Tuesday May 30, 2017  
     
 
  04/05/2013: Heaven or Hell?
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Lazio’s season up to now has been a rollercoaster ride. Sitting in second place at Christmas, Lazio had taken 42 points after beating Atalanta in mid-January. Since then, the Biancocelesti have only managed to pick up another ten points, giving the fans some cause for concern.

Many would suggest that it was the lengthy run in the Europa League that is to blame for the slump, but I beg to differ. We cannot suggest that recent form can be blamed on playing an extra twelve or so matches surely? A glorious first half of the season has been marred by the relegation form shown since the turn of the year.

When looking at Lazio’s squad, there are a number of stars that feature for the team every week. You could even suggest some of the starters are world class, considering the amount of players that play for their countries.

Beyond that usual eleven that you would expect to start on a weekly basis, you struggle to see enough quality to maintain results consistently when looking at the bench. What occurred just after Christmas was the same situation Lazio were in at the same stage last year under Edy Reja. Ravaged by injuries, Petkovic has struggled to adequately plug the gaps.

Miroslav Klose got injured just after Christmas, and his replacements were Sergio Floccari or Libor Kozak. The club tried to move these players on last summer, explaining to me that they aren’t good enough for the reaches Lazio are aiming for. Floccari is a good striker, and did his best to accommodate for the injured German, but Kozak has featured 22 times for Lazio in the league this term, and has yet to find the net.

Sundays draw with Parma was a frustrating match. The Ennio Tardini is always a tough stadium to enter as the away side, and I thought the team did relatively well, and were unlucky not to have taken three points back to Rome. Confidence has hit the team, and recent results meant that it was a nervy Lazio approaching this match.

Despite having a goal ruled out for offside, Lazio coach Vladmir Petkovic remained content, saying that “I thought the players were fairly level on the disallowed goal, so the offside rule is open to interpretation. We should’ve been more clinical, but today we honoured the jersey.”

Defensively, Lazio were solid on Sunday, this was due to having the usual back four back in place. Injuries and suspensions have meant that Abdoulay Konko, Giuseppe Biava, Andre Dias and Stefan Radu haven’t featured together as much during the last few months, but in my opinion, these are the best Lazio have, and are vital now to help the club finish the season strongly.

Discipline has been going through my mind all weekend, because Lazio don’t have any. More often than not this term, Lazio have had men sent off for some sort of silly, no need challenge that has cost Petkovic and the group many points this season. After Giuseppe Biava's dismissal on Sunday, the count of red cards now totals to seven, and Lazio cannot expect to gain many points with this sort of attitude.

My diagnosis is simple, new players need adding in the summer. If Lazio are to achieve a top three finish in the near future, there needs to be enough quality to turn to should key men get injured. Age is taking its toll at Formello, and the Primavera starlets don’t seem quite ready, so it will be a tough task for Igli Tare to recruit exactly what Lazio need this summer. Money needs spending, or we will have the same situation on our hands next season.

Despite recent results, Lazio are at least still in with a shout of Europa League qualification. The Biancocelesti face Bologna at home this weekend, and will see it as a big chance to get back to winning ways. It’s not all doom and gloom in Rome, the club still have a Coppa Italia Finale to look forward to, but considering the opponents, it could either be heaven, or hell.

Follow Ben on Twitter @Lazio_UK

Author: Ben Lally
 
 
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