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  22/05/2012: 2011/12 Season Review
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A season that promised so much ended up delivering very little as Lazio aimed to build on the previous season’s fifth place finish. Pre-season was very busy as the Biancoceleste needed to prepare for Europa League football this time around, and as normal many players left through the exit door and many new faces arrived.
The fans didn’t know what to expect having seen the likes of Mauro Zarate, Fernando Muslera and Stephan Litchsteiner leave in the summer, three players who were the key to Lazio’s qualification into Europe. However, hope was in the air as German International Miroslav Klose signed for the club along with Djibril Cisse and Federico Marchetti.

Having to reshape his squad due to player’s departures, Coach Edy Reja knew it was going to be a tough task to qualify for this season’s Champions League and the ever expectant fans were going to make his job even harder as the months went on.

Lazio’s season got off to a shaky start, despite picking up a point in Milan on their first outing, the Biancoceleste went on to pick up just a point in their first home match against Genoa. This result brought early pressure onto Reja’s shoulders as the fans surprisingly vented their frustration, even at this early stage.
It was home form that was causing quite an upset amongst Lazio tifosi and as the Derby della Capitale was looming, it was set to be a turbulent month behind closed doors as Reja began to feel the pressure of coaching in the Capital.

The tactician caused quite a shock in September when he handed in his resignation, the pressure seemed too much for Reja who had recently received death threats from the fans. Despite making his unhappiness known, club president Claudio Lotito rejected his resignation and urged the 66 year old to try and get through this tough period.

As the highly anticipated Derby della Capitale approached, the pressure was well and truly on the shoulders of every Lazio player as they aimed to beat their bitter city rivals for the first time in two and a half years. After a 2-1 win Edy Reja had his first taste of a Derby victory in five attempts.

As Reja and Lazio fans put their differences aside, the Biancoceleste then went on a fine run of form. Up until Christmas, Lazio had only been defeated by Juventus and saw themselves just three points from the summit of Serie A.

Lazio’s qualification to the knockout stages of the Europa League didn’t go as easily as expected, but they made it through thanks to the reliance on other teams results. As Edy Reja tried to find the balance between League and European form, the January Mercato was a welcome opportunity to bring in some added strength to carry on their good form of 2011.

Just before Christmas the team had started to suffer from injuries, and it was evident that the Biancoceleste needed reinforcements if they were to carry on occupying a top three stance. The Mercato saw Djibril Cisse move onto QPR, a player who was expected to do well in Serie A but disappointed, scoring just one league goal on the opening day against Milan.

Guiseppe Sculli waved goodbye to Rome and secured a move back to former club Genoa, and fringe players such as Simone Del Nero and Juan Pablo Carrizo moved away to Cesena and Catania respectively. Having only acquired young striker Emiliano Alfaro from Montevideo, the fans were starting to get curious as to who the club were going to bring in. As the month passed, the only other signing Lazio made was the controversial acquisition of Antonio Candreva.

This lack of activity in the transfer window made Lotito’s already poor relationship with supporters grow even worse, and coach Edy Reja was also starting to vent his anger at the lack of players arriving. As the injury list got bigger and bigger, Lazio’s season turned into a tale of inconsistency as form started to falter.
The first match back after Christmas was an away trip to Siena, a chance to pick up where the team left off before the winter break. However, Siena took Lazio by surprise and demolished Reja’s team with a 4-0 win. Despite picking up another six points in January, it was clear to see that the team were lacking energy and it was only a matter of time before the wheels eventually came off.

Despite a series of unconvincing performances, Lazio made history on February 1st when they beat Milan for the first time in 14 years. Despite this, Inconsistency continued in February with a defeat in Genoa and a humiliating 5-0 defeat at the hands of Palermo, it seemed enough was enough for Edy Reja and the tactician then handed his resignation in for the second time in one season.

It was rumoured that the second leg of the Europa League knock-out stage against Atletico Madrid would be his last in charge. The Biancoceleste had to turn around a 3-1 home deposit and faced an uphill task in Madrid. Reja’s men were knocked out of the tournament 4-1 on aggregate, by the club who eventually went on to win the trophy.

In the days after the defeat to Atletico, Lotito and Reja emerged from a meeting having decided to carry on together after Lotito apparently rejected Reja’s resignation. Reja said that “I had a few moments of suffering, but the President showed affection for me. Recently this rapport had been damaged, but we cleared the air and therefore my adventure here continues”.

Now Reja and Lazio’s sole aim was Champions League qualification, they tried to find form again in the League after a month of inconsistency. As the second edition of the Rome Derby was just around the corner, fans were nervously awaiting this fixture as Lazio had been on a run of poor performances and still had absentees missing from action.

After another 2-1 win in the Derby, Lazio had beaten their rival’s home and away for the first time in 14 years and the relationship between Reja and the fans could not be any better at this stage of the season as Lazio had looked to have turned the corner.

Yet since the Derby della Capitale, Lazio went on to pick up just 14 points out of a possible 36 until the end of the season but despite poor form of the other teams around Lazio, the Biancoceleste still found themselves within touch of a third place finish.

Eventually it all came down to the last week of action, despite being knocked off third spot by Udinese in recent weeks, Lazio got back to winning ways in week 37 against Atalanta, giving themselves hope of Champions League qualification, but it was out of their hands.

Having pulled off a great win against Inter in the final round of the season, it wasn’t enough for Lazio as Udinese beat Catania to qualify for their second year running. This meant that the Aquile would be competing in the Europa League for the second successive season.

Although it is dissapointing that Lazio narrowly missed out again, it may prove to be a blessing in disguise. It has been evident that if you are to mount a challenge in more than one competition, you have to have strength in depth, something which has been missing for Lazio this season and has cost them considering the injuries they have had to deal with.

As Edy Reja’s journey with Lazio has now come to an end, it is surely going to be an exciting summer for the fans. New faces are expected and players will also leave. The fans just hope the players are of good quality and can mount a serious challenge for silverware. With a new coach in charge and a host of new players, we will have to wait and see what the new Lazio will bring to Serie A next season, the fans just hope that Claudio Lotito has learnt from his past mistakes and gives the fans what they want.

Player of the season

My personal player of the season is a tie between Federico Marchetti and Miroslav Klose. The latter found his feet almost instantly in the Capital when many thought he would merely be a bench-warmer. Scoring 13 goals despite suffering with injury for numerous parts of the season has been a great return from the German International who signed on a free transfer.

Federico Marchetti has been labeled ‘Superman’ for his antics in between the posts this season. Considering Lazio’s defence has been hit hard due to Injuries and suspension’s the 29 year old has been sometimes extraordinary for the Biancoceleste this term and has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in Serie A throughout the season.

(Ben Lally)
 
 
  Comments
 
 
Galuh Trianingsih Lazuardi 6/12/2012 2:25:11 PM
I would also include Cristian Ledesma along with Klose and Marchetti. He was sometimes inconsistence, true, but he played 37 Serie A matches this season. His hard works should be appreciated too.
 
 
 
 
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