Lazio headed to Cesena hoping to begin putting the derby day defeat to Roma behind them. But, things only got worse for the capital club as they were beaten by the strugglers following a Marco Parolo super strike.
Going into the clash at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi, Edy Reja claimed that losing to the Giallorossi would not affect Lazio’s confidence, watching the Biancocelesti in action against Cesena, it appears Reja’s words were indeed hollow.
Lazio simply did not get going in this match, a Pasquale Foggia attempt which hit the woodwork was as close as they came to breaking the deadlock. In truth, it was a poor match, neither team appeared to have the spark required to break the opponent down. Reja’s decision to leave both Hernanes and Stefano Mauri out contributed to Aquile’s lack of imagination. It was a puzzling decision by Reja, why, after losing to your eternal rivals, leave two of your most creative players out?
Cesena had the better of the few chances allowed, Fernando Muslera in the Biancocelesti goal making one or two smart saves to deny the Cavalucci Marini. Sergio Floccari was assisted by Mauro Zarate in attack, but in truth neither player was given any space by the Cesena defenders and made little impact on the proceedings.
Just as the match appeared to be petering out into the 0-0 draw it really deserved, Parolo produced the moment of magic perhaps required to break the deadlock. From 25 yards out, Parolo sent a screamer in the direction of Muslera’s goal, the shot ultimately having to much for the Uruguayan stopper. Perhaps it was cruel the goal came with only 5 minutes left to play, giving Lazio little or no chance to reply. However, it really was exactly what Aquile deserved, a dour, unambitious performance was the cause of this defeat. To be honest, Lazio should be going to Cesena, putting themselves in the ascendancy and picking up 3 points. It simply did not happen, Biancocelesti thoughts appeared to still be with the Rome derby.
Whilst it is normally unfair to pick out and criticise individual displays, Reja came out after the final whistle and was rather uncomplimentary about the Argentine’s display and attitude in general.
“Zarate is a player who always looks to run with the ball, often with an individual move that is not really a means to an end. This isn’t a good thing for the team.” They were Reja’s words when speaking after the game, the coach clearly not pleased with Zarate’s contribution. Throughout the encounter Reja showed his frustration at Zarate, often seen screaming in the Argentine’s direction. The striker certainly did not look happy when substituted and this may now restart the rumours surrounding Zarate’s future, disappointing really, it seemingly looked as if the talented forward was beginning to finally settle at Lazio.
Things now will begin to get tougher for Lazio, its 2 defeats in a row for the Biancocelesti. Defeat in Cesena coupled with Milan’s win against Palermo meant Lazio lost top spot in Serie A and dropped into 2nd place. Certainly not a disaster, but how far will Aquile plummet? Has the Roma defeat shattered confidence and belief in the Lazio camp?
It is vitally important that Reja urges his players to put the derby day defeat behind them, the Cesena loss too. Huge significance is naturally placed on the derby, it always will be. But, losing that particular fixture should not define a season. It is important that Lazio try to forget and push on, it would be an almighty shame to ruin all the hard work done before the derby.
Next up, it is back to the Olimpico were Napoli will be the visitors. The Southerners put in an impressive performance in beating Calgiari 0-1 on Wednesday evening. Victory in the Olimpico will propel Napoli above Lazio in Serie A. That should provide Aquile with a proper incentive to take something from the fixture. Admittedly Napoli have made as impressive a start to the season as Lazio and will provide the Biancocelesti with a tough test on Sunday.
It is a winnable fixture for Lazio, several players were rested in the Cesena match and despite that move backfiring, it should ensure a fresh Aquile on Sunday. Perhaps Reja will learn from the previous week, particularly with regards to playing his strongest team. At full strength Lazio can certainly rival the majority of Serie A teams, and Edy Reja would do well to remember that.