Not long left now, so allow me to briefly update you on how A.S. Roma and more importantly how we will be lining up tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »
Job done against Palermo, Sculli gets his goal balance rolling, Ledesma is showing his quality again and A.S. Roma capitulates disastrously in Europe. Surely the omens are good for this derby?
Two teams will be meeting tomorrow who both have a bad memory to erase. Lazio merely suffered frustration last weekend whilst Palermo suffered total abject humiliation. Our beloved ex-manager Delio Rossi was relieved of his position on the rosanero bench where he leaves a legacy of good attacking football, positive memories and a slight feeling of disappointment and wondering what if? Read the rest of this entry »
With two wins on the trot and a couple of favourable results with most of the teams around us Lazio are back on the right path. A convincing win away to Brescia followed by a regulation home win against Bari is the exact return we should have been looking for from these two matches.
Without creating too much we dominated possession and the play in an away match and I was personally very pleased to see Gonzalez rewarded for his efforts with his debut goal in Serie A and to see Kozák continue his personal good form with a fine towering header to seal the win. Read the rest of this entry »
The draw last week with Chievo was not the required result and the performance was not up to scratch either. We are still encountering the same problems; the attack is playing nowhere near the level it should be and as a team we do not attack well enough as a group.
Lazio: Muslera; Lichtsteiner, Biava, Dias, Radu (Scaloni 18); Brocchi, Matuzalém, Bresciano; Hernanes (Sculli 69); Zárate (Mauri 78), Kozák
Chievo: Sorrentino; Sardo (Morero 72), Frey, Cesar, Mantovani; Fernandes, Guana (Pulzetti 62), Jokic; Bogliacino; Pellissier, Moscardelli (Thereau 46) Read the rest of this entry »
On Tuesday night we sent a rather patched-up squad up north to Milano to play league leaders A.C. Milan and came home with our goal intact, which when considering the calibre of attacking players and the denouement of the game seemed to be nothing short of a miracle.
Milan: Abbiati; Oddo, Bonera (Legrottaglie 46) (Papastathopoulos 84), Yepes, Antonini; Flamini, Thiago Silva, Emanuelson; Robinho; Pato (Cassano 63), Ibrahimović
Lazio: Muslera; Lichtsteiner, Dias, Biava, Radu; Brocchi, Ledesma, Gonzalez (Bresciano 74); Hernanes; Kozák, Sculli (Mauri 80) Read the rest of this entry »
This has been a generally very disappointing fortnight for Laziale on several fronts. First off let me apologise for my absence the last week, I started a new job 10 days ago and haven’t had time to check the comments let alone post something new so, sorry.
I don’t think we need to dredge up everything from the derby, the bitter poison having mostly departed, but I will say this: When are we going to catch a break? We dominated that game pretty much from start to finish (especially the first half) but just could not capitalise (a recurring issue). On the other hand, when is Rioma’s luck going to run out? Who knows but at this moment it is getting ridiculous. When even self-avowed Rioma fans are publicly admitting (James Richardson of the Guardian and ex-Football Italia presenter for example) that their luck has to end soon you know it’s too much. Rioma have now had 3 penalties awarded against us this season and the only one I can agree with was the one we saw last week. The little drop of lady luck for Simplicio’s goal was merely the salt in the wound.
What was most disappointing was that on the day we were the much better team, our control of the ball was sharper, we made more chances but that doesn’t change the result and it is just another bitter pill that we have to swallow. Goodbye la Coppa Italia.
The Bologna game, however, was a bloody shambles. For the first time this season I’ve seen Dias have an awful game, which really makes you realise how influential he is on our team currently. I switched off with 5 minutes to go I was so angry at the way our discipline crumbled, turned it on again just to see Di Vaio put the finishing touches on our Scudetto hopes. Of course, Mudingayi was quality against us and we deserved the loss completely. We’ve only turned in 3 or 4 genuinely poor performances all season and that was one of them. The passing was literally all over the place, the defending embarrassing and the finishing (particularly by Zárate) was woeful. The only positive was seeing Sergio back on the scorecard with a delightful goal.
