Lazio’s quest for CL objective
Lazio recorded their sixth win of the season after beating Milan 3-2 at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday to pile more misery on Massimiliano Allegri’s Rossoneri, now languishing at the wrong end of the standings.
Milan, with only seven points under their belt, are under pressure and have already lost five of their first eight fixtures.
This team is surely missing the stars that defected the club in the summer transfer window.
On Saturday, Lazio dominated for long stretches against Milan, particularly in the first half.
Vladimir Petkovic’s side opened a double lead before the break, thanks to goals from Anderson Hernanes and Antonio Candreva, before German vete-ran Miroslav Klose, the joint- leading scorer with Napoli’s Edinson Cavani, made it 3-0.
Eventually, Milan did manage to pull two goals back in the last 30 minutes of the game, but it was too little too late for them to avoid a second consecutive defeat, following the bitter setback to Inter in the derby earlier this month.
Lazio have done pretty well in this opening phase of the championship.
Bar the back-to-back defeats to Genoa (0-1) and Napoli (0-3), Lazio were more consistent in other matches, collecting wins against Atalanta (1-0), Palermo (3-0), Chievo (3-1), Siena (2-1), Pescara (3-0) and Milan (3-2).
Indeed, those who thought that Lazio’s season was derailed after the unfavourable outcomes against Genoa and Napoli were made to eat their words.
Since then, the two-times Italy champions bounced back in style and recorded three straight victories in the Serie A and also overcame Maribor in Group J of the UEFA Europa League.
Coach Vladimir Petkovic, 49, represents the biggest change at Lazio with respect to last season.
Although the Bosnian is a novice to the Serie A, he is indeed vindicating Lazio boss Claudio Lotito’s decision to trust him with the team’s reins which previously were at the hands of Edy Reja.
Under Petkovic’s shrewd guid-ance, Lazio are playing enter-taining football, imposing their style of play and attaining positive results even on days when missing a key player and not firing on all cylinders.
Following match-day eight of the Serie A season, Lazio are third in the standings, a position they share with Inter on 18 points.
Juventus, on 22 points, are the sole leaders after beating second-placed Napoli in Saturday’s other match in Turin.
In my opinion, Lazio do possess enough quality within their ranks to compete with Juventus, Napoli and Inter even though the side could do with a few additions in January to keep their challenge going till the very end.
Qualification to the Champions League has eluded Lazio these last two seasons as they were pipped to the post by Udinese on both occasions.
This time, things could be different though even if Lazio’s participation in the Europa League may prove to be a drain on their restricted resources.
However, Petkovic has already made it clear that an extended run in Europe should in no way hinder Lazio from making a valid quest for a top-three finish.
Serie A statistics...
1st win for Atalanta after three straight defeats as they handed Siena their third loss on the trot last weekend. Fiorentina, alongside Catania, Udinese, Parma, Chievo and Palermo, remained winless on the road as they came from behind to share the spoils with Chievo at the Bentegodi Stadium. Udinese bounced back from a three-match winless run by beating newcomers Pescara 1-0 at the Friuli Stadium.
2 penalties were awarded by referees last weekend. Amauri broke the deadlock for Parma from the spot on their way to a 2-1 win over Sampdoria. The latter’s goal also came from a penalty, their fourth of the season, scored by Eder. Of the 33 penalties taken so far, 22 were scored.
4th win in as many home fixtures for champions Juventus who scored twice in the last 10 minutes to hand nearest pursuers Napoli their first defeat of the season. The southerners have last conquered Turin in October 2009 (3-2). Torino remained undefeated on the road courtesy of a goalless draw with back-to-form Palermo at the Renzo Barbera Stadium. The Sicilians are undefeated in their last three outings (one win and two draws).
5th defeat – the second in a row – for Milan, who were beaten by Lazio in the capital for the second season running. This was Lazio’s third successive win. Milan have last left the Olympic Stadium with a win in November 2009 (2-1). Inter pursued with their comeback thanks to a comfortable 2-0 home win over Catania. Victory was Inter’s fourth on the trot in Serie A.
25 goals were scored on the eighth day of the Serie A season: 16 coming from the hosts and the other nine from the visitors, who managed only one win. Amauri (Parma) and Pablo Osvaldo (Roma) each scored a double. Total number of goals scored so far is 197. Edinson Cavani (Napoli) and Miroslav Klose (Lazio) currently lead the scorers’ list with six goals each.