up front having come off the substitutes bench against Inter.

Aurelio Andreazzoli also set up in his preferred 5-3-2 formation. However, his side was unchanged personnel-wise from their previous match, against Bologna.

Lazio’s attacking intent

Lazio clearly approached this match as one in which they could dominate their opponents. They played an offensive brand of football, seeking to get multiple players high up the field who could threaten Genoa’s low 5-3-2 block. At various points, we saw a 3-3-4, a 3-2-5 or even a 3-1-6 shape emerge when Lazio were in possession.

Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
The two teams’ shapes are clearly on show here. Lazio have got into a 3-3-4 shape with the laterals providing high width. Genoa meanwhile are in a 5-3-2 low block. They challenged Lazio to break them down and Lazio obliged.

The 3-3-4 was formed either by both 8s pushing on and the laterals staying deeper, or by both 8s dropping back and the laterals pushing on, or by one of each pushing up. Sometimes, they all pushed on, making the 3-1-6. On other occasions, one 8 or lateral stayed deeper alongside Lucas, with the rest high, forming the 3-2-5.

Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
A 3-1-6 shape did emerge at times. This happened when both number 8s, Sergej Milinković-Savić and Luis Alberto, and both laterals (Marušić and Lulić) pushed high. This left a diamond at the back with 6 players higher upfield.

Lazio also looked to use their centre-backs aggressively, particularly the outside centre-backs. On the ball, they would push up, often creating a diamond with the pivote (Lucas) highest and Francesco Acerbi deepest. On other occasions, Luiz Felipe and Radu would overlap, adding another further presence in wide areas to create possible wide overloads. This generally happened when one of Luis Alberto or Sergej Milinković-Savić dropped deeper.

Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Luiz Felipe is overlapping here. The midfield trio and attacking duo are occupying central areas, but Felipe offers the opportunity to overload Genoa’s isolated left wing-back here with Milinković-Savić having dropped deeper.

Additionally, Lazio were aggressive on the counter-attack. They had ten counter-attacks during the game against a team who have only given up 3.14 per 90 minutes in the past calendar year. Penetrative passing from deep and good combinations higher up the field from the likes of Immobile, Joaquín Correa and Alberto frequently threatened Genoa.

Lazio’s central midfield three shines

The Lazio midfield trio of Lucas, Milinković-Savić and Luis Alberto were crucial in their victory.

Lucas was always the deepest midfielder. He covered the back three, broke up the play, helped initiate attacks and circulate the ball. Genoa were unable to muster a single counter-attack despite Lazio’s attacking intent. That was at least in part a credit to Lucas, who broke up play on numerous occasions. He mustered seven interceptions, nine recoveries and participated in 17 defensive duels (winning 10). He also showed off his impressive range of passing.

Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Lucas picks the ball up in central midfield. He could take the easier option of swinging the ball out left to Lulić. Instead, he lifts the ball over & between Genoa’s back three with the outside of his right boot, into the path of Alberto who has made a great run beyond the strikers. Alberto misses the chance, but it was a superb pass and run.

Alberto and Milinković-Savić meanwhile were superb in the attacking portion of the match. Milinković-Savić grabbed a goal and an assist, whilst Alberto also got an assist as well as seeing a goal ruled out. Both provided quality passing from deep and an extra presence in attack when it was required. They demonstrated their broad skillsets and their importance to their team. Alberto was the more overtly attacking. He completed 88% of his passes and all four of his dribbles.

Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Luis Alberto’s heat map (wyscout.com) shows his contribution across the pitch. He dropped deep, picked the ball up in the half-spaces or just off the front line. Alberto offered a threat whenever he touched the ball.
Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Alberto threatens the back-line before dropping into space between the lines. After receiving the ball, he beats two different players (including the same player twice) dribbling from halfway to the penalty area. This run created a dangerous situation for Lazio.

Milinković-Savić contributed more as a defender (recording seven interceptions) but also completed six of his eight passes into the penalty area. His goal was a great example of the threat he carries in the penalty area whilst his assist was a magnificent pass. They also showed his two-footedness.

Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Milinković-Savić arrives late in the penalty area. The ball is laid into his path. He makes no mistake, stroking the ball first time with his left foot into the right-hand bottom corner.
Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Picking the ball up in the left half-space, Milinković-Savić plays a wonderful reverse pass. He picks out Felipe Caicedo running beyond Genoa’s defence. Caicedo rounds Andrei Radu to score.

Genoa struggle to make an impression

Genoa on the other hand really struggled to make an impact in the game. They had some moments of quality and opportunities, but these were wasted by poor finishing and decision making. Furthermore, Lazio’s disciplined defensive shape and their occasional press were clearly aimed at nullifying Genoa’s attacking approach. This approach revolved around getting the ball to Christian Kouamé. It was reasonably effective.

Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
When Lazio dropped deeper, they often made a diamond in midfield to gain numerical superiority. To do so, one of the strikers (normally Correa or Caicedo when Correa came off) dropped off the front line. This created additional lines through which Genoa needed to penetrate and another body between Genoa’s deeper lying players and Kouamé.

Genoa predominantly wanted to get the ball into Kouamé’s feet but were also willing to play the ball aerially to him. When they were able to find Kouamé, good things did happen.

Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Kouamé is the option between the lines. He was able to flick the ball around the corner to progress the play quickly and shift the position of the attack.
Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Genoa are able to find Kouamé dropping between the lines. He flicks the ball first time to Antonio Sanabria, who shifts it wide to Paolo Ghiglione. Getting the ball to Khouamé was the key way Genoa could break through Lazio’s defensive shape.

They also had some success playing through Lazio’s press on occasion. Unfortunately, they failed to take advantage of the opportunities created on those rare occasions.

Serie A 19/20: Lazio vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Genoa are able to beat Lazio’s press. With Milinković-Savić shifting up to press Domenic Criscito, Lukas Lerager is freed up in midfield. He runs into the vacated space and receives the ball. He carried it upfield, creating an overload before playing on to Antonio Barreca. Barreca put a great ball into the box but Sanabria was unable to convert the chance.

Conclusion

Lazio dominated this match. Their attacking intent and the quality performances of all their players, but especially the midfield trio, saw them record a comfortable win. Whether it was pushing midfielders, laterals or even centre-backs high up the field, they ensured they had plenty of options high up the pitch and threatened Genoa frequently. Furthermore, their defensive plan did nullify Genoa’s threat somewhat. Nevertheless, Genoa will also feel that they were wasteful on the day.



Artwork by @chapulana

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Scott Geelan

Scott is an avid sports fan and follower of both football and its American cousin. He tries to write about both of them.
Scott Geelan