This weekend against Fiorentina was certainly a better result and performance but I believe it just masked some shortfalls in our squad. We had dozens of chances, the passing was crisp and decent and we allowed Fiorentina very few chances but don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that that was a good Fiorentina side, they’ve been poor all season and they were shocking against us on Saturday. I must say I was delighted to see Kozák get his name on the score sheet, but I was most pleased with the nature of the second goal. You could see how happy Sculli was to have helped the team because before Saturday he had endured a miserable beginning to his Lazio career. It was a quality chipped cross for a Sunday school finish to Kozák. It’s starting to look like Libor is a genuine poacher, and if that’s the case we have to make sure the midfield gives him quality to feed on because he has shown that he’ll put away every easy chance.
I have an unfortunate sneaky suspicion though that these goals from Kozák have persuaded Lotito to not spend on another striker as we are currently the 31st and unless a bombshell is dropping this evening, our mercato business is done. We signed a couple of youngsters but unfortunately I can’t give you anything more solid about them than this: Ojiakor Chukwuemeka is a 21 year old Ghanaian defensive midfielder who to date has only ever played for the Primavera at Triestina. The other is young 18 year old goalkeeper Lorenzo Mosciatti, signed from Tor Sapienza, a local Roman team so chances are he’s a local lad.
We have also loaned out our young Belgian Cavanda to Torino on loan until the end of the season which I can understand in the context of giving the boy some playing time but as we didn’t sign Ziegler we might end up looking light at full-back (I’m looking at you Garrido, where are you?).
So we enter February with a lighter squad as we have brought one man in, let one go but we have lots of injury worries currently so we’re really going to have to hope that Reja has approved this and knows what he’s doing.
And tonight we have A.C. Milan at the San Siro.
Due to injuries, suspension and tiredness, this is the squad we’re looking at tonight:
LAZIO (4-3-1-2): 86 Muslera; 2 Lichtsteiner, 3 Dias, 20 Biava, 26 Radu; 32 Brocchi, 24 Ledesma, 15 Gonzalez; 8 Hernanes; 18 Kozák, 77 Sculli
Squad: 12 Berni, 13 Stendardo, 5 Scaloni, 6 Mauri, 23 Bresciano, 11 Matuzalem, 17 Foggia
Notice the total absence of strikers on our bench, but at least we have Mauri to bring on to change the game in the second half.
MILAN (4-3-1-2): 32 Abbiati; 17 Oddo, 25 Bonera, 76 Yepes, 77 Antonini; 16 Flamini, 33 Thiago Silva, 28 Emanuelson; 70 Robinho; 7 Pato, 11 Ibrahimović
Squad: 30 Roma, 35 Dídac, 15 Sokratis, 66 Legrottaglie, 52 Merkel, 18 Jankulovski, 99 Cassano
Milan are also struggling badly with injuries, particularly at the back so I really believe despite the gulf between Ibrahimović and most of the rest of Serie A, I think we can get more than just a result tonight. The Lazio staff are talking up our chances and how we will be aggressive tonight, let’s hope that that will be the case. More importantly, if it is the case then let’s be more precise with our finishing tonight.
Lastly, let me just apologise again for the tardiness of this edition, like I said I have had an unbelievably hectic and tiring week but I’ll be back later this week before the weekend. I would also like to quickly reiterate that if anyone wants to help on this blog it would be more than welcome, I would love this blog to have 2+ posts a week but currently that is just impossible.
A.C. Milan vs S.S. Lazio
Tuesday 1 February
Just a short update for the brothers this evening, but it is an important night tonight.
We bagged the right result this weekend and I’m so glad that Kozák proved me and Tare wrong.
Lazio: Muslera; Lichtsteiner, Dias, Diakité, Scaloni; Brocchi (Gonzalez 77), Ledesma, Hernanes (Foggia 90); Mauri; Floccari (Kozák 77); Zárate
Sampdoria: Curci; Dessena, Volta, Accardi, Ziegler; Koman, Tissone (Poli 68), Palombo, Guberti (Mannini 76); Pazzini, Pozzi (Macheda 71)
Bookings: Lichtsteiner (L), Kozák (L); Dessena (S), Accardi (S), Pazzini (S)
We dominated the game on Sunday without ever really imposing our passing game on the match but we were playing against a team designed to stifle and we were up against a defence which is equal to ours in terms of goals conceded this season. So negativity is not needed, we got the win and there were positives to boot.
