90min
Opinion

Ciro Immobile is still one of Europe's most underrated strikers

By Harry Symeou
Immobile has scored twice already at Euro 2020
Immobile has scored twice already at Euro 2020 / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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To those who follow Serie A closely, Italy and Ciro Immobile's fine start to Euro 2020 will come as no surprise.

The Azzurri have started the tournament brilliantly, registering back-to-back 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland to book their place in the round of 16 with a game to spare.

Lazio star Immobile has netted on both occasions, but generally the 31-year-old remains one of the most underappreciated strikers on the continent.

During the 2019/20 season, Immobile scored 36 Serie A goals in 37 appearances, matching the record previously set by Gonzalo Higuain and firing Lazio into the Champions League.

In many ways, the former Borussia Dortmund forward has since become a victim of the high standards he set during the aforementioned campaign, receiving heavy criticism after producing a lesser return this time around.

Last season he managed 20 league goals, an impressive return, but there were questions heading into the Euros over whether he could be trusted to lead the line for the Azzurri due to that drop off.

So far, he's proven his doubters wrong with some brilliantly rounded displays.

Playing as the central man of Roberto Mancini's front three means lots of Immobile's good work can go unnoticed. He often occupies defenders and creates spaces either side for the likes of Domenico Berardi and Lorenzo Insigne to operate in.

He's so much more than just a poacher and has an underrated ability to hold the ball up, allowing the Azzurri to flood the attacking third with bodies and the speed at which they're able to do that is one of their biggest strengths.

Dispossessed just once against the Swiss and not at all versus Turkey in the tournament opener, Immobile is incredibly assured when in possession, even in pressure situations.

Ciro Immobile
Ciro Immobile has scored 56 league goals for Lazio in the last two seasons / Marco Rosi/Getty Images

Strikers will inevitably be judged on the number of goals they score and in that sense, the 31-year-old is one of the elite. However, it's his overall game and willingness to do the ugly stuff along with that which elevates him to being one of Europe's finest players.

Immobile spent some time in Germany with Borussia Dortmund but it's fair to say his move to the Bundesliga didn't work out. He was sent out on loan to Sevilla who signed him a year later before loaning him to Torino. At that point in his career, it looked like he may have been heading down the route of a journeyman striker.

At Lazio, however, he's found a home and the fact he's not let the difficult times he faced abroad hold him back is a testament to his character and strong mentality. If he continues to perform on the international stage this summer, his reputation with the wider audience will only grow and perhaps then he'll get all of the credit he actually deserves.

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