Club Focus – Lazio – Uncertainty over Zarate as Biancocelesti head for Florence

It has been a controversial few weeks for Lazio, the ill feeling between the president Claudio Lotito and the fans is seemingly growing. The tifosi have been getting increasingly frustrated at the clubs on pitch progress and have been venting their frustration at Lotito in particular. The president hit back at the supporters proclaiming la Biancocelesti have a squad capable of Champions League qualification and boasting of successes the club have had during his tenure. The perfect tonic should have been Lazio’s 3-1 victory over Bologna last weekend. It was a comfortable display from Eddy Reja’s men and did not deserve to be overshadowed by rumours Mauro Zarate has fallen out with the coach and wishes to leave the Stadio Olimpico.

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In truth, neither Eddy Reja nor Mauro Zarate has spoken out of any difficulties. It has been the Argentines agent and brother Sergio who has put a spanner in the works of coach Reja’s plans heading in to the tricky weekend encounter in Florence, against Fiorentina. The agent didn’t directly proclaim any unrest from his player, he more hinted that Zarate maybe having problems with his coach. Lazio’s star player was withdrawn at the halfway stage during the Bologna game and the fact la Biancocelesti were much improved after the break, will not have gone unnoticed by either Reja or Zarate. After the game Reja expressed concerns of over the players physical condition, which adds weight to the possibility of coach and player, not getting along.
President Lotito however quashed claims that the mercurial Argentinean was unhappy in Rome. Whilst admitting Zarate had been the subject of interest from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, Lotito claimed “there is no Zarate problem at Lazio”. He went on to say that the player had a contract with the capital club and should focus on playing. With no possibility of a transfer until at least January for now Zarate will be staying in the capital. Hopefully he can now get his head down and concentrate on performing well for Lazio. Without doubt he is one of if not the key player at the club. His goals and assists should have a massive impact on the Biancocelesti’s season, if he can perform consistently well then Lotito’s Champions League claims may not seem so far-fetched.
Going into this weekend, Lazio face a tricky trip to the Artemio Franchi to face Sinisa Mihajlovic’s Fiorentina. La Viola have had a difficult start to the season, opening up with a draw against Napoli, they followed that up by disastrously, crashing 1-0 to newly promoted Lecce. The pressure is already on the Serbian Coach and he and his team will be desperately hoping for an improved performance and result when they welcome the light blue half of Rome to Florence this weekend.
Lazio are again likely to be without injured striker Sergio Floccari for the game against Fiorentina. Tommaso Rocchi performed extremely well in his absence both supplying and scoring a goal in the victory over Bologna, so he will almost certainly retain his place in the starting 11. Troubled Argentine Zarate, despite being withdrawn at half-time during the game against la Rossoblu, will in all probability partner Rochhi in attack. Despite Zarate’s difficulties, he works well alongside club captain Rochhi. Fiorentina were poor in defence against the Apulian’s last weekend and the likes of Per Kroldrup will not be relishing going up against Zarate, whilst Rocchi’s confidence will be brimming after his superb display against Bologna. If the two forwards combine like we know they can, they should be able to cause la Viola all sorts of problems and will give Lazio a realistic chance of coming away with all three points.
Defender Javier Garrido will perhaps have to sit out this weekends fixture along with Floccari. The game probably coming to soon for him.
This game presents a tough challenge for the capital club. Going to Florence is never easy, but with Fiorentina struggling at the moment and coach Mihajlovic under pressure, this could be an opportunity for la Biancocelisti to go and get themselves 3 points from the Artemio Franchi. It’ll take a disciplined performance from Reja and his men. Despite there troubles, la Viola still possess players of obvious quality, the likes of Alberto Gilardino and Riccardo Montolivo will certainly give Reja a lot to think about ahead of Saturdays game. But, Lazio have a good chance going into this game, how about after all the speculation and rumours surrounding him, Mauro Zarate goes and puts himself in the headlines for all the right reasons.
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