Lazio and Bologna faced each other on matchday 26 of Serie A. Simone Inzaghi, it was important to take three points to keep the pressure on Inter Milan and Juventus and at the same time to go on to the top of the league table. This alone set high expectations for this game and how they dealt with such pressure will be focused on in our tactical analysis. Bologna, on the other hand, sits at the tenth position with 36 points. In our analysis, we will also explain Lazio’s tactics and show how Inzaghi prepared for the game.
Inzaghi organized Lazio in their usual 3-5-2/3-5-1-1 with Joaquín Correa playing slightly behind Ciro Immobile to create a midfield diamond at times with him at the tip, Sergej Milinković-Savić on the right, Luis Alberto on the left, and Lucas Leiva at its base, Luiz Felipe replacing Vavro in the defense and Immobile and Correa as the two center forwards.
Mihajlović made three changes to the team that played a 1-1 draw against Udinese with Denswil replacing Mbaye, Schouten replacing Dominguez, Soriano replacing Olsen and Skorupski replacing da Costa in the goal. Bologna lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation.
Lazio’s attacking play
Lazio are developing nicely into one of Europe’s most exciting teams to watch and one of the main reasons for that is their use of attacking midfielders, Milinković-Savić and Luis Alberto. In this game also, the duo played a vital in creating attacking chances for Lazio.
Previous analysis has shown that Lazio like to build their attack through Luis Alberto with both the wingbacks join the attack to provide the width on the flanks, in this game also they tried to create attacking chances through Alberto, he had a pass accuracy of 87% and also opened the scoring for Lazio.
In the image above we can see that due to the lack of pressure from Bologna’s center- back, Alberto has enough time and space to take the shot. One interesting thing to note is Ciro Immobile’s positioning, he drifts wide and took away two defenders and that has created the space for Alberto, who opened the scoring for Lazio.
Luis Alberto was the fulcrum of this side before he was taken off in the 61’st minute. His creativity during this tie was unparalleled, providing 2 key passes and 33 accurate short passes. In addition to this creativity, he also took two shots, in an effort to provide the attacking impetus during this tie.
In the image below we can see one example of both the attacking midfielders combining together during the attacking phase, here Bologna’s defensive line is out of shape and Luis Alberto played a pass to Milinković-Savić who had so much space and time, this also led to a goal-scoring opportunity.
During the attacking phase Milinković-Savić would often try to exploit the half-spaces, he often combines with Lazzari on the right flank. He also played a key role in the switches from left to right in that he always made either runs in the half-spaces to drag the left-back with him or just stood in that position to prevent the left-back from going out wide to Manuel Lazzari early. In addition to this, Milinković had a pass accuracy of 87%.
In the image above, we see that the Bologna’s left-back Denswil decided to go with Lazzari and that has left a big hole in the half-space area for Milinković-Savić to exploit.
One part of Simone Inzaghi’s tactics is to use Milinković-Savić as the target man due to Serbian international’s physicality, as he had 50% accuracy in aerial duels. Inzaghi’s plan was to overload the central area while using Milinković as the target man.
In the image below, we see an example of this, Lazio’s goalkeeper, Strakosha played a long ball to Milinković and had he lost the first ball, Lazio players would have easily won the second ball due to the midfield overload created by them, we can also see 6v4 situation in the midfield.
One of Lazio’s main method of chance creation throughout this season has been the wing-play, In this game also, both the wingbacks, Jony and Lazzari provided the width from the flanks. Inzaghi’s plan was to attack the wide areas with quick switches to isolate his wing-backs in 1 vs 1 situation and then fill the box with players to attack crosses.
We can see this in the image below as the left-back Jony switches the play, Milinković stood in his position to prevent the left-back from going out wide to Lazzari and is able to receive Jony’s pass in plenty of space to then attack the full-back at pace.
The image below highlights another situation where Lazio attacking through the wings. Here, Lazzari down the right has three different options to choose from.
Bologna’s tactical system
As mentioned above, Bologna lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, There were multiple occasions during the match where Bologna were dictating the tempo in midfield and created chances through their passages of short-passing play.
The team, led by Mihajlović, showed that they attack with many players. The analysis showed that Bologna attacks with up to six players to generate numerical equality. In addition, this means that Bologna players have very clear transitions. In the image below we see one example of this, Bologna attacking with six players.
In addition, Bologna tried to create their chances through Soriano and Schouten, Schouten had a pass accuracy of 100% and had 2 shots on the target, often playing the short passes. The image below highlights one such situation, here Soriano plays a pass to Santander who in return plays a one-touch pass to Barrow. In this way, Bologna were able to create a goal-scoring opportunity.
Another tactical variant in the attack was generated from the left flank, 37% of the total Bologna’s attack came from the left side. They tried to overload the left flank before either sending the cross in the box or attempting to hit the target. The image below highlights the left-flank overload, creating a 5v4 situation.
In the second half, Bologna shifted to 3-4-1-2 formation, the two substitutions Mihajlović made, resulted in the three positional changes. Poli shifted to central midfield position, Barrow as the attacking midfielder, Tomiyasu as the wingback.
In the image below we see that both the center forwards get narrow and that had created the space on the right flank for Tomiyasu to exploit. Here, Poli had two different options to pass the ball.
During the build-up phase of Lazio, Bologna pressed with 5 men, as seen in the image below, this was done to force Lazio to either play on the flanks or to go long.
Lazio’s defensive system, the pressing and midfield diamond
Lazio is a flexible side, capable of keeping possession but they are also smart enough to give up possession in exchange for higher quality chances on the counterattack. Thus, Bologna finished this match with 53% possession whilst Lazio ended the match on 47%.
Besides, when Lazio didn’t have possession of the ball, they changed their scheme, with both the wingbacks dropped in the defense. In this way, a line of five players was formed in the backline. However, the lines weren’t narrow and there was a lot of space between the midfield line and the forward line. In the image below, we can see Lazio’s 5-3-2 defensive system.
As mentioned above, Lazio often tried to create a midfield diamond with Joaquín Correa playing slightly behind Ciro Immobile to create a midfield diamond at times with him at the tip. This was done as the diamond sacrifices some attacking potential to ensure defensive stability.
During the build-up phase of Bologna, Lazio also pressed with 5 men, as seen in the image below, the idea was to surround Poli, who in the first half was playing as the defensive midfielder and was responsible for getting the first pass from the center backs, this was done to force Bologna to either play on the flanks or to go long.
As this analysis has shown, Lazio were just a more clinical side. Lazio are always an interesting side to watch this season. Not only do they have one of the best attacks in Europe but they also have a tactically agile manager in Simone Inzaghi. That resulted in an impressive win as Lazio are now top of the league table with 62 points.
Bologna really pushed Lazio close but their finishing let them down, This was reflected in the Expected Goals metric, which leaned 1.37 to 1.01 in the favor of the away side. This loss means that Bologna now sit at the tenth position in the league with 36 points.