• Analysis

Introducing Ciro Immobile – Ronaldo’s new rival?

Ciro Immobile, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lazio, Juventus, Serie A
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Ciro Immobile is smashing the European scoring charts, and will surely cause Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus problems in Saturday’s Serie A clash.

Prior to the start of the season, many experts tipped Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Serie A Golden Boot. However, it’s a Lazio player named Ciro Immobile who has instead taken centre-stage.

The Italian has scored a stunning 17 goals in just 14 league outings this season. It puts him a comfortable seven goals ahead of nearest rival Lukaku in the scoring charts, with Ronaldo only on six.

What’s even more impressive, however, is Immobile’s five assists, especially as Lukaku hasn’t managed even one in comparison.

In fact, out of all the top-five Serie A scorers this season, only Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez has registered an assist. And that’s only one.

It’s just another clear sign of how much Immobile has raised his game.

A miraculous turnaround

SS Lazio v Udinese Calcio - Serie A
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Just over a year ago, the Italian supporters had grown weary of Immobile and his constant goal struggles for the national team.

The future seemed bleak for the Lazio forward, with even Roberto Mancini losing patience. In fact, the Azzuri boss warned him that either the goals start coming or he could lose his spot in the team.

Fortunately, though, Immobile ended his two-year drought for Italy by scoring in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Finland in September. 

He hasn’t looked back since, and is now the most in-form striker across all of Europe. 

Furthermore, the Italy international’s 17 goals this term is already two more than what he managed in the previous Serie A campaign.

WhoScored stats also show that Immobile has only averaged 3.7 shots per game in his 1,117 minutes of Serie A football. Meanwhile, Lukaku and Ronaldo have averaged on 5.5 and 6 shots respectively.

Although the Italian is taking nothing for granted.

“Who are the most formidable rivals for the top scorer award? I think Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo,” he told Corriere dello Sport last month.

“Ronaldo will surely score some hat-tricks so he will rise up the chart and he will be in the running.

“Andrea Belotti and Duvan Zapata are also strong. It is always difficult to win this title in Italy as there are so many strong attackers.”

Immobile has also managed to get 27 of his 43 shots taken this season on target. And, when you take into account his 17 goals, that means he’s nearly scored 40% of all his attempts on goal.

While only Lazio team-mate Luis Alberto and Lorenzo Pellegrini of AS Roma have managed more assists.

How far can Immobile go?

It was just a week ago when everyone was hailing Robert Lewandowski as a rival for Lionel Messi and Ronaldo.

But the big Pole had a rare off-game in Bayern Munich’s shock defeat to Bayer Leverkusen last weekend. Immobile, on the other hand, delivered another man of the match display by scoring twice in Lazio’s 3-0 win over Udinese. 

The 29-year-old, therefore, overtook Lewandowski as the leader for the European Golden Shoe on 34 points on the Transfermarkt board.

So it looks like Immobile could pick up quite a few individual awards this season.

Aside from that, of course, the Italian has fired Lazio into a solid third-place in the Serie A standings. It marks a huge jump from their eight-place finish last term.

While a first Champions League appearance since 2007/08 is looking like a real possibility.

The Biancocelesti are also the Serie A’s second-highest scoring on 33 goals, with only 14 goals conceded in their 14 games.

And, with the likes of Immobile, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Alberto leading the charge, the future looks bright for the capital club.