Sometimes players just mesmerise you with their performance. No matter what the opposition try to do to stop their influence they still come out on top. They’re simply unplayable on the day. Ciro Immobile had one of those performances against AC Milan on Sunday when his ten minute hat trick put the game beyond Milan’s reach. He then followed his third strike with an excellent assist for Luis Alberto’s clinching 4-0 strike. Below I take a look at his performance against Vincenzo Montella’s men.
Immobile has finally found what seems to be a permanent home after bouncing around clubs in Italy and Europe since a superb breakthrough campaign at Pescara under Zdenek Zeman in 2011-12 alongside Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Insigne. He joined Lazio last year and was the top scorer under Simone Inzaghi with 23 league goals, his best ever Serie A tally. In Inzaghi’s flexible tactics, Immobile has been either the lone striker in a 4-3-3 or as part of a duo in a 3-5-2. Against Milan, Inzaghi opted for a 5-3-1-1 which you can see below with Immobile as the lone striker supported by Luis Alberto in front of a midfield three of Marco Parolo, Lucas Leiva and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Milan came into the came in a 4-3-3 where Immobile’s main opponents where centre-back duo Leonardo Bonucci and Mateo Musacchio.
Milan started the game in control and took charge of possession straight away. This meant Lazio, as they’re comfortable doing, sat back and awaited the opportunity to counter-attack. There was an early scare for Milan when Immobile exploited their high defensive line but couldn’t get on the end of Alberto’s pass. Immobile highlighted his strength and speed when receiving the ball deep into his own half, turning Biglia before accelerating away from the Argentine and starting a sprint against Musacchio. The centre-back managed to stop the Italian on this occasion, but Immobile’s confidence was clear to see.
Lazio grew into the game and when Luis Alberto was brought down in the penalty area in 37th minute, Immobile stepped up to blast the penalty beyond Gianluigi Donnarumma to give the Biancoceleste the lead. Just a few minutes later, Immobile would double the lead. Milinkovic-Savic wandered in from the left with Milan right-back Davide Calabria in close pursuit. The Serbian received the ball, played it out to the right and continued his run into the box. Due to Calabria following Milinkovic-Savic centrally, Immobile moved towards the left with Bonucci following. As Senad Lulic prepared to cross the ball, Bonucci took a few steps towards the middle while Immobile held his position which meant when the cross was swung in Bonucci couldn’t reach it. Immobile capitalised and volleyed home his second in emphatic fashion. The whole sequence is illustrated below.
Lazio came out for the second half pumped with confidence and added their third after barely three minutes. Once again it was Immobile on target. Lulic skipped past Calabria before firing in a low cross to Parolo. The Italian midfielder controlled the ball a few yards out from goal and immediately attracted pressure from both Musacchio and Ricardo Rodriguez. Sensing the space just in front of goal, Immobile made a little run in behind the defenders and Parolo’s lay-off was perfectly weighted. One touch to control with his right before finishing with his left. 3-0. Ten-minute hat trick for Immobile.
When the Milan back-four thought it couldn’t get worse, Immobile would humiliate them again as his majestic performance grew even more. Milan, desperately, tried a long ball which was easily dealt with by Lazio’s defence. The ball travelled to Alberto who had Bonucci right behind him in a questionable pressing action from the defender. Note the high positioning of Calabria, Bonucci and Rodriguez in the video below. The loose ball ended up at Parolo’s feet and he launched a long ball towards Immobile who had been left one on one with Musacchio due to Bonucci’s reckless pressing action. Alberto sensed the opportunity, ran forward in support of Immobile who played the pass at the exact right moment to set the Spaniard up for the fourth goal of the afternoon for Lazio.
Milan pulled a goal back to make it 4-1, but Lazio came closer to adding to their lead than Milan came to reducing it. Immobile had another big chance when he once again exploited the extremely high line and disjointed defending of Milan to run one on one with Bonucci, embarrassed the celebrated defender with a simple feint but fired wide of Donnarumma’s post. Bonucci’s helplessness in the situation against the on-fire Immobile was symbolic for the game in total as Lazio ran out comfortable 4-1 winners.
Ciro Immobile proved too hot to handle for Milan with a superb individual display. Immobile’s strength, pace, finishing and intelligence proved too much for the Milanese giants as he ran them ragged at the back and ruthlessly exploited any defensive mistakes. Simone Inzaghi’s excellent work at Lazio continues and with Immobile in this sort of form, four goals in three matches now, Lazio can improve on last season’s fifth spot. They have their awaited European return this week and will once again look to Immobile for goals. If he can continue his form he can also gain individual honours this term and improve on last season’s tally of 23. Bonucci and Musacchio can testify to his quality.