Lazio ended their congested pre season friendly list with a superb victory over the La Liga side Deportivo la Coruna at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday. The score of 3-1 was richly deserved and the Serie A side produced arguably their best performance of these summer months. With all due respect to Mauro Zarate, who opened the scoring for the Biancocelesti, this match belonged to the Brazilian Hernanes, despite his late arrival on to the pitch.
Hernanes came on for the last forty minutes and on his debut, in front of a crowd that is desperate to adore him, he did not fail. The hotly anticipated new signing scored a goal from the penalty spot, which gave Lazio the lead, and set up the third goal for Stefan Floccari. What a debut it was for the young man from São Paulo. Indeed after just forty minutes in the sky blue shirt of the Serie A hopefuls, Hernanes had become something of a cult hero. However what the fans, including the fervent Curva Nord, will have to realize is they must stick by Hernanes through the hard times and not just the good. Of course one performance does not make a great player, Hernanes may well not yet be the finished article, and too much should not be expected of him too soon. However on the evidence of this game he certainly looks to be a top-class signing.
The match will certainly give a healthy boost to the squad ahead of their first competitive match of the season away to Sampdoria next Sunday if nothing else. Coach Edy Reja seemed animated from the touchline but he was vindicated by the stunning debut of Hernandes in midfield, and the 2010/11 season is gearing up to be an exciting one for Lazio.
In more good news for the Aquile, Cristian Ledesma, the Argentinian defensive midfielder, has finally put pen to paper on a new five-year deal committing his future to the club. It was noted last week that Juventus were favourites to sign the twenty-seven-year old but interest from the Old Lady now seems to have cooled and it is very unlikely any further bids will be made for him. Last season he had a very high profile falling out with club President Claudio Lotito, which was in fact started by his refusal to sign a new contract. He was barred from all first-team activities at the start of the season, and even attempted a legal action similar to that of Goran Pandev, who had his contract with Lazio cancelled, but apparently, after a meeting which was said to have lasted almost two hours, Lotito and the midfielder are prepared to continue to work together. However for much of last season he remained unpopular with the fans and as a result Ledesma has looked uncomfortable, he will have to repair this relationship too in order to achieve more success with SS Lazio.
As for other potential Lazio targets, Hugo Almeida should make a decision on his Werder Bremen career this week, after the Champions League qualifiers, although it is likely that the Portuguese will stay in Germany. There has been no further news on a possible transfer of Tottheham Hotspur’s Giovani dos Santos, however Harry Redknapp has indicated he may have a future with the North London outfit and he did appear in their first game of the English season, but there is new concrete news for Lazio fans.
This comes from the reported sighting of Lazio director of sport Igli Tare who was seen at Eastlands, the home of English Premier league side Manchester City. With City’s newly acquired wealth some quality players are now on the fringes, and the Romans are set to take advantage of their possible availability. The player? The highly gifted Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz. Early reports had suggested that Lazio had put in a €5m bid although over the course of 24 hours this has now changed to a possible loan deal. Santa Cruz looks unlikely to get a game apart from the odd domestic cup appearance for the Citizens and a big plus is that he can speak five languages including Italian.
The Biancocelesti are set to have a day off tomorrow, before training and then leaving for Sampdoria on Friday evening in preparation for their first Serie A match of the season on Sunday. Just five days remain before the start of what may well be the most exciting scudetto campaign in years, which will also be, hopefully for Lazio, one to cherish.