It looked like European qualification was in the bag already up until Christmas time, yet a torrid run of results thanks to a congested fixture list has seen the Biancocelesti fall rapidly down the league standings.
Due to European commitments, it was rare to see Lazio kick off at the Stadio Olimpico at a normal time last Sunday, and the fans were more than pleased with what they saw from the team. Beating Bologna 6-0 was the sign of a rejuvenated Lazio, and it boosted the team for one final push before the season draws to a close.
Miroslav Klose was back to full fitness, and scored five times to make up for his long absence from the team. While the German international took the headlines, there were fantastic performances from a number of players, who’s batteries seemed to have been recharged in recent weeks.
For a number of weeks, Abdoulay Konko had been missing through injury. The French wing-back has proved that his inclusion in the team is more than significant, and his partnership with Antonio Candreva down the right side is a threat to any team when the pair are fully fit. The superb victory over Bologna gave Lazio a major boost ahead of visiting the San Siro to play Inter on Wednesday, not a venue that has provided the Biancocelesti with much success in recent years.
Lazio coach Vladmir Petkovic made just one change for the trip north, replacing Giuseppe Biava with Lorik Cana but keeping to the well experimented 4-4-2 formation. Despite not having won at the San Siro for 15 years, Lazio were still confident of the win considering Inter’s recent form and mounted injury list.
It seemed that Lazio were giving the home side a taste of their own medicine in the early stages. Inter have been criticised this season for their provincial role in matches, playing on the break and sitting back, and it took them by surprise when Lazio seemed to set up in the same way. Every time Lazio went forward on the break, they looked threatening and it didn’t seem as if Inter could cope with a confident Lazio attack.
Inter missed a penalty and made some costly errors during the match, but after a 3-1 away victory, it seemed that lady luck was on Lazio’s side for once. Thanks to another miraculous performance from Federico Marchetti, the match was iced with a fantastic strike from 20-year-old Eddy Onazi who is starting to raise eyebrows with his potential.
After the famous victory, Petkovic said, “We had chances even after going 3-1 up, but we weren’t clinical enough. I compliment my players for the result and for extending our positive streak. Now there are three teams fighting for the Europa League. If we win the last two, I am sure we can make it.”
Lazio face Sampdoria at home this Sunday, followed by an away trip to Cagliari in the final round. With recent results providing the Biancocelesti with that added confidence that had been lacking in recent months, there is now no reason why maximum points cannot be taken from these fixtures. It is just a shame that Lazio have lacked the depth required this term to compete higher up in the league, and recent results could just prove to be too little too late.
Injuries have hit Lazio hard this term, and with the fixtures coming thick and fast in the final month, Petkovic will be happy that his star men are back to winning form, ahead of the all important Coppa Italia Final against Roma on May 26.
A special mention this week must go to Christian Brocchi, who at the age 37 announced his retirement from the game. Lazio captain Stefano Mauri said, “His career has been an example to follow, we will miss the warrior. Good luck my friend.”