It is criminal that while Robert Lewandowski has got immense praise for a high goalscoring season, Ciro Immobile hasn’t got enough of it. The Italian’s performances in the Serie A for Lazio have gone under-the-radar, despite him scoring a bucket of goals. He is a big reason for why Lazio are right in the Scudetto race this season too.
The biancocelesti are at third in the table with a game in hand on Inter and Juventus. They are four points behind the nerazzuri and six points behind the Old Lady. They’ve already beaten Juve twice this season and are currently on a ten-game unbeaten run. Their direct brand of football under Simone Inzaghi is finally coming of age and took about three seasons of development with the same set of players.
Immobile has found the back of the net 20 times in the league, racking up five assists. He looks well on his way to playing out his best campaign, in terms of goalscoring. But like the 2017-18 season, he has taken immense benefit from the performances of Sergey Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto.
The 2018-19 season was an average one for both of them. As a result, Immobile could only score 15 goals in the whole season. In the 2017-18 season, he was scoring for fun- like he is this season. He found the back of the net 29 times.
Like the 2017-18 season, Immobile is overperforming on his XG by 6.68. That season, he did it by over 7.00. But last season, the most probable chance of scoring that Immobile got had an XG of 0.43. His tally had four penalties, with the rest being finishes worth low worths. The underperformance of Alberto and Milinkovic-Savic had a role to play in that.
This season, he hasn’t exactly got too many high XG chances either. The highest of them was at 0.52 in a 3-0 win over Sampdoria. But he has scored eight penalties, putting away chances of less an XG as 0.07 and 0.08. That has always been a thing with him.
In the 2017-18 season, he didn’t score as much from tougher situations. The least XG goal he got was 0.04 but the amount of them was lesser than the last two campaigns. He had five chances of over 0.50 XG, bar eight goals from the spot. The process of scoring less likelier goals began from the 2018-19 season- when he didn’t score as much.
But this season, he has done a combination of both. Bar scoring from tougher areas, he is also scoring from highly likely areas too. And he has this impressive tally even without a single shot that has an XG of over 0.52.
Since Inzaghi’s system has come of age, Immobile has taken more shots per game this season than he ever has. His tally stands at 4.1 shots per game– the most he has ever taken in a single season of his career. That, along with the abilities of others, is helping Immobile get more assurance of finding the net. He is getting on the ball more too, picking up 1.7 key passes per game- the highest of his career.
Indeed, Alberto has picked up 11 assists– the highest in the league. The direct style sees Milinkovic-Savic get less involved in the build-up and he is found further forward more often than last season. This has led to him contributing to seven goals in the campaign. Joaquin Correa has scored six too, assisting once. The former Sevilla man brings a lot of pace to the plate, playing alongside Immobile in a 3-5-2 shape.
This is a mentally sound team too. The biancocelesti have scored the highest number of stoppage time goals this season- six. This has made sure that the club is tough to beat and resilient- something that teams are set to be wary of in the future, as the season wears on.
It can well be said that Immobile’s finishing has improved. But he isn’t the only reason for that. This is a coming of age of not just him, but for the whole of this side. He is set to be crucial for Italy in the upcoming European Championships too.
After scoring against Finland in the qualifiers, Immobile said: “I’ve got rid of something that was hanging around my neck. I really wanted to score. I’m getting my confidence back by scoring and I’m happy with this.”
That goal had come after a wait of two long years. If he gets the right service in the Euros, he will be a very important player for the Azzurri. Italy certainly have the players to feed him in with the right passes.