Following consecutive defeats at the hands of bitter rivals Roma and then Cesena, Lazio returned to winning ways last weekend, defeating Napoli on Sunday lunchtime. The performance was much improved from Edy Reja and his team, and despite being under pressure for periods of the match, the Aquile held firm and were well worth the three points.
The focus turned away from Serie A during the week’s international fixtures, but following Italy’s 1-1 draw in Romania, attention will now revert to the peninsula’s top teams and league action once again.
This weekend Lazio head to the Ennio Tardini to face Pasquale Marino’s revitalised Parma outfit. Following an indifferent start to the season, the Gialloblu have managed to stabilise themselves with back-to-back victories. Those results have certainly eased the pressure on Marino, the former Udinese Coach, who was tipped for the sack with Parma struggling in Serie A. However, results obviously change circumstances and Marino has certainly earned himself an extended period in the Gialloblu hot seat with those two straight triumphs.
So, we head into this fixture and find both teams high on confidence following good results. It will certainly be a competitive game, Parma having seemingly rid themselves of the sore underbelly that marred the start of this campaign. Reja has, while ensuring Lazio have a spark in attack, ensured they remain watertight at the other end, something that is vitally important should the former Napoli tactician see his team extending their stay at the enjoyable end of Serie A.
While Parma have been accused of lacking firepower on occasions this campaign, backed by their paltry eight league goals so far, they have looked more aggressive and more potent in recent outings.
They boast the creative intent in midfield with Antonio Candreva, the man who fired his team to victory against Bari last weekend. The former Juventus player will certainly ensure both Cristian Brocchi and Cristian Ledesma have a busy afternoon in the centre of the park. In addition, striker Valeri Bojinov, while inconsistent, does possess the ability to trouble Aquile’s central defensive pairing, most likely to be Giuseppe Biava and Andre Dias.
The Biancocelesti should go into this fixture boasting a clean bill of health, with Reja having plenty of options available to him. The Coach will perhaps take the international break into consideration when picking his starting eleven, and be careful to ensure he picks a team that is fully fresh. Should Lazio have European ambitions this season, as we now believe they do, arriving at places like the Ennio Tardini and collecting three points could be vital.
Apparent whisperings over Hernanes’s recent form have begun to creep out of the Stadio Olimpico, many wondering why the Brazilian’s early season form has petered out. It is certainly not that the former Sao Paolo man is playing badly, merely that he is not making the key contributions he did at the beginning of this campaign.
It is no coincidence that Lazio suffered defeat in the Rome derby when Hernanes did not play to his best ability, and no exaggeration to say that should the Club achieve their European objectives, then the brilliant Brazilian will be a huge influence.
The reason for an apparent dip in form? Tiredness looks like a big factor following a hectic start to the season, and perhaps a minor rest would suit the Brazilian who, we must remember, is still adapting to life in Serie A.
The January transfer window, while still six weeks away, is beginning to have an effect on all Serie A clubs, with rumours now plentiful about the potential comings and goings of players. Lazio are certainly no exception, and this week Portuguese central defender Fernando Meira has been linked with a move to the Olimpico.
Meira is an experienced defender who has over 50 caps for Portugal, and is currently playing under former Roma boss Luciano Spalletti in Russia for recently crowned league champions Zenit St Petersburg. He was not considered a regular for Zenit during their victorious campaign, and with Lazio perhaps in need of a defender, this transfer would certainly make sense. It is probably not the last we will be hearing of this rumour.
For this weekend, Lazio would do well to concentrate on proceedings at the Ennio Tardini. While the Aquile appear to have put recent troubles behind them, Parma are beginning to revitalise themselves too. Recent history is certainly in Lazio’s favour, and the Biancocelesti have not lost away to the Gialloblu since 2004, recording a 2-0 win on their last visit in February. The omens are good, and Reja and the Club’s faithful will be hoping the trend continues on Sunday.