Thursday Jan 21, 2021  
  27/01/2014: Revolution Reja
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Il Messaggero’s reporter and Laziale Gabriele De Bari shares his thoughts and views of the new look Lazio under the guidance of the reappointed Edy Reja.

De Bari believes Reja has revitalized Lazio since the turn of 2014. The squad may be a bit older but it is still competitive. He has restored the players’ spirits, remodeled the club’s style of play, and appointed roles and tactics to every player. What looked like a frayed, vulnerable and convoluted squad up until Christmas and New Year is now a squad playing with belief, character and discipline. Reja has shored up Lazio’s defense and tightened up the midfield which has resulted in 3 wins and 2 draws so far.

Squad options
The Italian-Slovenian coach is well known for his vocal nature. He speaks a lot in the dressing room and on the sidelines. Reja seems to be fully involved in the Lazio project and has made every player feel important to the team, which is something the players were lacking under Vladimir Petkovic’s leadership. He has managed to recreate the Biancocelesti spirit and the desire to work as a unit in order to achieve good results.

Reja has relied on the old guard, especially in the defensive department, to turn the results around and bring some success back to the capital. He has restored Andre Dias, who was omitted from the Uefa Europa League squad and on his way back to Brazil under Petkovic, to regular first team football and the veteran central defender has repaid Reja’s faith by putting in some stellar performances – most recently against Juventus.

The same goes for Cristian Ledesma. The naturalised Italian was relegated to the substitutes bench at the start of the season but has returned this January as the leading midfielder and has again proven his worth to the team. Alvaro Gonzalez has also been used much more often and at times deployed in the right back position – where he was superb against Juventus on Sunday. With Petkovic in charge the hard working Uruguayan international was limited to a handful of substitute appearances.

Reja has also worked on some individuals, in particular the once key Antonio Candreva and Hernanes. The Roman had become too selfish and ineffective De Bari believes, while ‘Il Profeta’ became lazy and lost confidence as he was regularly asked to play different roles under Petkovic’s regime. The once controversial Candreva now works tirelessly, is re-energised, has assisted and even scored two penalties. As for the Brazilian, Reja has instructed him to play in a more advanced position which allows him to capitalise on his ball qualities and shooting range (as was evident with his stoppage time, long range winner against Udinese recently). His high technical level has again been witnessed and he increasingly looks more solid and moves well without the ball.

Apart from the mental work Reja and his staff have done with the squad since being reappointed, they have focused a lot on the physical and athletic side of football as well.

When Reja was confirmed as the new Lazio coach some weeks ago now, he stated that athletic work is his priority. The hard, physical work since the turn of the New Year has been evident in the games against Udinese where the side came back several times, away from home, and with a man less to win 3-2. The Juventus game was also a gruelling test. Although the league leaders were reduced to 10 men following Buffon’s dismissal, the Biancocelesti had to contend with one of the best midfield’s in European football and an overall physically strong side Conte has created.

Potential reinforcements
The pre-2014 Lazio has been corrected and revised by a very experienced and seasoned coach. His pragmatic approach has worked wonders for the Romans. The only error De Bari believes Lotito has made is that the President did not rehire Reja one and a half months earlier. He also feels the President now needs to avoid committing another error – which is ignoring the fact that the squad needs some reinforcements this current January mercato. The are still some structural problems in the team which can only be addressed by bring in at least 2 valued individuals, otherwise the leap this January will only be an illusion.

Reja has put things in place. He has restored the player’s self confidence and belief and can work more wonders but in order to continue this positive run of results and performances, Lotito must bring in the players Reja has publicly requested.

Author: Boris Pechev
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