Posts Tagged ‘Lazio’

Lazio 0-1 Napoli: Lavezzi Doing His Thing Again, Azzurri Grab Leaders Spot (Serie A Matchday 8)

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

There are teams who, when unexpectedly leading their league after a few weeks of play, will eventually crumble under the hype and the rarified atmosphere. After all, oxygen tends to get scarce in the upper floors of Serie A, especially for those who haven’t been living there since the early 90′s.

Napoli isn’t one of those teams.

Nearly two months after the season start, the Edy Reja magic is still working. In fact, the biggest indication of greatness (well, one of the biggest) is achieving victory (and doing so consistently) even when you don’t deserve it. Such was the case in the match against Lazio today, where Azzurri and Biancocelesti competed in a very enjoyable an evenly-matched battle, but where the home team had to concede the win due an unfortunate own goal of their nº1 defender, Sebastiano Siviglia. At the heart of said play for the Napoletani? Who else but Ezequiel “El Pocho” Lavezzi.


Lazio 1-1 Lecce: Biancocelesti Panting Their Way to a Draw (Serie A Matchday 6)

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Well… this was certainly unexpected. Who would have thought, that almost five years since his last goal from open play, Simone Inzaghi would return to provide such a vital goal to the Biancocelesti? But more importantly who would have thought this Lazio team, who marvelled Serie A enthusiasts since the season started, could have had so much trouble against a modest team like Lecce?

Lecce which today were anything but modest, cynically prepared by their coach Mario Beretta.


Torino 1-3 Lazio: Can Anyone Stop Mauro Zarate? (Serie A Matchday 5)

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Without the shred of a doubt, the Serie A team which most benefited from their Summer 2008 make-over is Lazio. When the Biancocelesti win, they win big (their average is 2.6 goals/match at the moment). When they lose, they equally lose big. Delio Rossi does nothing by halves and today was no exception, as the three goals conceded by Torino demonstrated.

And speaking of goals, there’s someone at Lazio that has taken quite a knack at scoring them. Pre-season Serie A excitement (in goalscoring terms at least) revolved around the “usual suspects”: Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho, and Del Piero just to name a few. Well, with Zlatan keeping his counter low (2) and Ronnie & ADP yet to score in the domestic league, the topscoring charts are lead by one Mr. Mauro Zarate. With 6 goals in 5 matches (and plenty more to come), the ex-Velez striker (on-loan from Al-Sadd of Qatar) is the symbol of a rejuvenated Biancocelesti side, the surprise lone leaders of Serie A after matchday 5 (waiting for tonight’s AC Milan-Inter Milan derby).

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): Far from being impressed with the 4-point difference in the standings (or with Zarate & Carrizo’s pre-match declarations), Torino threw themselves forward with the clear intention of scoring goals today. Ignazio Abate in particular (back after his Beijing 2008 injury) was roaming free on the right wing, repeatedly pushing down the side and making Radu’s head spin in the process. On the receiving end of Abate’s crosses, Bianchi and Abbruscato provided a constant danger for the Lazio backline, but fortunately for the visiting team Juan Pablo Carrizo was keeping guard.

Then at the 30 minute mark, the match got flipped right on its head. Torino had until then, played better, yet the team taking the lead was Lazio: through on the left wing, Zarate’s run continued inside the box, where some good dribbling work attracted the attention of three Torino defenders. Eventually, the Argentine striker managed to poke the ball towards Goran Pandev, whose instep finish inside the left post left Matteo Sereni no chance. 1-0 Lazio.

A tough blow for Torino, but certainly not devastating. The Granata came back with guns blazing in order to immediately get the equalizer, and they almost did through Elvis Abbruscato just two minutes after the first goal, his chipped shot over Carrizo hitting the crossbar and going wide. Eugenio Corini was keeping busy as well, his trademark free-kicks providing assists for Saumel and Di Loreto’s headers (narrowly wide on both counts). Thus despite a good Torino display, Lazio finished the half in the lead.

In the second period however, the fire in the Granata hearts slowly seemed to lose vigor, all the while Lazio started to pick up momentum. Stefano Mauri had a golden chance to make it two in the 60th, hitting the post straight in front of Sereni, but it was eventually through Zarate (yet again) that Lazio doubled their lead. The Argentine striker obtained the ball 30 yards from goal, took a few steps, and slammed an outswinging blast straight into the top-right corner. Yes, goal-of-the-week stuff. Again!. 2-0 Lazio.

Two goals down, Gianni De Biasi decided to risk it all: Amoruso & Ventola entered the field for Corini & Abate, transforming Torino into a 4-striker formation. Was it enough?