Libor Kozák gave us exactly what we needed, when we needed it. Floccari’s form is a topic for another day but when he wasn’t doing it, Libor stepped up in the way a substitute striker needs to. It remains to be seen whether he’s done enough to keep his status but it’s an encouraging sign for this season. Personally I also felt that Diakité was a beast on Sunday, it was the type of performance I’ve been hoping for from him. What I want from him is consistency; let’s hope he can give it to us.
In other news, Giuseppe Sculli is a Lazio player; he will take the number 77 (7+7=14, his preferred number) and he has cost €3.5m which will paid in two instalments. And yes, he is available tonight.
What’s happening tonight then?
There’s not been the same build-up at all as this is a cup match which means that normally there won’t be first elevens out there. But make no mistake, the pride is at stake and by God some revenge for the last derby would be sweet. So let’s hope to see the wolves leaving la Coppa and let the eagle soar. And judging by the predicted teams there will be strong teams on display tonight.
ROMA (4-3-1-2): 27 Julio Sergio; 87 Rosi, 29 N. Burdisso, 5 Mexes, 17 Riise; 16 De Rossi, 30 Simplicio, 20 Perrotta; 94 Menez; 22 Borriello, 9 Vucinic.
Squad: (32 Doni, 77 Cassetti, 25 G. Burdisso, 4 Juan, 23 Greco, 33 Brighi, 8 Adriano) – Ranieri
LAZIO (4-3-1-2): 12 Berni; 2 Lichtsteiner, 3 Dias, 20 Biava, 26 Radu; 32 Brocchi, 24 Ledesma, 15 Gonzalez; 8 Hernanes; 18 Kozak, 10 Zarate.
Squad: (1 Bizzarri, 21 Diakitè, 5 Scaloni, 23 Bresciano, 6 Mauri, 22 Floccari, 77 Sculli) – Reja
Injured: Rocchi, Matuzalém, Garrido
A.S. Roma vs. S.S. Lazio
Wednesday 19 January
It’s been a long week and a half so far in 2011 for Laziale as we have not had any good news on the playing or mercato front but we have to stay optimistic as all the realistic goals we had for this season are still open, even if the Scudetto dream is now a long shot, it always was anyway.
So what has January had in store for us so far? Well I had somehow forgotten that the 6th of January is a religious holiday in Italy and therefore missed this match but for all those who took time on their day of rest will have been disappointed to not see any goals.
Genoa: Eduardo; Mesto, Kaladze, Dainelli, Criscito; Rafinha, Milanetto, Rossi; Jankovic (Moretti 86); Destro (Boakye 89), Toni
Lazio: Muslera; Lichtsteiner, Biava, Dias, Radu; Ledesma, Brocchi (Matuzalém 76); Zárate, Hernanes (Bresciano 83), Mauri; Floccari (Kozák 87)
Bookings: Dias (L), Biava (L)
The month kicked-off with what by all accounts was a dull but not too shameful away goalless draw at Genoa. Lazio only had a few chances but a couple did look golden and maybe should have been dealt with. From what you guys have posted we were seemingly under heavy pressure for the last portion of the game but then you could argue that we were away at a team with whom we thought we would be competing with this season. So this season still can depend on context.
Lazio: Muslera; Lichtsteiner (Foggia 85), Stendardo, Biava, Radu; Ledesma, Brocchi; Zárate, Hernanes (Bresciano 68), Mauri (Kozák 75); Floccari
Lecce: Rosati; Gustavo, Tomovic, Fabiano, Mesbah; Grossmüller, (Ferrario 86), Vives, Bertolacci (Coppola 69); Munari, Jeda; Ofere (Corvia 36)
Bookings: Biava (L), Mauri (L), Munari (Le), Grossmüller (Le)
A few days later however and real misery was piled on our heads, to go with a dose of shame. It should have been a great occasion, Lazio’s 111th birthday and a day to celebrate. What actually happened was that Lecce instead led the celebrations by recording their 100th Serie A win (according to the commentator) whilst we turned in a performance as bad as the one at Cesena, except this time we had pretty much our first team out there.
