Eight years. We have all waited eight years for someone other than Juventus to win Serie A.
This year, Inter have offered us hope, challenging the Old Lady under the masterful Antonio Conte with perhaps the most exciting strike partnership in world football at the moment – Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku. But two draws in as many matches has quickly seen Juventus rise to the summit of Serie A once more, making their hunt for a ninth straight Scudetto a mere inevitability.
But maybe it isn’t. We are so fixated on the Turin giants, that we have forgotten about Lazio.
While many may even scoff at the prospect of a title challenge in Italy, Lazio are currently the best of the rest and, with a game in hand over their rivals, can move within just three points of Juventus should they win it. Another emphatic 5-1 victory over Sampdoria at the weekend saw the Eagles pick up their 11th win in their last 12 matches – a mightily impressive feat – and they have lost just two league games all campaign.
But can they really challenge the gargantuan force that is I Bianconeri? Well, Lazio have already beaten Juventus twice this season, both 3-1 victories in Serie A and the Supercoppa respectively. Impressive performances on both occasions have highlighted not only the decline in standards at the Allianz, but a significant improvement from Simone Inzaghi’s team.
Lazio have not won a Scudetto since 1999/00, but their exit from the Europa League may also aid them in their bid for an allusive Serie A title. The Rome-based side took Europe’s second biggest competition with a pinch of salt, and their absence from Thursday night football will undoubtedly serve them well heading in to the latter stages of the season.
Meanwhile, both Inter and Juventus will be alternating between midweek and weekend fixtures, with the latter willing to sacrifice anything and everything for a Champions League trophy.
The real reason Lazio can fight for the title, however, is down to one man: Ciro Immobile.
The 29-year-old striker has scored a staggering 23 Serie A goals this term in just 19 matches, and his hat-trick at the weekend moved him seven goals clear of Cristiano Ronaldo and nine clear of Lukaku. The attacker has never quite captured the imagination at international level, and has struggled outside of Italy, but his quality and confidence in the Italian top flight knows no bounds.
Immobile is well on course to match, or even break, the current record of goals scored in a single Serie A season, achieved by Gonzalo Higuain with Napoli in 2015/16. The Argentine scored 36 goals to win the
I Biancocelesti currently boast the best goal difference in the division, with only Atalanta having scored more, and Inter having conceded fewer. The Eagles have a wealth of talent running through their team with notable mentions for Luis Alberto – who has 11 assists and three goals in Serie A – and the incredibly talented Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
But it’s Immobile’s proficiency in front of goal that could be the difference for Lazio in the title race, and end their long wait to be kings of Italy.