Lazio head to the Stadio San Nicola this weekend to face Bari after a 2 week international break. The Biancocelesti went into the international break top of Serie A and followers of la Aquile will be hoping that the delay will not have stopped the teams momentum.
The Romans surged to the summit of Serie A prior to the international break, putting in a series of stunning performances and gaining some fantastic results along the way. So far this season several of the Biancocelesti squad have risen to the fore and have been putting in top-level displays which have propelled there team to the high end of the table. Fernando Muslera, the goalkeeper has been in fine form, Cristian Ledesma has put himself in the sights of Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli with his displays so far this season. Stefano Mauri and Sergio Floccari will hope the madness of Marassi will not halt there progress in this Lazio side. We cannot discuss Lazio at the moment without mentioning the Brazilian Hernanes. The player signed from Sao Paulo in the summer has been the shining light of this Lazio team, his brilliant performances probably the key reason Eddy Reja’s team sit were they sit in Serie A right now. Club President Claudio Lotito even went as far as to say that he would not sell Hernanes, even if an offer of
€50 million came in. Quite the statement from Lotito, a vote of real confidence, as if he needed it, for Hernanes.
In this writers opinion, heading to the San Nicola to face I Galletti is exactly what Lazio need right now. Trips to the San Siro to face the likes of Inter and Milan, or to Turin to face a Juventus team would only pile pressure on the Biancocelesti. Heading south to face Bari will provide a reality check to both the players and the fans, remind them that nothing has been achieved as of yet. Going to Apulia and picking up a result is exactly what Reja and his men are going to have to do to make this season a real and proper success.
Despite mixed results so far this campaign, Giampiero Ventura has assembled a talented Bari team, I Biancorossi are a well drilled side and will provide Eddy Reja and his Lazio team with a stern test. Ventura has struggled to find the right formula so far this season, persistently chopping and changing his starting 11. That approach mirrors what Eddy Reja has been doing at Lazio, certainly not to the same effect, it must be said. But a difficult test it will be for the league leaders. Bari possess certain players of good quality, players that can cause Lazio problems if they are not shown enough respect. The Algerian Abdelkadar Ghezzal has looked dangerous in the wide positions and Paolo Vitor Barreto is also looking sharp in attack. These are the types of players that will ensure la Aquile will have to be on there toes in the San Nicola.
For the Capital club, Reja is once again likely to go with a lone front man in Apulia, a tactic that has given Lazio mixed results so far. Do the Biancocelesti not look more dangerous with 2 in attack? Say Floccari being partnered with perhaps Mauro Zarate or Tommaso Rocchi? Either way, It will be Hernanes who will again be asked to pick open the Bari lock on Sunday, the Brazilian being given a free role to wreak havoc for the visitors. Its anticipated that he will be joined in midfield by Stefano Mauri and Mark Bresciano, with Ledesma and Matuzalem being asked to guard the back four.
It will be difficult for Lazio, no doubt about it. But, this is a great opportunity for the Romans to continue the fine form and remain at the top of the table. They have the quality and possess enough players in form right now to go to the San Nicola and take all 3 points back to the Capital.
Transfer rumours are also beginning to circulate at the moment. With Lazio flying high in Serie A, some big name players are being linked with a move to the Olimpico. The Italian sports dailies were reporting that both Diego Forlan and Italian forward Giuseppe Rossi were interesting Claudio Lotito. It is rumoured that should Lazio remain at the enjoyable end of Serie A until January, then the President would be prepared to splash the cash in an effort to solidify a Champions League place, or maybe more. As we are currently in mid October, its difficult to judge the strength of these rumours, but undoubtedly, should the Biancocelesti still be top of Serie A as we approach the new year, then speculation really will hit fever pitch. For now, its too early to talk up such rumours, for now its time for the San Nicola and Bari on Sunday.