Thursday Oct 22, 2020  
  03/11/2011: Europa League: Lazio - FC Zurich 1-0 (0-0)
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Lazio: Marchetti, Zauri (79’ Konko), Diakite, Dias, Radu, Lulic (46’ Brocchi), Cana, Ledesma, Sculli, Klose (46’ Cisse), Rocchi.

FC Zurich: Leoni, P Koch, Beda, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Mehmedi (67’ Chermiti), Aegerter, Zouaghi, Djuric (76’ Schonbachler), Chikaoui (62’ Magnin), Alphonse. 

To keep the hopes up for advancing to the knock out stages of the Europa League, Lazio needed the first three pointer of the group stage. In a far from well packed Stadio Olimpico Lazio did just that, with a narrow 1-0 win after a deflected shot by Cristian Brocchi found the back of the net.

The Italians had been far from impressive so far with only two draws altogether after three games. Coach Reja has been choosing to play many second choices in the international competition and the results have been missing accordingly. A fortnight ago the Swiss visitors had managed to keep the biancocelesti to a 1-1 draw and a win at home was a must this evening.

In the first half however FC Zurich created the best scoring opportunity and Lazio again looked lacking energy and quality to get the desired result. A 4-4-2 formation was chosen and Zauri was re-introduced on the right, Cana got to start in the midfield, Lulic and Sculli took care of the wide positions and Rocchi accompanied Klose in the middle. The first 30 minutes saw a Lazio that created nothing, while Marchetti in goal again showed he is a first class goalkeeper. Alphonse and Djuric both tested the custodian, but as the half went on Lazio slowly grew into the game and FC Zurich never got back to the same dominance again in the game.

The home team did not create many dangerous chances though; only Klose got close to Leoni in the Zurich goal in the first 45 minutes. When the Greek referee called for half time Lazio and Zurich were still at par, while Vaslui had taken the lead in Romania against Sporting Lisbon. The pressure as well as the tension was building up, as many were foreseeing the same failure as the last time Lazio featured in the tournament.

The second half started with two substitutions by Edoardo Reja, a clear sign of the coach not being too happy about the developments of first half. In came Cisse and Brocchi, and the two players were to change this game for Lazio. Overall, Lazio played a better half in the second, and the chances that were missing in the first half was created in the second. The Frenchman have been lacking goals this season, with ten straight goalless games recorded, and the frustration was present tonight again. He has been setting up others though, with two assists on Sunday against Cagliari in the league, and tonight he got another assist to his name. After Lazio had taken over the game and started putting some pressure on the Swiss visitors, a goal came closer and closer. Cisse had been sending crosses, Ledesma had tested Leoni and Sculli had been running behind the back line to try to get a good shooting opportunity. When nothing worked, one of the Olimpico favourite’s stepped in and salvaged the three points.

Cristian Brocchi got a cross flicked back to him by Cisee just outside the FC Zurich penalty area after 61’, and the midfielder struck the ball. On its way to goal the ball was deflected and Leoni stood no chance of saving the shot. All of a sudden everything felt a lot more comfortable and Lazio could play with more calamity. Above all Cisse tried to double the lead for the home team, with firing shots frequently. Unfortunately neither of the shots found the back of the net, and neither did any of the other players manage to get another goal. Zurich never really threatened Marchetti towards the end either, and with the results at hand the game felt more comfortable than it really was. Lazio might have been impressive in the league with a current joint second position, but the games at home and against visitors who choose to let Lazio control the game are becoming more and more frustrating. The lack of ideas of how to attack and to take advantage of being superior in possession is showing to be the toughest task for the team to find a solution to at the moment. In three days Parma visit the capital and another game of similar character is to be expected. Hopefully the second win on the home turf will give the team some confidence to build on.

(Khashayar Kashefi)

Picture gallery :

Player Ratings:

Marchetti: 6.6
Zauri: 5.5
Dias: 6.2
Diakite: 6.3
Radu: 6.1
Sculli: 5.6
Ledesma: 5.7
Cana: 6.5
Lulic: 5.7
Klose: 5.8
Rocchi: 6

Brocchi: 6.8
Cissé: 6.1
Konko: 6

Reja: 6.7

Man of the match: Cristian Brocchi

Lazio struggled the first half but got new energy in second when the 35 year young man came on. Changed the display of the match and got himself the winning goal.

Flop of the match: Luciano Zauri

He got the chance again but didnt take it. Poor passes, bad throw-ins and overall shaky in the back, took a few nice offensive runs but gave away the ball.

Honorable mention: Djibril Cissé

Looked in good shape today when he played second half, good passes and fast runnings and a very nice assist to the goal, his third in 2 games. Sadly no goal but hopefully it will come soon.

Today's ratings are provided by: Eivind Ytreland, Mark van der Enden, Rickard Uppström, Nicklas Karlsson & "Ed"

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