There certainly was some bad luck involved but it was no excuse for the overall result, we made good chances and the finishing wasn’t up to scratch and the lack of concentration for their second goal was of a team that was losing the last 5 minutes of a cup final and not one that still had 20 minutes to equalise.
This match emphasised one thing: we urgently need a substitute striker. I still believe that our starting forwards are good enough but Kozák is just not yet at a level where he can sufficiently aid the team. We probably should have loaned him out and we certainly should have somebody on the books who can take the goalscoring pressure off of Zárate and Floccari. I personally still have faith in our boy Rocchi but whether that is shared by Reja or even by himself is another story.
Who could this man be? For a long while the name Roque Santa Cruz was the most bandied about and as I see almost as much English football as I do Italian I must say I wasn’t too enamoured with the prospect. No matter, he has joined Blackburn Rovers on loan. Other names linked are Georgios Samaras, Giuseppe Sculli, Pablo Granoche, Miroslav Klose, Erjon Bogdani and David Trezeguet. Some of these are clearly paper talk (such as Trezeguet, despite Hércules’ financial difficulties), Klose (who has mentioned several clubs who interest him). Samaras has stated he wants to leave Celtic but I think the press may have just put 2 and 2 together with this story; I don’t think we could pay him what he wants, he wouldn’t be satisfied on the bench and finally, he is awful. I really hope we don’t get him. Chievo have denied any Lazio approach for Granoche (a Uruguayan with a very poor scoring record) and the less said about Bogdani the better (Tare pt. II perhaps?).
That leaves the Calabrese Sculli. Now this deal seems very real and may almost be done. Tare says he’s in the final stages but then he says a lot of things. Sculli is not what we would be expecting as an incoming player as he more of an attacking midfielder/forward than an out and out striker but this could mean that Tare is speaking the truth when he says that we will bring in another attacker. What I could potentially see Sculli doing is filling in for Mauri when he’s tired or to play in Zárate’s current position allowing Mauro to operate more centrally. Let’s hope we can bring in Sculli from Genoa and get someone else in. Let’s also hope our good luck with Genoa purchases continues as Floccari and Biava have both been successes.
Tomorrow we may well have another homecoming in Lazio youth product Federico ‘Chicco’ Macheda coming back to the Olimpico for the first time, unfortunately wearing a different shade of blue. It is a shame we couldn’t have brought him in on loan as he might well have been the exact player we’re looking for currently but understandably would have been too fraught with difficulties. Also I don’t think I could bear watching him do well for us just to lose him again.
Last time we played Sampdoria we had to face a raging bull on the first day of the season, with Pazzini (now there’s a striker I wouldn’t mind getting in the mercato) and Cassano desperate to win a game. Now they’re just coming out of a rut whilst we need to put a stop to our poor form before it becomes a rut. They beat the 2nd team of Rome 2-1 last week but before that were in a Cassano mired pit of poor form. They have to learn to play without him and if they think Macheda is the guy to replace him I’ll be surprised. So let’s hope they’re still adjusting as a win is what we need at the moment.
Unfortunately we will be missing our left-footed (Omar) Radu to a fever which means we are presently looking to Scaloni to fill in. Honestly, I was not happy to see him return to the squad this summer but everybody deserves a chance and tomorrow will be his. Cavanda and Del Nero have also been called and may feature at left back. Garrido has not even been selected for the match day squad, if anybody knows anything about the man who is fast turning into a pure sicknote I’d love to hear it. Biava is not in the squad either as he is unfortunately suspended again so we will most likely see Diakité partnering Dias at the back.
Lichtsteiner, Diakité, Dias, Scaloni;
Zárate, Hernanes, Mauri;
I would like to also make an addendum to a point I made about Internazionale last week. I said that I am not considering their Scudetto and league ambitions until I see a bit of Leonardo’s Inter. Well we’ve seen it now and, yup, they’re back. Which just makes everything that bit harder. Shame we helped to get rid of Benitez.
