Club Focus – Lazio – Trip to Turin for Aquile as going gets tough in Serie A

Following last Friday evening’s win against current Scudetto holders Inter, Lazio head to Turin to Luigi Del Neri’s rejuvenated Juventus outfit.
It’s a fixture featuring two teams probably looking at the same objectives for this Serie A season. Lazio, despite their fantastic league position, continue to tell us they are not realistically looking at winning the Scudetto. Juventus, the Old Lady of Italian football, in Del Neri’s first season are also unlikely to be chasing the title. Champions League qualification is the more likely objective for these two football clubs.

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As fantastic as last weekend’s victory against the Nerazzurri was, it was only three points and the hard work must continue for Edy Reja and his squad of players. Juventus, now often tagged as the fallen giants of Italian football, will present Aquile with new and different challenges.
The Bianconeri are up to third in Serie A following an improved and more consistent run of results. A victory on Sunday for Juve will see them go level on points with Lazio. That should certainly serve as motivation for the team and its followers. Reja however, could motivate his team by pointing out they have an opportunity to put some breathing space between themselves and Juventus.
It will be an exciting evening in Turin, the Biancocelesti did not recover well following a disappointing defeat against Roma a month or so back. How will they react following a hugely positive result against Inter? Reacting to both difficult and enjoyable results could determine how far Lazio go this season, they failed to react in a positive manner following defeat in the derby. Will they fare any better following victory against Rafael Benitez’s men?
Stefano Mauri has spoken out before this clash, believing his team can achieve victory in Turin, he said: “We want to show them that we can play on an equal level as we are a strong team, but we have to step onto the pitch with the right mentality.” The midfield man also acknowledged the quality Del Neri’s Juventus squad possesses, “Milos Krasic and Fabio Quagliarella are in excellent form, and then we must not forget about Alessandro Del Piero and Vincenzo Iaquinta,” he said.
So, whilst accepting Juventus will be difficult opponents for his team, he has also stated his belief a win in Turin is well within the capabilities of this Lazio team. Strong, positive words from Mauri, giving us an insight into the confidence within the current Aquile squad.
Lazio Club President Claudio Lotito played down his team’s Scudetto hopes following the win against Inter. Stefano Mauri, however, has hinted the Biancocelesti players may believe the league championship is a possibility. He claimed victory against the Nerazzurri has led the squad to believe they can win the big games, which should put them in title contention. Mauri did admit it would be difficult to sustain their current league position but his acknowledgment that the team are beginning to gain belief and confidence is a good sign, something Reja should take note of.
La Repubblica has reported Fiorentina are ready to make a January move for Lazio Club Captain Tommaso Rocchi. The newspaper, however, states it is a transfer the forward would not be too keen on making. Rocchi has often found himself on the substitutes bench this season as he competes with Mauro Zarate and Sergio Floccari for a starting place in attack. The word is, however, that Rocchi wishes to keep on competing for his place. Certainly good news for Lazio as the Italian provides Reja with a different attacking proposition and ensures competition for places remains fierce amongst the squad.
The Coppa Italia last 16 draw has thrown bitter rivals Lazio and Roma together. So far this season both Edy Reja and his Giallorossi counterpart Claudio Ranieri have used the competition to field reserve players and blood the younger players within their respective squads. Will they take such a stance in a derby match? Well, that remains to be seen.
For now, attention turns to Turin and the clash with Juventus. Reja and his team should not be intimidated going into this fixture, they should look at it as an opportunity to bloody the nose of another one of Serie A’s more glamorous clubs.
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