Felipe Anderson was once again the protagonist as Lazio dispatched fellow Champions League hopefuls Fiorentina on Monday night. The Brazilian was unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet but was a constant threat down the flanks as he bamboozled Vincenzo Montellaa s defence to earn a penalty in the second half. An inspired Neto in the Fiorentina goal was the only reason he failed to score that night as he was denied three times in the first half. This was not the first occasion this season where Felipe Anderson ran the show for the Biancocelesti. He was similarly decisive against Sampdoria with a goal and two assists where the opposition manager Sinisa Mihajlovic felt they were up against a Cristiano Ronaldoa . Anderson has quite simply been one of the best performers in Serie A this term and a major reason why Lazio are now in third place just four points behind their arch rivals AS Roma.
Anderson was born and raised in the town of Santa Maria in central Brazil. He moved around several local youth sides before joining Parana in 2006. He barely spent one year there and subsequently moved to Santos in 2007. He made his debut at the age of 17 and became a regular in 2012 season under the tutelage of Muricy Ramalho. His reputation in his homeland was a bit tainted after Brazila s first round elimination from the 2013 South American U20 championship but Lazio were closely monitoring his progress and presented an offer shortly afterwards. However, paperwork issues stopped the transfer from being completed but Lazio returned in the summer of 2013 and agreed to pay eight million euros to secure his services. The Brazilian signed a five-year contract but carried an ankle injury when he arrived in Rome which complicated his adaptation process. He found it difficult to settle in a new country; the language barrier was a problem while he struggled to cope up with the tactical responsibilities of his new team. As a result he gained weight and made literally zero impact in his first 13 games last season. The Brazilian was once again in and out of the side in the current campaign under new manager Stefano Pioli but finally got a chance to showcase himself after an injury to Antonio Candreva in late November. It must be said that he has taken his chance brilliantly with a series of match-winning displays which has helped the capital side to rise third in the table.
Despite a difficult start and reports of a problematic attitude, Lazio sporting director Igli Tare defended the Brazilian in these tough situations and Anderson has repaid the Albanian with some stunning performances. The Lazio number seven was simply irresistible against Inter Milan at the San Siro while he was the chief architect when Lazio dismantled Atalanta at the Olimpico. He completed an incredible eight take-ons during that game while his positioning and movement off the ball was simply too much to handle for the Atalanta defence. He was instrumental in the Rome Derby as well although Totti might have grabbed the headlines with his brace and selfie, it was Anderson who ran the show in the first half. While his left footed pile-driver was stunning, his exquisite assist for club captain Stefano Mauri was nothing short of extraordinary. Anderson is a bright, inventive two-footed attacking midfielder who is capable of playing centrally or wide. Lazio claim he is the fastest player in Serie A and he has certainly used his speed and technical abilities to good effect so far on the pitch. He is a prolific dribbler and boasts high success rate of beating the defender in a one-on-one situation. Italian media have branded him an a Illuminatia a a player capable of illuminating any match with a moment of sublime skill or turn of pace. Anderson has outshone Lazioa s talisman Antonio Candreva this season with a string of scintillating displays. He has already scored seven times and registered six assists to his name this season and Lazio still have 15 games left to play currently in third position in the league and travelling to Naples with a 1-1 result in the Coppa Italia semifinal second leg. Bewitching opponents with his electrifying blend of skill, pace and trickery, Anderson has been a joy to watch.
Anderson is a very hardworking player on the pitch always willing to help out in defence and has actually won more tackles than any other Lazio forwards this season. He uses his pace to track opposition fullbacks although sometimes he is required as an outlet for the counter attack. Small in stature, Anderson rarely attacks the penalty area although his first touch is excellent. His lovely cushioned touch past Andrea Ranocchia for his opening goal against Inter Milan before Christmas was an illustration of the quality he possesses. He really has very good, quick feet in tight areas although his passing needs to improve particularly his final ball. Anderson does not make runs off the ball instead he prefers the ball to his feet and takes on his man. The Brazilian has never been a prolific goal scorer but certainly has the attributes and composure in front of goal to make a difference on a regular basis. He strikes the ball cleanly and has a dangerous long-range shot. Anderson is a a Velocistaa whose primary attribute is his speed but he himself wants a playmaker role. On the pitch he is the one who can break a tight defensive wall in front of him and although he started as a winger in a 4-3-3, Pioli has recently used him in a Christmas tree formation alongside Antonio Candreva behind the lone striker Miroslav Klose or Filip A?or evi .
Anderson endured a difficult start to his career in Italy but with the support of his family and club he has now settled, and Lazio are starting to reap the rewards for their continued patience. He is high on confidence and his excellent form has drawn praise from various quarters. Opposition teams will be more careful now though and will make adjustments to deny him any space to operate. Marking will tighten and the 21-year-old will have to step up to continue making a difference. Tough challenges await; there are still flaws in his game that need to be worked on. He has the technical attributes to succeed but ultimately his desire to improve will be the decisive factor.