Dear readers, my apologies for missing the last week. Been too busy and there was little to comment after 2 disappointing defeats in a row. LazioFanBlog.com resumes with the match report from yesterday`s awsome win against a team that did not lose (and scored) in all away matches: Napoli. Below is an extensive match report live from Stadio Olimpico. Written by Seann. Enjoy.
After a disappointing derby and a lackluster mid-week performance against Cesena, Lazio returned to form with a dominant win over Napoli yesterday. Reja reverted back to the regular starting eleven, with the only change being Zarate in the middle and Floccari on the outside, in a reversal of where they had been playing previously. Napoli also fielded their usual starting lineup, featuring the impressive tridente of Hamsik-Lavezzi-Cavani up front.
The stadium was about half full for the match (estimates were at 35,000), which is an improvement over the last time Napoli came to Rome. In that contest, tickets sales were severely restricted, to prevent Napoli supporters from sitting amongst Lazio supporters. The initiative was a failure, with Napoli fans still finding their way into the stadium, and the number of Lazio supporters greatly reduced. Tickets were sold under the normal procedure this time, and the results were much better. The settore ospiti was approximately 70% filled with Napoli fans, and there were no incidents in or around the stadium.
The match also saw Olimpia’s return to flight, with the splendid Lazio symbol completing two laps of the pitch, with a brief stop in between. Considering the fact that she was not allowed to fly for the derby (in response to the sad threats made against her by Roma supporters), Lazio remain undefeated when Olimpia flies before the match, winning every game except the draw with AC Milan.
Lazio came out very strong, and took only a few minutes to adjust to the new positions of Zarate and Floccari. Lazio calmly possessed the ball, and Lichtsteiner made a couple of early penetrating runs down the right side. After just 14 minutes, Mauri played a long ball into Zarate, who finished brilliantly and sent the fans into an absolute frenzy. Mauro has become a hero of Curva Nord, and his early goal released a tremendous amount of frustration. Lazio hadn’t scored in either of their last two matches, Zarate was upset at being subbed out against Cesena, and the Argentinean hadn’t scored at Olimpico for long time. Plus, it’s Napoli!
Lazio continued to control play for the next ten minutes, when suddenly they began to look out of sorts in the back. Failure to clear several consecutive balls resulted in a Napoli assault on Muslera, culminating in Lavezzi’s shot off the crossbar.
A few minutes later, Brocchi went down with what appeared to be a back injury, and was replaced by Matuzalem. Things were looking difficult for Lazio, but they managed to make it to half time with the lead, thanks in part to Matuzalem’s immediate contribution.
The second half saw no substitutions from either side, but the momentum was back with Lazio from the beginning. Reja’s side took the match firmly in hand, and it was only a matter of time before the second goal arrived. The midfield combination of Ledesma, Hernanes, Mauri and Matuzalem was devastating, moving the ball around with amazing style and effectiveness.
The second goal was easily one of Lazio’s finest so far this year, if not one of the best seen in Serie A. Zarate had begun to posses the ball with impunity outside of Napoli’s penalty area, making brilliant runs from both the right and left side. On the occasion of the goal, Zarate found Hernanes for a protracted give and go. The Brazilian made a brilliant return pass to Zarate, despite being fouled in the process, at which point Zarat found himself about 12 yards away from the goal. Quickly being closed down by three defenders, Zarate did something nobody in the stadium was expecting: he played a delicate square ball across to the wide open Floccari near the penalty spot, who wasted no time in beating De Sanctis to his right. The pass was so surprising that the Napoli keeper didn’t even react to Floccari’s shot. The fans were in ecstasy.
Lazio continued to dominate play for most of the second half, playing brilliantly on both ends of the field. Zarate was in rare form, tying Napoli’s defense in knots, hitting the crossbar on one occasion and barely missing wide on another. Then, predictably, with ten minutes remaining Lazio began to concentrate on defending the lead, ceding more time and space to Napoli’s midfield. There were one or two worrying moments for Lazio supporters, but Lavezzi, and especially Cavani, simply looked too tired to even attempt a serious comeback. Lazio finished the match back at the top of the table, waiting for the result of the Milan derby to see if they would stay there.