Lazio have experienced bittersweet symphony in the last two seasons, as they missed out on Champions League qualifications by narrowest margins. In 2011-12 season, Lazio finished up at fourth with the same points and head-to-head record as Udinese, but lost out due to inferior goal difference. Same thing happened last season, only 2 points difference against the same team from Friuli.
Question raised: “Can Lazio achieve Champions League qualification this season?” That dream has been on the air til mid-January, as Lazio enjoyed 10 unbeaten games in Serie A, and sat in second place. Even some of the supporters anticipated the Scudetto, as the points difference with the Serie A leaders became narrower. Suddenly, all expectations were shrouded in doubt, as a result of two consecutive losses against Chievo and Genoa.
Without any significant reinforcement during the January transfer market, and aggravated by injury to some key players such as Miroslav Klose and Hernanes, dreams faded. On the other hand, Lazio's direct competitors, such as Napoli, Inter Milan, and AC Milan have reinforced their teams.
Fifteen Serie A games are “still on the table”. With Lazio's involvement in three competitions including Europa League, and Coppa Italia, the main concern is preventing additional injuries. This was the reason why they could not achieve Champions League spot last season.
The key of Lazio's success this season apparently will depend on the manager, Vladimir Petkovic. His creativity in implementing tactics, player selection, and motivating them will be desperately needed. Utilizing talented Primavera players such as Ogenyi Onazi and Keita should be on his mind too. Bringing Antonio Candreva, Senad Lulic, Libor Kozak into the same form as Sergio Floccari will be necessary.
Lazio's fixture against Napoli today will be crucial, and the result will help answer the above question. A victory will maintain the prospect of their dreams coming true, and players’ morale would be increased for future fixtures. Non Mollare Mai.