Porta FlaminiaBy: Pepe | February 5th, 2011
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)
As was commented on, this was a nail biting and long match but as the negatives were clear for all to see, I’ll play devil’s advocate and line out some positives. The actual defence was committed, solid and unflappable. There were dozens of last ditch tackles and blocks and I think we all saw the reaction of our defenders after the final whistle to see that they were happy with their effort. Dias was blocking everything thrown at him and Muslera was back to his best – I’m still convinced that that man has to be under the cosh to be at his best; we’ll have to wait for him to mature and stay concentrated when we have the ball.
The service afforded to Libor Kozák was limited at best but he was a nightmare (literally in Legrottaglie’s case) for the opposition defenders and if we’re not passing the ball around them, at least we’re bullying them. It was evident though that we won’t be scoring many goals if he is alone up front and without Mauri to feed him those peaches he has. Hernanes may be the better player but Stefano knows this league better and still the more incisive passer of the ball, long or short. That’s enough with the positives.
Unfortunately we are clearly missing Matuzalém as he brings a refinement to our passing game in the middle of the pitch. We are also badly missing Garrido; don’t misunderstand me, I think Radu is doing a sterling job but we are lacking an attacking full back on our bench and Javier was meant to be that man. I saw him play a fair bit for Manchester City last season and I’m sure he can do a job. This would also allow Stefan to move to the middle, which is his natural position, allowing us to rotate Biava and Dias from time to time.
Where does all this leave us after the mercato? After Cavanda’s loan, and Garrido and Del Nero’s injury problems, it leaves us, in my opinion, one man short at full back (Diakité is not a full back) when we really should have a full complement of defenders considering their versatility.
With the promising performances of González and the addition of Sculli, I certainly am happy with our midfielders, barring Matuzalém’s perpetual injury concerns. Speaking of Matuzalém, he looks to be back in the first eleven for our game with Chievo tomorrow, let’s hope he plays well and doesn’t pick up any knocks. I think we can all agree that Mauri and Hernanes have done very well for us and we can’t complain with Brocchi or Bresciano’s contributions this season.
The problems with our strike force have been done to death, but now the window is shut there really isn’t much to say anymore. Therefore we have to place our full confidence in them and hope that Floccari and Zárate can pull themselves out of their respective ruts (which are both occurring for obscure reasons) and hope that Kozák continues to improve as quickly as he has been. I do think Rocchi will be able to contribute when he comes back in a few weeks time even if his heart may not be fully in it anymore.
A.C. ChievoVerona are solidly mid-table, have won their last two games, one of them a tough fixture against Napoli and they will be no pushovers. We certainly have the better squad on paper but they have a team full of grinta, togetherness and with Sergio Pellissier they have a genuine assassin up front. He’s not on fire this season but if you give him a chance he’ll take it. No bones about it though, this is a must win game as these Champions League places have become über-competitive. I think we have seen that Napoli has what it takes to take it to the wire, Milan will most likely win the league, Inter are menacingly resurgent, Palermo remain a threat and of course, Rioma are still there and with a game in hand to boot. We are likely to line out in a fresh 4-3-1-2 line out, with Zárate supporting Kozák up front and Hernanes playing a traditional trequartista role. Matuzalém will be stepping into Ledesma’s boots next to Brocchi and we’ll be playing our first choice defence.
Probable line-up (4-3-1-2): Muslera; Lichtsteiner, Biava, Dias, Radu; Brocchi, Matuzalem, Mauri; Hernanes; Kozak, Zárate
Probable bench: Berni, Stendardo, Scaloni, Ledesma, Bresciano, Gonzalez, Sculli
Unavailable: Garrido, Diakité, Floccari, Rocchi, Meghni
A clarification from my last post, I stated that our new kid Ojiakor Chukwuemeka was Ghanaian, he is in fact Nigerian. We have also signed two other Nigerian kids; Ogenyi Onazi and Shehu Sani Emmanuel, the latter of which has a decent youth international pedigree and so I’m sure we’re all excited to see if they’ll be able to break into the first team.
Sani & Onazi (apparently)
Lastly, for those who have mentioned that they would like to offer a hand to this blog, I am going to go and discover the process for integrating new bloggers and I will post it here soon and then all who wish to apply may do so.
S.S. Lazio vs. A.C. ChievoVerona
Sunday 6 February
Some Related Lazio Posts:
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