Not really. The final 15 minutes were filled with excitement and highlights-reel moments, but essentially all in Lazio’s favor. First, goalkeeper Matteo Sereni got sent off for bringing down Brocchi inside the box, and since Torino had run out of substitutions goalkeeping duties were left in the hands (litterally) of Nicola Ventola. Little could he do to prevent Mauro Zarate from scoring goal nº6 in the Serie A, putting the Biancocelesti comfortably in the lead. 3-0 Lazio.

Minutes later, Torino were left with 9 men as Pratali earned a second yellow for a foul on Radu, at which point the referee also sent off manager De Biasi for excessive protests. And I guess the consolation goal scored by Nicola Amoruso (penalty kick for a foul of Lichsteiner on Dzemaili) changed very little in a very bad day for Torino, who in light of their next match vs. Udinese will have to do without two important players. Lazio meanwhile, can (at least for the moment) enjoy the view at the top of the Serie A. 3-1 the final score.


Torino F.C.
[Match Highlights]
S.S. Lazio
GOALSCORERS: : 30′ Pandev (L), 63’, 83’ pen. Zarate (L), 92’ pen. Amoruso (T).
TORINO (4-3-2-1): Sereni – Colombo (72’ P.Zanetti), Di Loreto, Pratali, Rubin – Dezmaili, Corini (59’ Amoruso), Saumel – Abate (69’ Ventola), Abbruscato – Bianchi. Coach: De Biasi.
LAZIO (4-3-3): Carrizo – Lichsteiner, Siviglia, Cribari (23’ Rozenhal), Radu – Brocchi, Ledesma, Mauri (77’ Manfredini) – Foggia, Pandev (69’ Meghni), Zarate. Coach: D.Rossi.


AC Milan 4-1 Lazio: Is “Biancocelesti” Italian for “Miracle Cure”? (Serie A Matchday 3)

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

You know it’s funny: it seems that whenever AC Milan are in trouble, all they need to lift their spirits is a little Lazio “rejuvenation cure”.

Just around the same time last year, the Rossoneri had just played an abysmal UEFA Champions League match against Celtic Glasgow (in which Dida infamously faked being mortally hit by an invading Celtic supporter, remember?) and occupied one of its lowest Serie A rankings in years. On matchday 7, they were travelling to Stadio Olimpico to play Lazio, at which point… a miracle took place. Contrary to every pre-game prediction, Milan won the match 5-1, virtually (temporarily) ending their results crisis and sending them on the way to a FIFA Club World Cup champions title.

I’m beginning to think that playing Lazio when you’re wearing red & black must have therapeutic powers

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): Four very loud trumpet calls sounded at the San Siro Sunday night, just to let the Serie A know AC Milan is very much alive and kicking. No doubt also to convince Carlo Ancelotti, who wanted a clear sign and some impressive football in order to declare the Rossoneri crisis well and truly broken.

A sign of the kind that brought Lazio literally to their knees, with a superlative 4-1 win in a goal-filled, showtime bonanza. Most importantly, the match demonstrated what Milan is truly capable of, albeit with a little help from Lazio (the Biancocelesti forgot to put up barricades for this one, but they kept their heads up and faced the Rossoneri with a brave face). A night for football epicurians let’s say, who were served up Seedorf‘s (lucky) opening shot and Zarate‘s equalizer for starters, then wined and dined by some wizard shots from Zambrotta, Pato and Kaká to bring the banquet to an end.

When you have still yet to score a point in the standings, playing conservative is not an option. Lost ground is regained by taking risks, and that’s just what Ancelotti put on the menu: diamond formation with Gattuso midfield between Ambrosini and Seedorf, Kaká up top behind Alexandre Pato and Marco Borriello (Ronaldinho and Sheva on the bench). Lazio lined up a similar formation, with Stefano Mauri covering the backs of the top-scoring Goran Pandev-Mauro Zarate duo.

Milan got off to a shaky start: on a hazardous Kaladze back-pass to Abbiati (just a few seconds into the game), Mauri almost managed to capitalize and put his team in the lead. This was to be the first in a long series of Kakhaber-blunders, but its was also crucial in making the Rossoneri get a clear idea on Lazio’s intentions: the Biancocelesti had come to San Siro to win.

Milan perked up and started pressing. 6 minutes in, Seedorf and Kaká combined (one of the recurring themes of tonight’s match) to set up Pato inside the box, but the young Brazilian’s backheel did not fool Carrizo. Two minutes later however, breakthrough time: from Pato to Seedorf on the edge of the box, the Dutchman litterally played a wall pass with… Ledesma’s back, to pick up the ball just inside the box apply an easy finish. 1-0 Milan.

