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  Match |Lazio vs Chievo (1-1)
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Lazio vs Chievo (1-1)
Match Date: 26-04-2015
City: Rome
Stadium Olimpico
Referee Tommasi
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Lazio's Champions League hopes were dealt a blow as Alberto Paloschi's 74th minute strike gave Chievo Verona a share of the spoils in a game where Lazio had more than enough opportunities to win.

Lazio were dealt a blow before the game had even began. Stefano Mauri was widely expected to be omitted from the Lazio starting eleven but his absence from the squad on the matchday teamsheet came as a surprise. The Lazio captain had been rested during the week as a precaution but a suspected groin issue appeared to have worsened. Also absent from the teamsheet was Luis Pedro Cavanda. The Belgian wing-back was not called up but neither was he included among the casualties either, almost certainly confirming reports in the media that he had been disciplined for missing training. Not the first time that has happened.

Lazio came into the game with a looming degree of uncertainty. Had Mauri been an injury doubt all week and would Stefano Pioli have done anything differently if he was ready and available? Was the decision to go 4-3-3 enforced by injuries or was it always in the pipeline? Well, Lazio didn't shape up as if they had been intending to play this way all week. Ogenyi Onazi started the first 10 minutes as if he had spent the week watching Biglia VTs, then he spent the remainder of the half imitating Marco Parolo. Cristian Ledesma was pulling strings in advanced areas early doors, but then started orchestrating the team from his own half. And Stefano Pioli could be seen issuing instructions to his players throughout the first half.

Lazio were largely reduced to opportunities off set-pieces which afforded Antonio Candreva the opportunity to shine, but the conviction you typically associate with the Italian international was not there. He had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring when a series of 1-2s with Ogenyi Onazi ended with the Nigerian picking out Senad Lulic with a beautiful cross which was chested into Candreva's path. Nine times out of ten, the Lazio winger would have the back of the net rustling, but he only applied enough pace to enable Albano Bizzarri to make the save. The ex-Lazio goalkeeper was on fine form throughout the first-half, turning in a performance reminiscent of the 0-0 in Verona.

With seconds to go until the half-time whistle, Chievo began to threaten. Rolando Maran's sides are known for keeping things tight and looking to score on the break but rather ironically, Lazio gave Chievo a dose of their own medicine. Miroslav Klose was unleashed down the left-wing and he accelerated away from his markers. Bizzarri rushed out to make yet another save, but not this time as the German coolly dinked the ball into the back of the net. 1-0 at half-time.

Chievo started the second half with more purpose. Even though the Flying Donkeys came into this game knowing Serie A survival was almost certainly guaranteed, they began the second half as if Klose's goal had been some sort of wake-up call. It caught Lazio a little off-guard but the home side continued to threaten. Antonio Candreva continued to have opportunities but he continued to spurn them. He was 1-on-1 with Albano Bizzarri early in the second half but a terrible first touch forced him to offload to Ogenyi Onazi, who had an open goal but had his effort turned wide by the Chievo defender. It was an opportunity that could make the Nigerian an easy scapegoat, but the finger could be pointed at Antonio Candreva who spent ninety minutes tickling Bizzarri's gloves or Felipe Anderson who was desperately poor. 80 million euro is the price tag according to the media? You could knock a zero off it after this performance. These players can be forgiven considering they have us flying high in second place, but the praise they received earlier in the season must now be balanced with a healthy amount of criticism. Felipe Anderson's form is a real concern.

Miroslav Klose came off on the hour mark and it coincided with a real slump in Lazio's performance level. Keita Balde Diao came on and you thought the game was perfect for him given his pace and the Chievo defenders complete lack of it, but he was reduced to a few speculative efforts. Lazio would have been happy to sit back and wait for the second goal, but it did not look like coming and the game was wearing on.

Lazio's loss to Juventus halted an eight-game winning streak in Serie A but no matter how well you play, any streak of that nature requires a slab of good luck. There were times when Lazio went long periods in the games failing to take their opportunities but fortunately, the opposition often failed to take theirs also. Unfortunately for Lazio, not today. A diagonal ball on the edge of the Lazio penalty area had Mauricio overstretching to make the clearance and he could only head it into the path of Alberto Paloschi who had evaded the attention of Stefan Radu. Paloschi took aim and fired high into the roof of Marchetti's net.

Perhaps you could question Marchetti's positioning, Radu's concentration span and Mauricio's decision-making but these are weaknesses in each of their respective games. Weaknesses that exist every time they take to the field and weaknesses that Chievo ruthlessly exposed in that one moment. it was unfortunate and Pioli's face told a story. A bit of anger, a lot of disappointment but complete disbelief.

Lazio did not cover themselves in glory trying to get back into the game, and Chievo had the best opportunity of the final 15-20 minutes when Basta had to make a crucial block as Diego Novaretti misjudged the flight of the football. It was the only glaring error the Argentine made all night and that makes the loss of two points all the more painful. Novaretti, Ledesma, Onazi - the stand-ins did a good job. It was not a terrible performance by Lazio by any means but Chievo did what so many others failed to do and took the one opportunity that came their way. We became accustomed to this at the start of the season, but not lately.

Lazio need to bounce back with a win. A month ago, Parma would have looked ideal on paper but at 17:00 CET on Sunday afternoon, even Parma looks like a potential banana skin. Forza Lazio!


Writer: Cathal Mullan
 
  Match Summary
 
Lazio VS Chievo
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Goals
Penalty Goals
Penalty Missed
Yellow Cards
Red Cards
Yellow-Red Card
Substitutions
Corners
Offside
Shots
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Injury
Assist
Own Goal
 
  Match Incidents
 
Time Match Incident
46'' Miroslav Klose
 
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