Tuesday Apr 25, 2017  
     
 
  12/03/2015: Throwback Thursday #2: Saving Lazio from B (12 March 2010)
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Not a specific event as such, but on the 12 March 2010, everyone at Lazio – from the manager Edy Reja to the players and staff and the fans in the Curva Nord – were on a mission to save Lazio from Serie B.

Edy Reja had got his managerial career at Lazio off to a good start with a morale-boosting 2-0 win in Parma, but Palermo had beaten us with ease, Keirrison’s last-gasp equaliser for Fiorentina had robbed us of a vital win on home soil and Sampdoria managed to quickly overturn a deficit and see out the result to leave Lazio perilously close to the drop. The signs were there that Lazio had enough about them to remain in the division, but the team was struggling to put it together over 90 minutes.

The upcoming clash with Bari was viewed as a golden opportunity to give Lazio some breathing space and the subsequent momentum to get out of trouble. Fans were planning on attending in their droves (the eventual attendance was a magnificent 45,000) and Lazio were planning to send the suspended Mauro Zarate into the Curva Nord for the afternoon to improve the atmosphere and perhaps take some attention off Edy Reja, the players and most of all, the Lazio management.

As it turned out, Zarate’s presence was desperately needed. The game itself was a bitter disappointment with Sergio Almiron and Edgar Alvarez resigning Lazio to a 0-2 defeat, but the fans were given a bit of lift by Zarate and a sense of unity was beginning to emerge. Reja’s Lazio proceeded to pick up 11 points in their next five games and the fear of relegation dissipated.

Gazzetta dello Sport carried a headline after Bari that referred to the nightmare of Serie B, and in a sense, that is all it turned out to be. Lazio’s form was nightmarish but it was not a real reflection of the quality of the team. Lazio had enough quality to stay in the division, not least in attack with the nine million euro-rated Sergio Floccari and Rocchi and with players such as Matuzalem, Brocchi and Firmani in the centre of the park, there would be enough grinta’ to make the run-in stress free.

The irony is, Lazio are currently in a situation that could be described as the complete opposite. Five years ago today, we were days away from dropping into the bottom three. On Monday, a win against Torino might very well move Lazio into the top three and put us in a great position for Champions League qualification.

Five years ago today, there was a sense of dread. Today, we are experiencing new-found optimism. Five years ago, we were playing well below our potential. Today, we are arguably playing beyond our capabilities.

This day five years ago, Edy Reja would have been evaluating his options as preparations for Bari were beginning to culminate and the squad the Gorizian tactician had at his disposal on that day is a reminder of how far we have progressed in such a short space of time:

Muslera, Berni, Siviglia, Stendardo, Biava, Dias, Radu, Lichtsteiner, Brocchi, Hitzlsperger, Ledesma, Matuzalem, Firmani, Mauri, Kolarov, Cruz, Floccari, Rocchi.

The Lazio management have often been criticised for their lack of long-term planning, and the concept of a ‘five-year plan’ has often been bandied about. On this day in 2010, Lazio could not see beyond the next game and were desperately trying to avoid a situation where they had to plan. Relegation to Serie B would have forced Claudio Lotito and everyone at the club to plot a route back into Serie A.

Lazio have managed to navigate their way up the table in the five years without giving it too much thought. Now we are on the brink of achieving something highly-significant, we should remember what it felt like to support this team five years ago today, for the pain of losing only heightens the joy of winning.

Author: Cathal Mullan
 
 
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