Finally let me say this on the blog here. There is a continuation; just it will not be the same as before as I said. I perhaps wasn’t clear at the beginning. I will get something up every calendar week but more frequently than that is not going to be easy. If anyone really, genuinely, wants to help please let me know about it and we’ll see what we can do. I do hope you enjoy it but I understand if you are not as sated as before with Lazio news. I will try and do more than one post a week but cannot guarantee it at all. Just believe me when I say there will be something every calendar week, so don’t panic. And as noted in the comments there are plenty of people doing good work out there too so don’t neglect them. There is a continuation of the Lazio offside. Ciao belli.
S.S. Lazio vs. U.C. Sampdoria
Sunday 16th January 2011
With the short winter break almost over it is time to recap what little real news occurred over the last couple of weeks and to pontificate over what the second half of the season holds for us laziale.
Hernanes has claimed 2nd place in the Brazilian Samba d’Oro 2010 awards for the best Brazilian footballers playing in Europe – Maicon (Internazionale) came in first and Thiago Silva (AC Milan) in third. When you consider that Hernanes has only been in Europe since the summer, has been understandably tired and didn’t feature for the Seleção at the World Cup, this is quite an achievement. On second thoughts, missing the WC might have helped him back home, who knows?
Riccardo Perpetuini has left us for the south-east and Zeman’s spiritual home of Foggia. Let’s wish the kid all the best as I think the old maestro could use a passer of the ball like our Riccardo. It’s not official yet but he is already training with the Lega Pro side and has spoken to the press of his determination to do well, in bocca al lupo Ricca’.
So where does all this leave Lazio? Well, exactly where we were two weeks ago, there have not been any additions to the squad yet and as sad as I am to see Perpetuini leave us, it’s not like he was an integral squad member. Thus we shall imagine for a moment that our squad will remain unchanged for the month of January and we shall dream of what can be accomplished.
WHO ARE WE?
We are Lazio and we are challenging for the top spots in Italy. To finish outside of the Champions League places now would be more than bitterly disappointing and quite frankly I would be rather peeved at anything lower than third. That is not to dismiss the qualities of our rivals but acknowledge our own qualities. I remember this point last year telling people that Lichtsteiner was a steam train that never run out of coal, that Radu has the potential to be one of Europe’s great defenders, that Ledesma, despite not playing, was a metronome of superior quality and that Muslera was the finest keeper under the age of 25 in the game. But who would have believed me then? We are now January 2011.
Fernando Muslera showed everybody at the World Cup his qualities (and failings) and to be honest he has not been up to par this season, which truly is a testament to the qualities of our new centre-back pairing. We now have Biava and Dias anchoring the back line giving us the 4th tightest defence in the league, which is a wonderful change from last season. I can remember off the top of my head individual errors from Cavanda and Muslera and without those we would be even better but if there’s one thing you can guarantee from young footballers it is occasional inconsistency.
Lichti has had the season we expected from him – and more. He gave us the running we have grown accustomed to, hence his nickname ‘Forrest Gump’, but he has grown in terms of defensive solidity and attacking prowess. I think we may owe a small debt of gratitude to Ottmar Hitzfeld for the former as our boy is also a mainstay of the Swiss national team these days too.
Radu has confirmed everything we thought about the boy and more. I don’t remember him playing his favoured centre-back role once all season yet he has been as steady as a rock and has the nous and confidence to make up for the things he lacks to be a truly great full-back. He’s not fast so he must use superior positioning to stay strong. He’s not left-footed either but I very rarely see that affect his game. I do sometimes wonder what we would look like a natural left-back but I fully understand Reja for not changing a winning formula. Let’s just hope that he stays long enough to replace Biava in the future as I can assure it’s not just the Lazio faithful who know about Radu’s qualities, Chelsea and Barcelona are just two teams regularly linked to him.
Ledesma – the conundrum. What to do eh? Until mid-November I thought we had our own Xavi-lite in the middle of the park. Of course, let’s not exaggerate, he is not Xavi but damn he can keep the ball well and he doesn’t shirk a tackle either. But something has happened. Whether it is a contract issue, an understandable unease in relations with the boardroom or a simple loss of form, Ledesma has been off the pace at the same time that Matuzalém has rediscovered his. I personally would love to keep the guy as I think the competition they provide each other is exactly what a squad dreaming of high places needs.
WHERE ARE WE?
