Monday May 01, 2017  
     
 
  23/11/2015: Report: Lazio 1-1 Palermo
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Davide Ballardini's return to Palermo and the Stadio Olimpico was almost the stuff of dreams as Lazio needed a late Antonio Candreva penalty goal to salvage a point against a team known for its inability to pick up points on the road. That one kick may have eased Stefano Pioli's woes, but it won't have pulled wool over the Lazio fans' eyes.

Lazio's defenders have come in for much criticism in recent weeks and the ease with which the Sicilians breached our backline will by no means spare them this time out, but the overall organisation of the team has to be the focus of the discussion.

Having relied on experience in the Derby della Capitale, Pioli opted for youth here bringing in Wesley Hoedt, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Keita Balde Diao for Mauricio, Stefan Radu and Antonio Candreva. It was a big call - to go so much in one direction for the Derby and then so far in the other direction a fortnight later leaves you wide open for criticism if it doesn't come off - and it didn't. For what it's worth, Mauricio and Radu actually seemed to be coming into some kind of recent weeks, and were surely among the better performers in the Derby.

And the problem with making so many changes in such a short space of time is that it's the perfect recipe for chaos, and the real issue for Pioli right now is that there is no injury crisis forcing him into significant changes week after week. Same as above, if it doesn't work, there can be no excuses.

The first half was typical of a team with an inexperienced attack and a defence lacking in cohesion. Palermo took the lead off a corner which had been cleared out of danger, only for Lazio to make the situation dangerous. The Lazio defenders rushed forward to play the offside trap, but Sergej Mlinkovic-Savic didn't know the script and played Edoardo Goldaniga on, and the young defender took his opportunity better than a Lazio forward.

There were plenty of half chances for Lazio in the rest of the half, but they were coming as a result of impatience and a lack of knowhow, and Palermo would've been satisfied with the half's work. All going to plan for the man who had no plan when he was our man... if you get my drift.
It got better for Lazio in the second half, but not by much. A foul on Senad Lulic gave Antonio Candreva a chance to even things up and he did exactly that, but Palermo's Hiljemark won the ball with his tackle, and although the tackle probably culminated in a foul, the tackle was initially made outside the box. That's another one for the rules on fouls outside the box that carry on into the area, but there will be less of a discussion about it I would think, as Palermo don't need to look for excuses for their performance.

Meanwhile, Lazio are running out of them. The club may sit 8th in the Serie A table and not completely out of any race, but they are closer to the relegation zone than the top of the table and with away games against Inter Milan, Juventus and Fiorentina to come in the near future, a win against an overperfoming Empoli side is much needed.

Stefano Pioli survives, for now. Forza Lazio!

Author: Cathal Mullan
 
 
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