Back on the right pathBy: Pepe | February 23rd, 2011
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.
Unfortunately due to a bit of moving and then losing my internet I was not able to see the match against Bari but by all accounts we should have scored a fair few more but as I missed the game I was just happy to see three points. Hernanes scored a fine finish and I think it’s just what he needed after his miserable Brazil experience.
With the League table reading Milan 55; Napoli 52, Inter 50; Lazio 48; Udinese 44 it is clear that our Champions League ambitions are alive and well even if the squad are, perhaps rightly, trying to underplay our chances. It would seem that the title is a long gone dream but to use a cliché, football is a funny old game and you never know what can happen; if Milan do collapse it’s unlikely to be left to us to pick up the pieces but if we can stay in the pack anything can happen.
With Cagliari beating all the teams around and below them (Bari 2-1; Sampdoria 1-0; Chievo 4-1) and only losing to the top 6 teams (Juventus 1-3; Inter 0-1; Rioma 0-3) we have to remind them why we’re up there with a professional win. They’re still missing Matri and we have an opportunity to play them when they may still be figuring out a new system. They are certainly no spent force attack wise despite the loss, they still have nose for a goal Bobby Freshwater (Acquafresca), Nenê has a decent eye for goal (hat-trick against Catania in December and 2nd highest goalscorer for Cagliari last season with eight) and a rounded technical game and Cossu was one injury away from going to the World Cup in the summer (although with 2010 Lippi, that doesn’t count for much), he’s their trequartista and a fine one too. Mix that with the spirit and defensive qualities of Biondini, Astori, Canini and the all-round game of Lazzari in midfield and you have an outfit that merit their top 10 standing this season. If you’re wondering why you see white handkerchiefs flying at the game, there is a fan protest due to the very poor refereeing they’ve been subject to recently (notably Inter’s goal at the weekend) so let’s hope the refs don’t make us pay for their misfortune.
We will unfortunately definitely be missing Fernando Muslera for our next two games (Cagliari and Palermo) with an ankle problem which will mean Berni stepping up. I can’t decide if I rate this guy really although he wasn’t great during the Coppa Italia derby. Nevertheless he will be between the sticks so let’s hope he can step up. Nando is pencilled in to be back in the time for the derby (13/03) so fingers crossed. In other injury news, it doesn’t look like Mauri will be back for the trip to Sardegna and as he still not training with the first team I don’t know how likely a return for the Palermo game will be. However we perform I believe we miss him and on a personal level he needs to play to cement a role in the Nazionale, one he deserves. Diakité and Rocchi are still not training with the first team, but Mobido is expected back next week. Dias hasn’t been training this week but he is still expected to be fit in time for the weekend but if not Reja has been experimenting with Radu in the middle and Garrido on the left. Yes, Garrido on the left, does that mean he’s fit, who knows?
In case you wondered what Javier looks like.
As far as the rest of the team is concerned, I’m pleased to see that the Matuzalém – Ledesma partnership will remain, Hernanes in front of them and Gonzalez working the right flank. Here’s where it gets interesting however, we finally have a selection headache with our forward options. Reja seems to prefer Sculli to Zárate for the moment which certainly is a nice choice to make and they both certainly bring different things to the table. Up front the dilemma is the protégé Kozák vs. the newly fit experienced playmaker forward Floccari. If Reja sticks with what’s working (and scoring) and plays Libor then I think Sculli will complement him nicely; if he goes with Sergio however I do believe Zárate to be a better foil for his clever runs and touches.
A quick update on the Primavera. You may have seen a disastrous result for our kids losing the derby 7-1. You unfortunately did read that correctly; after going in at half-time 3-0 down, Tommaso Ceccarelli injected some hope with a goal but then the team capitulated horribly and conceded another 4 with nothing positive to take home from the game apart from our goal, which does lead us to the Torneo Viareggio. We have started this tournament very positively, opening with a 4-3 win against Grasshoppers of Switzerland and a notable hat-trick for our talentino Tommaso who seems to be confirming his stature at junior level. This good result was followed up by a better one against the youth team of Anderlecht who, as anyone who follows Belgian football will know, have a very good youth academy. They were soundly beaten 3-0 by our kids, with another goal for Ceccarelli, one for Nigerian midfielder Onazi and one for the striker Di Mario. The last match will see Lazio facing Torino where a draw will guarantee qualification as group winners.
In very brief transfer news, reports in Germany suggest that Lotito is sniffing around Hamburg’s Ruud van Nistelrooy, trying to bag him in a Julio Cruz style free next summer. No idea how much truth is in that one but I do like the idea. In a slightly more probable hypothesis, it is suggested that if we make it the golden land of the Champion’s League, we will buy Porto’s Uruguayan Jorge Fucile who will give us the quality in depth we would need at both fullback positions for such a campaign.
Finally, to those who wish to write on the blog; as you may have noticed (ahem) I do not post as regularly as I or you I’m sure would like. I need a hand. http://www.theoffside.com/bloggers is where to apply, please apply all who wish to contribute.
Cagliari Calcio vs. S.S. Lazio
Sunday 27 February
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