Lazio will look to continue their impressive start to the season when they welcome Cagliari to the Stadio Olimpico at the weekend. The Biancocelesti will look to apply some pressure on Inter who host the inconsistent Sampdoria in Week 8 of Serie A. The Sardinian visitors come into this clash facing up to difficulties both on and off the pitch. A poor start to the campaign and the racist chanting that marred last weekend’s game with Inter has piled on the pressure and intensified the scrutiny on all involved with la Rossublu.
Cagliari Coach Pierpaolo Bisoli will admittedly be bringing a team lacking in confidence to the Olimpico, but that does not mean they cannot cause Lazio difficulties. Despite the defeat against Inter last weekend and the controversy involved with that fixture, it took a moment of magic from the in-form Samuel Eto’o to separate last season’s Scudetto winners and the relegation threatened islanders. It was a much improved performance from Bisoli’s men and despite their difficult fixture list continuing with their trip to the Olimpico, the display they put on against the Nerazzuri will have given the coach positives go bring to the game with Lazio.
Bisoli himself is feeling the pressure, the President of Cagliari apparently ready to end the Coach’s time in Sardinia should the Rossublu continue to struggle. The President is rumoured to be unhappy with Bisoli’s tactics and his choice of substitutions during games so far this season. It is in attack were the visitors have struggled so far this campaign, a measly seven goals being scored in seven Serie A games, a poor return and perhaps the key reason the islanders are struggling in Serie A. Alessandro Matri will have to be watched by the Lazio defenders, the forward grabbing four of their goals so far this season. He has also had previous success against the Biancocelesti, having scored twice at the Olimpico in previous Cagliari victories over the Romans.
Edy Reja is expected to shuffle his pack again at the weekend. This is a tactic favoured by the Coach in the early part of the season but one in which he has relented with in recent weeks. It is a possibility that Cristian Ledesma will be rested, with Cristian Brocchi coming into the midfield alongside Matuzalem. Both players provide a shield that enables Brazilian Hernanes the chance to roam more freely and cause problems for the opposition. Two holding midfielders proved popular with many teams and the World Cup and it is a tactic that Reja seems to both like and trust. The Argentine Mauro Zárate is another player expected to drop to the substitute’s bench this weekend – club captain Tommaso Rocchi getting what has now become a rare chance to impress in attack, most likely alongside Sergio Floccari.
It will be a gamble should Reja shuffle his Lazio pack. Resting players such as Ledesma may be a move that the tactician regrets should it backfire on him and the Sardinians take something from the capital. But he has got it right so many times so far this campaign that it would be foolish to doubt him. It is looking as if the Biancocelesti have a much stronger squad than in recent seasons and perhaps this is a luxury that Reja wants to make full use of. It certainly would be foolish to underestimate Cagliari – the Sardinians have come out on top in their last two Serie A visits to the Olimpico: a 1-0 victory last season, the goal coming from Alessandro Matri, who also scored in the Rossublu’s 4-1 romp in the capital the season before that. It is actually only one win in the previous six attempts for Lazio against this opposition at home. Those statistics should certainly give Reja food for thought going into this fixture.
Stefan Radu has again featured in gossip columns across Europe this week. Last week he was rumoured to be looking for a move to one of Italy’s big clubs, now his agent Victor Becali is proclaiming that moneybags Manchester City have made an offer for the Romanian: “for the moment Radu has two years left on his contract with Lazio, but Manchester City have made a concrete proposal.” Another player rumoured to be looking for a move away from the capital is goalkeeper Fernando Muslera – Spain or England being the most likely destination for the Uruguay stopper. This week however club President Claudio Lotito contradicted such claims declaring that “there are no problems with Muslera’s contract renewal.” The goalkeeper renewing his Biancocelesti deal would certainly be good news for the Romans, as he has been an integral part of the teams impressive start to the season.