It was an unfortunate goal for Lazio, but the Biancocelesti were not demoralized. Playing a razor-sharp, well-balanced game with no hesitation of moving forward, Delio Rossi’s man launched themselves into the Milan box. Mauri forced Abbiati down with a ground shot in minute 18, shortly followed by Zarate (well-served by Pandev). During this phase of play, it became evident that Lazio maneuvering variety was superior to Milan’s, and that Pandev can be a playmaker of the highest level at times. It was precisely through the Macedonian player’s assist that Zarate took control of the ball, burned Kaladze on the run, and put an accurate effort past Abbiati’s first post. 1-1.

Milan responded immediately. Pato (great dribble followed by a low shot on Carrizo) and Kaká (double dribble on Lichtsteiner and shot wide) tried their luck a few times, but it was through Gianluca Zambrotta’s scorcher (in minute 35) that Milan took their lead back. Similar to Maicon’s shot in the Torino vs. Inter game, the Rossoneri right-back unleashed a marvelous strike from 30 yards that ended its course straight into the top-left corner. 2-1 Milan.

The goal really got Milan’s motors going, driving them harder and faster to claim the game as their own. Pato was feeling inspired, Borriello a bit less (although his pass for Kaká’s header in minute 42 was worthy of note), while Lazio patiently waited in their own half, hoping to hit the Rossoneri on the counter (especially through Kaladze’s turf, whose lack of confidence put the entire backline on thin ice).

In the second period Lazio came back out strong, with Zarate showing he was no flash in the pan. While half of Milan’s defence (often forced to foul on the edge of the box) tried to stop the Argentine striker, the Rossoneri attacking line was lurking. In fact as soon as Milan stepped up the tempo again, it was goal nº3 for the Ancelotti’s boys: Jankulovski darted off on the left and served a perfect ball to Alexandre Pato, setting him up for an unstoppable short-range diving header. 3-1 Milan.

Milan was finally calling the shots, almost oozing in confidence as Kaká continued his vintage show of ball control & technique. The Brazilian playmaker first tried his luck from 15 yards (receiving a pass from Borriello) but was denied by the Lazio keeper. Carrizo could however do very little three minutes later, as Kaká did… well what Kaká does best, sending a great long-range inswinging curler straight into the top corner. Lots of top-corner goals this week-end, and 4-1 Milan.

It was the coup de grâce for Lazio, guilty perhaps of having underestimated their opponents’ crisis-recovery abilities. In the final minutes, even Ronaldinho (on for Pato) got some playing time, immediately setting Borriello up for a fifth goal (blocked by Carrizo) and sending the ball onto the crossbar. Lazio were spared further humiliation, as Ancelotti grabbed the first points of this Serie A season… Phew! Huh Carlo?


 AC Milan
[Match Highlights]
S.S. Lazio
GOALSCORERS: 8’ Seedorf (M), 26’ Zarate (L), 35’ Zambrotta (M), 59’ Pato (M), 60’ Kakà (M).
MILAN (4-3-2-1): Abbiati – Zambrotta, Kaladze, Maldini, Jankulovski – Ambrosini, Gattuso (79’ Emerson), Seedorf (64’ Flamini) – Kaká; Pato (71’ Ronaldinho), Borriello. (bench: Dida, Bonera, Favalli, Shevchenko). Coach: Ancelotti.
LAZIO (4-3-1-2): Carrizo – Lichtsteiner, Siviglia, Rozehnal, Kolarov – Brocchi (79’ De Silvestri), C.Ledesma, Matuzalem (68’ Meghni) – Mauri (63’ Foggia) – Pandev, Zarate. (bench: Muslera, Cribari, C.Manfredini, Makinwa). Coach: D.Rossi.


Lazio 0-2 Inter Milan: Cynical Nerazzurri Head to the Italian Cup Final (Coppa Italia Semi-Finals, Leg 2)

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Lazio vs. Inter (Serie A)

Coppa Italia Tim Cup 2007-08In Italian, there’s an expression that perfectly defines the nature of Inter’s Coppa Italia performance of Wednesday night: “massimo risultato con il minimo sforzo“, which translates to “maximum results with the minimum amount of effort”. Any additional comment would be superfluous.

Ok fine, I’ll tell you just a little bit more. To use the words of Gazzetta (who defined the team as “an expert vulture, awaiting its prey to punish it“), the Nerazzurri played the ‘waiting game’ on Wednesday night. It’s really a fun little game, and it goes something like this: “let your opponents run around the pitch, allow them to keep ball possession & create most of the scoring chances, then rely on them missing those chances and hit them on the counter-attack”. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? Delio Rossi wasn’t too amused though, especially since he drew the card “Your 44 year-old goalkeeper has butterfingers, and gifts the opponent a goal. Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200“…

Such a shame too, because the Coppa Italia was originally supposed to Lazio’s “tournament of redemption” (you know, after a kinda crappy season and all). There was little doubt manager Delio Rossi was going for victory tonight, especially because of the highly offensive 4-3-3 starting line-up, featuring the Pandev-Bianchi-Rocchi trio up front. On Inter’s end, Roberto Mancini had to deal with post-Derby della Madonnina repercussions (losing to AC Milan is never an happy event) but decided to rotate his team nonetheless, fielding Francesco Toldo in goal and relying on the youth and energy of Primavera Francesco Bolzoni. The Nerazzurri’s 4-4-1-1 formation included Luis Jimenez operating behind lone striker David Suazo.

