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Victor Osimhen contained: How did Lazio do it?

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Not solely was the Nigeria worldwide unable to search out the again of the online in opposition to Lazio, however he was saved as quiet as he has been all season by Maurizio Sarri’s facet. How did they do it?

On Friday evening, Lazio did the seemingly inconceivable. 

Earlier than their assembly with runaway league leaders Napoli, Victor Osimhen had scored in eight consecutive matches for the Partenopei, cementing his standing as one in every of Europe’s premier marksmen. His capacity to pose a multiplicity of questions made him inconceivable to regulate, and when Le Aquile got here to Naples, it was nailed on that Osimhen would equal David Trezeguet’s Serie A document and rating in his ninth consecutive league match.

He didn’t. Not solely did Napoli lose for only the second time this season, their sought-after no. 9 struggled to make an impression for a lot of the proceedings. 

On the danger of a nerdgasm, listed below are some numbers that handily illustrate Osimhen’s ineffectuality on the evening: in opposition to Lazio, the 24-year-old recorded his second-lowest Anticipated Targets (xG) tally of the marketing campaign (0.3),second-fewest carries (8), fewest touches within the opposing penalty space (1), fifth-fewest touches (21), third-fewest passes obtained, and tried not a single take-on. (All figures through FBref.)

How did Lazio handle it?

It is very important acknowledge, to begin with, that Napoli (as a staff) have been, by their very own requirements, not at their finest. Nevertheless, by most metrics, their output was broadly consistent with what they’ve produced up to now this time period, so the drop-off on their half was minimal – most likely extra psychological than technical.

So far as actions on the pitch go, it was down extra to what Lazio prevented Osimhen from doing.

Defending the channel

There was a curious shortage of runs in behind from Osimhen, particularly contemplating Lazio saved a fairly excessive line in open play. Most of the time, Osimhen confirmed for the ball to ft, however the type of arcing runs into the channel which have change into one thing of a trademark have been in brief provide.

The explanation for this was that Lazio bought their distances proper laterally. Not solely did Maurizio Sarri’s facet give attention to stuffing up central areas, forcing Napoli to play out vast, in addition they saved their full-backs Adam Marusic and Elseid Hysaj in pretty deep positions, defending the channel.

<span class="source"> Lazio&#8217;s common positions v Napoli (Sofascore) </span>

This central compactness additionally protected half-spaces, making it tougher for the again 4 to be pulled our of form. Right here, the Lazio vast gamers are positioned extraordinarily deep – even behind their no.8s – taking on central midfield positions so as to present foolproof protection.

With the angled ball down the road taken out of the equation, the onus was on Napoli to play both play over the defence, a low-percentage play that calls for perfection, of play to the flanks and progress that means.

Offside line

Whereas it was not a concerted technique of Lazio’s, they however have been aggressive by way of pushing as much as catch Osimhen – not essentially the most attentive relating to staying on the correct facet of the road at the very best of instances – out.

This within the thirty fifth minute was maybe the very best instance. As Kvicha Kvaratskhelia launched the move to Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Osimhen started his trademark motion to get on Patric’s blindside.

By the point the Napoli captain obtained the move, nevertheless, your complete Lazio defence had pushed up as one, catching the striker offside.

Defending crosses

Basically, Lazio’s defensive organisation was wonderful. Total, they lowered Napoli to 0.8 xG on the evening, and a big half was right down to their set-up in crossing conditions.

Osimhen’s prowess within the air is well-known: 5 of his 19 objectives up to now this season in Serie A have been assisted by crosses, and he holds the document for the most important vertical leap within the league since such data started to be compiled. Lazio had a two-pronged plan, nevertheless, particularly in open play.

They have been notably aggressive and dedicated by way of their closing down when the ball went vast (Napoli didn’t assist themselves; as Luciano Spalletti noticed afterwards, they too usually “rushed strikes down the flanks”, stopping them from working clearer openings.)

When that failed, nevertheless, their positional defending contained in the field was wonderful. The near-side centre-back positioned himself to chop out the ball throughout the close to submit, whereas the latter maintained entry to Osimhen and the deepest midfielder – often match winner Matias Vecino – remained ready to intercept a doable ball into ft.

<span class="source"> Patric masking the ball throughout the six-yard field, Romagnoli watching Osimhen, Vecino and Luis Alberto available to intercept a cut-back </span>
<span class="source"> From the opposite flank, this time Romagnoli covers the entrance submit, Patric watches Osimhen, and Vecino in place to deal with the cut-back </span>
<span class="source"> One final time: The near-side centre-back covers close to submit/six-yard field, his companion is on Osimhen, and deepest midfielder (on this case, Milinkovic-Savic) positions to impede the cut-back </span>

It labored: Napoli solely accomplished one cross (out of 20 tried) into the Lazio penalty space. As if to underline his latent menace, from it, Osimhen crashed a header in opposition to the angle of submit and bar.

The darkish arts

The duty of marshalling Osimhen largely fell to-back Patric, whereas centre-back companion Alessio Romagnoli performed barely deeper. The Spaniard had recreation, judging appropriately when to go in on the Napoli no.9 and when to drop off.

Nevertheless, when he did, he employed a good bit of gamesmanship, focusing his tackles on the Nigerian’s higher physique, particularly above chest peak. Osimhen is famously sporting a protecting face masks after all.

Deliberate? You be the decide.

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