Lazio: Marchetti; Konko, Biava, Dias, Radu; Ledesma; Candreva, Gonzalez (Saha 89), Hernanes (Cana 72), Mauri (Lulic 18); Floccari
Napoli: De Sanctis; Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Gamberini; Mesto (El Kaddouri 55), Behrami (L Insigne 45), Inler, Hamsik, Zuniga (Calaiò 80); Pandev, Cavani
Napoli managed to draw a game where Lazio were the better side for the first half and had the team not changed approach in order to save the 1-0 lead the final outcome, 1-1, could have been much different.
It could have been one of those magic nights in Rome. The stadium was well visited and Petkovic had the players prepared for an encounter which sought revenge for a humiliating 3-0 loss away in Naples. The first half was all about Lazio and Napoli’s mega star, Cavani, looked troubled as he could not get to any greater scoring chances.
Lazio fielded the best possible eleven, meaning that all regular starters apart from Klose were present. Both Hernanes and Gonzalez had been injury doubts, but made it and with an in form Floccari replacing the German not much could be debated about the player selection for this game.
As stated above, the first half was Lazio’s. Hernanes started things off with a blazing shot within the first couple of minutes of the game and after only 11’ Lazio opened the scoring. Konko sent a well weighed cross to Floccari, who had all the time in the world to chest the ball down before volleying home 1-0 from close range. Ironically enough the maybe most important player for the Lazio attack, Mauri, injured his ankle when running to pick the ball out of the net. An injury that forced the captain to limp off only minutes after the goal.
Lazio continued to press Napoli in the build up phase and created good pressure on De Sanctis, with both Candreva and Floccari testing the shot stopper. Shortly after this Napoli lined up their best attempt of the half with a series of attempts from Pandev and Zuniga and eventually Cavani had only an open goal to head the ball home for an equaliser, but Lulic got in the way and saved Lazio from conceding.
With ten minutes left of the half the Laziali almost celebrated again. From some 20 metres Floccari fired a rocket, but unfortunately had to see the upright save De Sanctis from having to scream at his defenders one more time. Lazio were dominating and had it not been for Cannavaro’s good reading of the game and managing to stop the balls being sent into the penalty box from left and right Lazio would have doubled their lead before the interval.
Just as Reja used to be mocked about his defensive tactics and coward approach, also Petkovis needs to get his share. Just as so many games before this season Lazio pulled back when in the lead, a tactic that looked to give the full points once again, but in the end cost the Romans two points.
Biava could have gotten his name on the scoresheet had it not been for an offside call, and shortly after Lulic was close to make it 2-0, but Campagnaro got back to save a far too weak ball just before the goal line. The second half saw Napoli on the ball and dominating possession, a game the Partenopei are not too accustomed to as they prefer striking their opposition on the counter, and with about ten minutes left on the clock Napoli had four forwards on the pitch. Sadly enough for the home team, this did pay off.
It was not by any of the attackers though, that Napoli got the valuable draw against the third placed team and managed to manifest their position as second behind Juventus. Minutes before Lulic missed a one on one with the Napoli goalie with an awfully weak finish that in the aftermath has lead to plenty of mocking of the Bosnian who truly could have killed the game and as the game turned Marchetti first made an amazing save on an Inler strike, pushing it to corner after touching the crossbar. On the corner came 1-1, through a beautiful volley from Campagnaro, who was standing all on his own inside the penalty area and just as last week against Genoa poor defending and marking in the end cost Lazio valuable points.
After the game had been drawn Lazio woke up and started putting pressure on Napoli and despite the weak second half could have walked off with the victory. Saha made his debut late in the second half and with only minutes remaining of the game the two attackers were one too many for the Napoli defence, but Floccari again hit the woodwork – this time on a free header that should have hit goal and would then have resulted in a goal as De Sanctis looked totally out of touch, but the ball went out after hitting the crossbar and the game ended 1-1.