ST PETERSBURG • Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi has revealed he had only 13 players available due to injuries and Covid-19 cases for their 1-1 away draw with Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“It is very satisfying to have a group like this and it is difficult to ask for more,” said the Italian, who faced an identical problem at Belgium’s Club Brugge a week ago in Group F but got the same result.
“We played the last two Champions League away games with 13 players; this morning (defender) Luiz Felipe was also having trouble walking but we are going beyond all expectations.
“It’s frustrating to be in these conditions, it’s very difficult and we hope to get some players back.”
Lazio said before they left Italy, several members of their squad had tested positive for Covid-19.
They were not named but goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, midfielder Lucas Leiva and leading scorer and European Golden Shoe winner Ciro Immobile were among those who stayed behind.
Uefa’s official line-up showed 22 players in the Lazio squad that travelled to Russia although at least half a dozen were from the youth team.
There has since been confusion over the tests conducted by Uefa and Serie A as Immobile and Leiva were missing against Brugge and Zenit yet played in a Serie A match away to Torino in between.
The duo, along with Strakosha, who was on the bench at Torino, were allowed to feature as their swab tests were negative.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) on Tuesday opened an investigation into Lazio over potential violations of Covid-19 protocols when carrying out testing.
It inspected Lazio’s sport centre near Rome, seizing the results of swab tests on players, and has requested an explanation from the Italian club’s management, including owner and president Claudio Lotito and medic Ivo Pulcini.
According to Italian daily Corriere dello Sport, Torino have also asked the FIGC to get to the bottom of the matter.
Newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that if found guilty, the penalties “range from fines, penalties, relegation to last place and even exclusion from the championship”.
It added: “The seriousness of the violation is assessed according to the health risk for players, staff, referees and all professionals exposed to the infection from Covid-19 as well as the ‘ascertained intention to alter the course or the result of a match of competition’.”
But before Wednesday’s fixture, Lazio’s sporting director Igli Tare said the club had acted in good faith and collaborated fully with the FIGC, before suggesting there was a difference between Serie A testing and the tests done by Uefa.
“There’s something that’s not right,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “In my opinion, we need uniformity, only in this way can we move forward. Otherwise, we will be here discussing this every week.”
Corriere dello Sport said that the N gene was detected in Immobile’s swab test, with Uefa determining that diagnosis as Covid-positive.
However, Lazio consider the N gene to be part of the coronavirus family but separate from Covid-19, and Lotito is threatening to hit Uefa with a “possible lawsuit” for excluding Strakosha, Leiva and Immobile.