Lazio are set for a sterling season with one foot in the semi-finals of the Europa League and other in next season’s Champions League, thanks in part to Lucas Leiva
Lucas Leiva is returning to his glory days in Italy with Lazio, after it seemed that his best was well behind him, having lost his spark at Liverpool. Meanwhile, countryman Felipe Anderson has been just as important over the past few games for the Serie A club. Lazio’s Brazilian duo are a delightf to watch, with the club edging closer to booking a ticket to the semi-finals of the Europa League.
Lucas Leiva and Felipe Anderson both played a crucial part by delivering an assist and scoring a brilliant solo goal respectively, in Lazio’s 4-2 victory over Red Bull Salzburg in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash. The midfield veteran is now on four goal involvements in his last five games. A footballer who had only scored two goals throughout his Liverpool career, has now beaten this record in merely a couple of matches for the Serie A side.
With his solid interceptions, intelligent reading of the game and decent passing-range, Leiva has been one of the best defensive midfielders in Serie A this season, helping the fans of the Italian capital outfit forget the loss of former captain, Argentina international Lucas Biglia who left them to the north of the country, where he joined AC Milan.
As for Felipe Anderson, his brilliant series of dribbles to give Lazio the 3-2 lead against Salzburg was a reminder to everyone as to why his name had been linked with so many clubs before he picked up a serious injury that left him out for months.
The 24-year-old is now on six goals and nine assists across all competitions this season, despite having missed the majority of the campaign for various reasons, most importantly injury as well as a locker-room conflict with manager Simone Inzaghi.
It is reportedly Lucas who once intervened between the two to stop a heated conversation which could have had severe consequences – although the former Santos-man is considered the older player at the club – which goes to show you the importance of the friendship between the two Brazilians, and how it could have saved the season.
Lazio are still fighting for a Champions League spot in Italy after Sunday’s victory over Udinese, and have the upper hand in their Europa League tie after winning the home leg 4-2. Fans could not have wished for any better. It will be extremely interesting to see how they finish the season and how their ever-growing Brazilian contingent can increase their chances of silverware. Besides the above-mentioned duo, it is worth noting that Wallace and Luiz Felipe are starting to gain extra game time. These two young faces could potentially grow in confidence and help the team next season.
Unfortunately for both Lucas Leiva, who might have made the move a year too late, and Felipe Anderson who spent the majority of the first half of the season injured, their World Cup ticket may well have already been taken away from them because of these factors. However, it is still good news for Brazilian footballers to see two players plying their trade at such a high level in Italy.