Lazio: Marchetti, Konko, Biava (62’ Diakite), Dias, Lulic (82’ Stankevicius), Matuzalem, Brocchi, Cisse, Hernanes (58’ Ledesma), Sculli, Klose.
Genoa: Frey, Mesto (23’ Granqvist), Dainelli, Kaladze, Antonelli, Seymour, Kucka, Constant (46’ Jorquera), Veloso, Palacio, Caracciolo (70’ Pratto).
Sunday again, and after the disappointing result against Vaslui Lazio needed to make up for the lost points in Europe with a win in front of a crowded Olimpico. The premier at home is always a special moment, and the players as well as the fans looked pumped up and ready to take on Genoa.
With an again altered starting formation Lazio looked lively early on in the game. Lulic, for the second time in a row starting at the left back, displayed a promising first half and after only five minutes the Bosnian international should have had an assist to his name. After adding to the attack in an impressive manner he found Klose, who in some way managed to miss the goal with an open header. Lazio continued to look vivid up front all through the half, but in defense things continue to be too chaotic. Before Genoa created any greater chance however, it was one of their old players who opened the scoring for Lazio. In the 11th minute Klose delivered a low cross , and a hard working Sculli beat his defender to slot home 1-0, and Lazio looked like having another fairly easy game against a side that they have only lost to once since 1993. Unfortunately for the home crowd the ineffectiveness up front, and the extremely weak displays in defense, make everyone having to always be prepared for Lazio to lose the lead.
As stated above, the ineffectiveness is already becoming an issue for Lazio to be counted with. This becomes even more of a problem as the team has gone from being one of the strongest defensive sides of the league to being a team where the defenders look completely out of place – and with defenders one has to include midfielders as well as attackers. As good as Lulic showed to be in attack, as weak he showed to be in defense. Same has to be said about Konko on the other side, and with Dias and Biava losing pace and concentration the defense looks like belonging to the lower leagues. When then the midfielders, Brocchi, Matuzalem and later on Ledesma, fail at putting any pressure on the opponents, everyone must have seen the downfall of Lazio in this game coming. In the first half did not result in any goal for Genoa, but in the second everything fell apart – just as in the games against Milan and Vaslui.
Before the half time whistle though, Lazio should have been up by two or three goals. Cisse missed, as did Sculli, Klose and Hernanes. This did not happen, and as Reja sent his men out for the second 45 it quickly became obvious the old man has no clue whatsoever in how to sort the mess in defense out. On the other hand, Malesani on the Genoa bench had spotted the weakness in the Lazio defense, and after only a few minutes Genoa punished Lazio. Palacio was found by Jorquera behind the central defenders in Lazio, and with Lulic and Konko out of position Palacio was left alone against Marchetti and had no problem in equalizing for the visitors after 54 minutes.
After this, Lazio lost all the offensive qualities they had shown early in the game. With only three games played this season it is hard to speak about trends, but it is obvious for anyone that Reja has no clue on what to do with this team. All the creativity went gone as soon as Lazio was punished once, and the lack of energy as well as quality makes me wonder what it was all people claiming we are better off this year compared to the last really means. As a natural effect of this, Genoa capitalized again. Kucka in the Genoa midfield made the Lazio defenders once again look like a bunch of youth players, this time in the 71st minute, and with Marchetti being left alone with an opponent for the second time Genoa made Reja look like having as little impact on the team and lack understanding of football, something that is becoming more and more obvious.
The rest of the half saw a desperate Lazio that did not create one qualified scoring chance, and a coach that acted in a disappointing manner regarding substitutions. A below par Hernanes was replaced by Ledesma, instructed to think defensively rather than stepping in and making sure Lazio would grab all three points in a game where all points should have been secured early on. A few minutes later Biava was injured and Diakite introduced, and with only a few minutes left of the game and Lazio down by one, in a position where everyone would expect the coach and the team to push for at least a draw, Lulic was subbed out and Stankevicius brought in. In essence, the three substitutions were all defensive in nature and this in a game where Lazio had been up but for the third consecutive game managed to lose the lead. When then Diakite headed the ball over in the 96th minutes, in a position where a goal should have been scored, it was obvious Lazio lacks the confidence needed to win games.
Reja has a lot to consider for the coming weeks. Lazio is off to a miserable start of the season, despite the positivity coming from the camp after the result in the opening round.Mauri, the main creative force in attack, is out for at least a month. The attack is not working, the midfield is anonymous and the defenders are showing an extreme lack of quality. The only position where Lazio can be seen as doing ok is in goal as none of the so far six goals can be blamed on the goalkeeper. A fact that is worrisome enough…