During the first half, and serving as a representative of pretty much their entire season, we saw two faces of Inter. In the first 20 minutes, the Nerazzurri appeared lazy, uninspired, and out of gas, which is a face we’ve been seeing more and more often in Serie A after the Winter break. Not even the two woodworks hit by Lazio in the initial minutes (the 2nd minute free-kick post by Cristian Ledesma and the 15th minute strike by Tommaso Rocchi) gave Inter the necessary “wake-up” signal to stick their heads out of the hole. The Biancocelesti were pressuring high up, exerting complete domination on central midfield, and there was little that the inexperienced Bolzoni and Pelé were doing to counteract the situation. The absence of a player like Esteban Cambiasso (on the bench) was all-too-evident…

Eventually, Mancini decided to reposition Javier Zanetti in the center, and things finally started to work out for the Nerazzurri. Their wing distribution became more efficient, Luis Jiménez could operate a little more freely in his offensive playmaker role, and began getting closer to Marco Ballotta’s net. His 39th minute sliding finish, one-on-one with the Lazio keeper (after a great heel set-up by Suazo), was narrowly wide of the post however.

In the second half Lazio continued their offensive efforts, and immediately brought danger close to Toldo’s goal. The Inter defense however kept close guard, and soon the Biancocelesti would be biting their nails for their missed chances. On virtually the first shot on goal of the second period, Inter grabbed the lead: like a speeding bullet, Suazo got through on the right wing and made a low cross for Pelé. The Portuguese U21 international waited for the ball to arrive, and then popped a one-time instepper that finished its course straight into Ballotta’s top-right corner! A great goal and 1-0 Inter.

The goal was a tough slap in the face for Lazio, who up until then had essentially dominated the encounter. On the contrary, galvanized by his team’s lead Mancini switched his formation back to two strikers, inserting Julio Cruz for Bolzoni and re-positioning Jiménez on the right wing. Grabbing back the reins of play wasn’t sufficient for the Inter manager however, who somehow managed to get sent off for dissent just a few minutes later. On the other end, Delio Rossi seemed to maintain faith in his current formation, only replacing Zauri with Aleksandar Kolarov.

As time passed by, Lazio became more and more active in the Inter box (especially through Pandev, Dabo, and Kolarov) but were always a few feet away from hitting the target, and the fact the Nerazzurri coach (Mancini’s second-in-command) had inserted Marco Materazzi and Maicon for Burdisso and Chivu certainly wasn’t helping in making the Inter defense more penetrable. It seems ironic then that during this period, much like what had happened to Mancini a few minutes earlier, the team that seemed to be “in control” of their situation got one player sent off and came dangerously close to finishing the game with 9 men (first a punch by Cruz on Kolarov was punished only with a yellow, then Materazzi received a direct red for an overly mean tackle from behind).

Even more ironic was that despite playing with 10 men, Inter increased their lead to 2-0, putting their qualification on ice. A right-wing cross by Pelé was “intercepted” by Ballotta, but the Lazio keeper ended up colliding with a defender, released the ball, and Julio Cruz simply had to apply the finish into the empty net. 2-0 Inter and game over. This will be the Nerazzurri’s 4th consecutive Coppa Italia final, and considering how close their 16th Scudetto title is, this will also be Mancini’s opportunity to make a double this year. Perhaps over Roma and perhaps as the last trophy as Inter manager, who knows?


[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
GOALSCORERS: 52’ Pelé (I), 85’ Cruz (I)
LAZIO (4-3-3): Ballotta – De Silvestri (87’ Tare), Siviglia, Cribari, Zauri (66’ Kolarov) – Dabo (80’ Mutarelli), Ledesma, Behrami – Pandev, Bianchi, Rocchi (bench: Muslera, Rozehnal, Mauri, Mudingayi). Coach: D.Rossi
INTER (4-4-1-1): Toldo – Burdisso (68’ Materazzi), Rivas, Chivu (77’ Maicon), Maxwell – J.Zanetti, Pelé, Bolzoni (59’ Cruz), Cesar – Jiménez – Suazo (bench: Julio Cesar, Siligardi, Cambiasso, Crespo). Coach: R.Mancini