In what was a showdown between two Italian icons on Tuesday night, Lazio laid down what was a stunning marker at the Stadio Olimpico as they stormed their way to a 4-0 romp against AC Milan.
With Serbian ace Sergej Milinkovic-Savic opening the scoring after just four minutes, Maurizio Sarri’s side never looked back as they breezed their way past a Rossoneri squad who are enduring a rather public domestic struggle.
Watching Mattia Zaccagni, Luis Alberto and Felipe Anderson all get themselves on the scoresheet on either side of the half-time break, Lazio are enjoying what has been a welcome January flurry.
Breaking their way into the top-four and putting in the most polished display of their Serie A campaign so far, the Eagles also piled more pressure onto an AC Milan side who are enduring a five-match winless run.
In what was a shocking romp for Sarri’s side on Tuesday night, we have taken a look at the key talking points from the Stadio Olimpico.
Lazio have turned a real corner
Marking their return from the World Cup break and opening 2023 with a shock 2-1 loss away at Lecce, it is no secret that Lazio had continued to show a string of inconsistencies on either side of the festive interval.
However, making a statement that would have been heard all around Italy on Tuesday night, Sarri’s squad do appear to have turned a real corner over the past 10 days.
Watching Juventus get hit with that stunning 15-point deduction last week, the Eagles now find themselves sat firmly in pole position to claim a Champions League return this season.
Skyrocketing their way up to third in the Serie A table and enjoying what has been their brightest run of the 2022/23 campaign, the one-time Chelsea boss has seen his side win each of their last three straight domestic showdowns.
Likewise, extending on their Coppa Italia adventure on January 19th thanks to a 1-0 victory against Bologna, fans around the Stadio Olimpico will be excited by their side’s new-found defensive resolve. In fact, this is now the first time since October that Sarri’s side have recorded three consecutive clean sheets.
Pressure mounts on Pioli
While AC Milan might have made real history last season as they ended their 11-year wait to be crowned Serie A champions, the Rossoneri now find themselves in the midst of a continued domestic wobble.
Now sat 12 points adrift of a high-flying Napoli and knowing that they are now seeking a minor miracle, there appears to be some growing pressure on Stefano Pioli’s shoulders.
Coming under a huge amount of scrutiny on January 18th as they were hit with a 3-0 drumming against bitter rivals Inter Milan in this year’s Super Cup showdown, the one-time Lazio boss finds his side in the midst of a five-match domestic winless rut.
Putting in arguably the worst performance of Pioli’s tenure on Tuesday night and completely blown away at the Stadio Olimpico, AC have also shown some rather glaring recent struggles at the back.
Along with eventually having to settle for an action-packed 2-2 draw away at Lecce earlier in the month, the reigning Serie A champions have shipped 12 strikes on their five-match blip.
With the Champions League return just around the corner, the Rossoneri are desperately seeking some kind of boost.
Who can stop Anderson?
Once again unable to call upon attacking talisman Ciro Immobile on Tuesday, many Lazio fans had concerns over who would spearhead Sarri’s charge when returning from the World Cup break.
However, with their skipper dealing with a string of injury issues this season, Anderson has done a stellar job of filling the Italian international’s void.
Putting the cherry on top of Lazio’s rampant display at the Stadio Olimpico and bagging the Eagles’ fourth of the night, the former West Ham star has become an instrumental part of Sarri’s top-four charge.
Filling in as a false nine here and only continuing to gain a string of praise from Sarri, Anderson has now found the net in each of his last four straight appearances across all competitions.
Dragging Lazio over the finish line as they extended on their Coppa Italia adventure against Bologna earlier in the month, the 29-year-old has really impressed since returning to Rome last year.
Despite struggling to make much of an impact after arriving at the London Stadium in a £35million move back in 2018, Anderson has rebuilt his reputation over the past 18 months.
Lazio: Provedel, Marusic, Casale, Romagnoli, Hysaj, Milinkovic-Savic, Cataldi, Alberto, Pedro, Anderson, Zaccagni
Subs: Antonio, Romero, Lazzari, Basic
AC Milan: Tatarusanu, Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Dest, Tonali, Bennacer, Leao, Diaz, Messias, Giroud
Subs: Kjaer, Rebic, Origi, De Ketelaere
Goals: Milinkovic-Savic (4′), Zaccagni (38′), Alberto (67′ pen), Anderson (75′)
Yellow Cards: Lazio: Milinkovic-Savic – AC Milan: Bennacer, Kjaer
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Marco Di Bello