The rest of the team tells different stories, this time last year Biava, Dias & Floccari were all new arrivals and therefore unknown quantities, and boy have they all come good. Reja came in February and immediately revitalised Mauri, if not yet the whole team. So now we have an almost watertight defence, a top quality midfield and attack partnership, when the first team is on the pitch. Oh, and who could forget the prophet who links these two things together with a little samba? Not to take any credit away from the other players of course, and one could also argue that so far Mauri has been better than Hernanes, but I think the act of purchasing a big-name player reminded the team that this is Lazio, this is a big team and we should all be doing a damn sight better.
Where are we? Joint second, three points off top spot (Napoli are one goal better than us in goal difference) and with the potential to fight all the way to the finish line as long as we a) don’t get an injury curse or b) solidify the squad enough in this window. Maybe I trust our boys too much but I don’t think we need a new striker unless he’s happy to be third choice.
WHAT ARE WE UP AGAINST?
Here comes the hard part, we will have a LOT of competition for any prize worth having this year. First things first – the Scudetto. IF we are to win this (and it is an if, albeit a small one) then obviously AC Milan are the prime opponents. And off the bat, they’re marginally stronger than us all over the park, except in attack where they are considerably stronger than us (he’s called Zlatan in case you were wondering). But there are a couple of things to cling on to; we know how much affection AC holds for the ECL and if they beat the Spurs then they may switch their priorities to that competition. This however is not a guarantee as they haven’t won the league since 2004. The other possibility is that old boys like Nesta, Ambrosini, Gattuso, Abbiati and Seedorf might begin to creak or tire. Lastly, there are a lot of combustible characters in their changing room and we all know what to do when you have a potential firecracker of a dressing room – throw Cassano into the mix. So we’ll see.
More realistically I think our rivals will be Napoli, Juventus, Palermo and sadly, but inevitably, Rioma.
Briefly, I think we’ll go toe to toe with our Parthenopean rivals until the end, Cavani and Lavezzi are rampant this season and will probably continue to paper over their few, if significant, cracks. The UEFA Cup is going to take it out of them though as they are desperate to make an impression on Europe as pride and la bella figura are very important things to the Neapolitans. If they keep winning games in the 90th to 97th minutes though, they’ll soon tire.
Juventus are Juventus. They will always cast their ominous black and white shadow over the league and their squad is certainly stronger and deeper than ours. However I think our first 11 is the stronger of the two, although that may well change when Buffon is back, which will be very soon, but they’ll still be rancid at full back, and Bonucci is still raw. Underestimate them at your peril though. Even with that guy in charge…
Palermo have some wonderful talents in the likes of Miccoli, Pastore and Iličič but whether they’re strong enough to go the distance is something we’ll have to see. It certainly cannot help Delio Rossi having that blowhard Zamparini blaring in his ear all season long.
Now before you think I’ve gone crazy, I haven’t written off Internazionale but I’m reserving any comment on them until I’ve seen what Leonardo has in store for us.
To end this segment on a sour note, we have to mention the resurgence of the 2nd team of the capital. Atletico Roma Football Club are soaring up the Lega Pro Prima Divisione – Girone B and have a tough match down south in Taranto, but not to worry they’re in full fighting form having recently knocked local rivals A.S. Rioma off their perch with a thrilling 3-2 victory. Highlights right here:
THE FIRST STEP – GENOA
Thursday the 6th January, at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris we’ll see if the turkey, wine and zampone have had a good or bad effect on our boys. According to our brothers at La Lazio siamo noi we’ll be playing, surprise surprise, a 4-2-3-1 consisting of:
LICHTSTEINER, BIAVA, DIAS, RADU
ZARATE, HERNANES, MAURI
There are some side stories to this game; Floccari will be desperate to score considering how quickly he was discarded by Genoa and of course we’ll be seeing Ballardini again. Our opponents are still worried by the injury problems which have hampered their season and they have been seriously weakened by the loss of Ranocchia to Inter this week so this is a match where we should in theory be punishing them. However sooner or later all of their glamorous signings have to gel so we must be vigilant that it doesn’t happen tomorrow. I’m going to arrogantly predict a comfortable win for our boys, to remind everyone that we are in this race for the return leg as well.
Genoa Cricket and Football Club vs. S.S. Lazio
Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris
Thursday 6th January 2011