In this tactical analysis we will take a look at Roma vs Lazio in Serie A, and how Roma stopped their local rivals from qualifying for next season’s UEFA Champions League.
The xG of this match favors Roma, with it being Roma 2 (1.13) - 0 (0.88) Lazio. Lazio failed to create high quality goal scoring opportunities despite Roma missing key players such as Leonardo Spinazzola, Jordan Veretout, and goalkeeper Pau Lopez all through injury. For further match statistics check out Whoscored.
We mentioned above that Roma were missing key players through injury, most notably in midfield and defense. However the team fielded was more than enough to do the job, especially the attacking players who have remained largely unchanged this season.
Lazio played their strongest lineup in what was a must win game. Tactically, Lazio were not outclassed by any means. Roma simply exploited the space behind the Lazio fullbacks during transitional periods of the game. In defense, Lazio moved to a 5-3-2, with the ball sided wingback leading the press while the opposite wingback came inside and played as a more traditional fullback.
Lazio made it very easy for Roma to playout from the back as they normally have this season. One of Cristante or Darboe would drop between the central defenders while the Roma wingbacks pushed high and wide. This tactic would stretch the Lazio central midfielders, forcing them to cover more space and leaving pockets for Cristante to drop into (as seen below.)
Lazio would have Leiva drop between two of the three central defenders exclusively. Albert and Savic were tasked with staying central as forward passing options, while the width came from a central defender Leiva was not between (Radu below) and an opposite wingback (Lazzari below.) This was an asymmetrical way of playing out from the back, done in an attempt to target certain sides of the pitch.
The side of the pitch with the central defender more advanced, Radu below for example, was the side of the pitch that was targeted. The Roma fullbacks often take up advanced positions, so Lazio would look to attack the space left behind the advanced fullbacks.
Lazio’s attacking tactics were largely ineffective due to Roma’s low- to mid-block. Roma would task the ball sided wide player and Dzeko with leading the block. El Shaarawy and Henrikh Mkhitaryan would take turns joining Dzeko to lead the block.
Roma allowed Lazio space in the wide areas because they were comfortable defending crosses or pressing the wide areas instead. Lazio had no way of using central passing options.
Earlier I mentioned how Lazio would defend in a 5-3-2 that saw the ball sided wingback lead the press. As the Lazio wingback presses the advanced Roma fullback, the ball sided center-back moves into a fullback role. This has been Lazio’s defending tactic for most of the season, however, Roma were prepared to handle this.
Roma would have the ball sided wide player, El Sharaawy in the example below, sit in the channels between the Lazio wingback and central defender. This was done so that when Lazio press the Roma fullback, Roma had a high quality forward passing option that required a very low-effort and direct pass into space.
Roma really didn’t have much to play for in this match. Qualification to the Europa League is impossible. This victory sought to kill Lazio’s Champions League qualification dreams. Lazio played poorly despite playing their strongest team. Perhaps a sign that they’re not Champions League material after all. Having said that, qualification to the Europa League is guaranteed. Any continental competition is better than no continental competition.
To access more tactical pieces follow us on Twitter @Pythaginboots
I’m a Canadian soccer/football coach and analyst with a bias towards Manchester City. Follow me on twitter for more football content @CamH___