The only uncertainty about the Lazio formation was whether Matuzalem or Brocchi would get the start. Or so we thought. In the end we saw both of them in the starting eleven, with Ledesma being the odd man out (probably due to his national team duties this week).
Lazio started the match well, showing some periods of dominance early in the first half. They were creating chances fairly easily, especially when left room for some quick counter attacks. A Lazio goal seemed imminent, and that game in hand, until… until we saw something that Lazio supporters are all too familiar with: a brilliant finish from Crespo.
His hair is starting to grey, and most commentators mindlessly drone on about how he has “lost a step,” but Crespo’s header from Angel’s cross was absolutely top notch. The Argentinean was never particularly amazing with the ball at his feet outside of the penalty box, he was always a pure finisher. And judging from the goal he scored, and the near miss on the only other decent cross played into him, Crespo could likely still be a major threat if playing for a top notch team.
Getting back to the match, the shocking goal from Parma seemed to unbalance Lazio for a few minutes, but by the end of the half they had regained their composure and reasserted their control over the match. A near miss from Zarate was a sign that the goal was sure to come. And it came in the 2nd of 3 minutes of injury time, off a corner kick. Floccari deflected the incoming ball towards the net, where it immediately glanced off the head of a Parma defender and over the keeper. Perhaps a bit of luck, but the goal was clearly in the air.
No substitutions for Lazio, as they sought to regain the momentum with which they ended the first half. For 30 minutes Lazio were the only team on the field, with Parma’s threats limited to some long balls into the box, in the hope of a lucky bounce or rebound. Lazio were once again creating chances at will, with Zarate and Hernanes suffering near misses on occasions largely created for themselves. Their creativity and pace was wreaking havoc on the Parma defence… right up until they were both taken out of the game.
The first to go was Hernanes, subbed out at around the 30 minute mark, exactly as has happened in several matches this year. Having come straight from the Brazilian season into Lazio’s pre-season preparations, he is said to be quite tired. Fine. But what happened next left many Lazio fans scratching their heads: Zarate was subbed out for Rocchi, five minutes later. Yes, Zarate had missed several good scoring chances, but they were chances which he created for himself. He was the one making things happen.
With Zarate and Hernanes out, Lazio went completely flat. Mauri was having one of his worst matches of the year, and he simply wasn’t capable of carrying the playmaking load. Rocchi touched the ball one time in the last ten minutes, and the only other chance Lazio had was in the form of a Lichtsteiner lead counterattack gone wrong.
A 1-1 draw away to Parma is not the worst result in the world, but considering the way the match was played, Lazio certainly could have come away with more. The overriding feeling is of a wasted opportunity, a wasted chance to take another 3 points from an inferior team. Strangely enough, after having many of their victories labeled “lucky,” the media consensus was that a win this Sunday would have been well deserved.