"He is currently the best No9 in the world," says the Lazio man of Bayern's spearhead.
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Top scorer in Europe’s domestic leagues last season with a phenomenal 36 Serie A goals for Lazio, Ciro Immobile has brought his shooting boots to the UEFA Champions League, hitting five as his team booked a place in the competition's spring phase for the first time since 2000/01.
Lazio's round of 16 opener against Bayern now brings the 30-year-old face-to-face with Robert Lewandowski, the man he denied the ESM Golden Shoe last term. Immobile talks UEFA.com through that battle of the super-strikers, and how Lazio striking great Simone Inzaghi is helping bring the best out of him.
On facing holders Bayern
It’s right to consider [this tie] a prize. Facing the best [clubs] gives you satisfaction and extra motivation. Obviously, it will be a very difficult game. We will try to do our best in the two legs, aware that we won't change our style of play. We will always do what we know, and we know that we will have to give something extra to achieve the perfect game.
They're a very [attack-minded] team, who play quick, total football, so it will be difficult for us to stop their attacks; then we'll look to cause them problems in their weak spots. It’s clear we won’t have as many chances as in previous games, so we have to be focused on taking advantage of them.
We’re going up against the winners of last year's Champions League. It will be essential for us to understand every aspect of this game; however it finishes, though, we have to be pleased with the work we've done in the Champions League. Getting here after 20 years is a big result for the club and a source of happiness.
On Robert Lewandowski
What do I like most about Robert Lewandowski? The fact he is never satisfied. Every year he tries to improve and go beyond his limits, even if they are already exceptional. He is a complete striker. I think he is currently the best No9 in the world, so we have to be very careful. It was crazy to beat him in the race for the Golden Boot. To challenge great players like him and [Cristiano] Ronaldo brought me great happiness.
On Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi
Because he was a striker, our coach prefers to play offensively, which makes it easier for us strikers. This is very important. As we have seen, our style of play, both in Serie A and in the Champions League, has always been entertaining and attacking. We aim to score more goals than our opponent rather than [worry about] conceding them. So, from this point of view, I have a great advantage.
[Simone Inzaghi] knew how to play with his team-mates, even though sometimes, playing as a striker, he preferred to provide assists than to score. Sometimes he gives me advice about this. Has he told me about him scoring four goals in a UEFA Champions League game? Yes, he often does! He mostly tells me a few days before we play in the Champions League.
On the traits of a great striker
Being selfish is one common trait in strikers. When you have the net in front of you, you can’t think about anything else. Strikers have an instinct to score at any cost, and it sometimes means you make impulsive decisions that can be wrong at that moment. Many of my goals come from teamwork, passages of play, and other goals come from pure instinct.
Do I have superstitions? Yes, certainly. Everyone has their superstitions, especially as I’m from southern Italy. I try to follow the same routine when I play a game. I want to score every time, but I know it is not always possible, so I try to stay focused on team play – particularly on those days I’m not [sharp] enough to score.