Can Celtic replicate Lazio wonders of 2019?

Celtic’s Champions League group stage campaign gets underway in just two weeks and the first match to be played at Celtic Park will be against Italian side Lazio.

The Biancocelesti have seen a resurgence under Maurizio Sarri and have returned to the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 3 years.

The Italians have changed a lot since Celtic last faced them back in 2019 and here is A Celtic State of Mind’s lowdown on Lazio.

Last Season

Lazio built upon a fifth-placed finish in the 2021/22 season by finishing second in Serie A. The difference in Lazio’s campaign last season was that the goals were shared amongst the team as opposed to the usual reliance on talisman Ciro Immobile.

The likes of Manuel Lazzari and standout performer Mattia Zacagni stepped up as well as some of their key players with Sergei Milinkovic-Savic (now at Al-Hilal) being his usual consistent self.

Lazio performed well against some of the league’s bigger sides too with a resounding 4-0 win over AC Milan as well as an away win against runaway champions Napoli.

Summer Transfer Window

As previously mentioned, one of Lazio’s most consistent players over the last decade in Sergei Milinkovic-Savic moved on to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal for a massive fee.

Lazio used that cash to pick up a couple of smart signings with forward Taty Castellanos joining. They also acquired the services of Daichi Kamada with the Japanese attacker joining on a free transfer after leaving Frankfurt upon the expiry of his contract.

Lazio also delved into the loan market, picking up Luca Pellegrini from Juventus, Matteo Guendouzi from Marseille and Nicolo Rovella from Juventus for the season.

European Heritage

Lazio first appeared in the Champions League in 1999/2000 which was also the season in which they went the furthest they have ever gone in the competition. Their European run ended at the quarter-final stage, where they lost 5-3 on aggregate against a Valencia side that eventually lost in the final to Real Madrid. This Lazio squad consisted of such luminaries as Juan Sebastien Veron, Alessandro Nesta and Pavel Nedved.

Lazio have a Cup Winners’ Cup and a UEFA Super Cup to their name, winning the former back in 1999 at Villa Park against Mallorca. They won the UEFA Super Cup later that year, beating Manchester United 1-0 in Monaco thanks to a Marcelo Salas goal.

In recent years, however, Lazio have been inconsistent. The best performance in Europe in the last decade from the Biancocelesti would be when they reached the last 16 of the Champions League in 2020 before being on the receiving end of a hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich.

Player to watch: Ciro Immobile

Age is just a number for Ciro Immobile, as the 33-year-old continues to score goals at a remarkable rate.

With career transfer fees totalling €63.13m, the Italian international has scored 275 career goals in 498 games.

One of Europe’s top marksmen, Immobile is Lazio’s talisman and despite the goals being shared around the team last season, a lot of the responsibility will still be placed upon the striker’s shoulders to drive the team forward.


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