Guberti 29, Pazzini 36
The game provided hardly any surprise as Samdoria ran out winner against a struggling Lazio side at Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Neither the score line nor the statistics do justice to the game in which Sampdoria were utmost comfortable for most part whereas Lazio appeared to be afraid to take the game to the home side.
Edy Reja opted for a three-pronged attack with Mauro Zarate on the left, Tommaso Rocchi on the right and winter acquisition Sergio Floccari in the middle. This seemed to work right away as Lazio had a dream start with Zarate’s assist and Floccari’s goal. But immediately after the goal, either the Lazio players went to sleep or the Sampdoria players woke up. The Blucerchiati took control of the midfield, with Andrea Poli and Stefano Guberti having a field day in particular. It was only a matter of time before Sampdoria scored and that came on the half-hour mark with a rocket-strike from Guberti. Normal service was resumed when Giampaolo Pazzini scored his thirteenth goal of the season. By the end of first half, Sampdoria had 60% of the possession.
The second half had the same rhythm to it as the first. Reja was not happy with match officiating and was repeatedly protesting until the referee had enough of it and sent him off. Antonio Cassano made a comeback amongst massive cheers from the Blucerciati faithful after being sidelined for almost two months due to an injury. The return of Cassano will not only boost Sampdoria’s European ambitions but also improve Pazzini’s chances of making it to Italy’s squad for World Cup, since the hitman has produced his best alongside the Fantantonio. Zarate’s volatile attitude remains a problem as he launched a tirade of protest against the referee and was sent off for an early shower. Surprisingly, Lazio produced their best football after being one man down. Towards the end of normal time, Floccari’s shot was parried by Fernando Muslera and Stefano Mauri failed to capitalize on the rebound.
Edy Reja hasn’t produced miracles in Rome yet as his record now reads as 1 win, 1 draw and 2 defeats. Before the game, he had commented that Lazio are not even thinking about relegation. A look at the table suggests that Reja should probably be worried since the Aquile are only three points above the drop zone. But Lazio are fortunate in the sense that Livorno, Atalanta and Siena have had pretty disastrous record and are favorites for relegation this season. One positive thing Reja has done right away after his appointment as Lazio coach is to reintegrate Cristian Ledesma back into the squad. Ledesma got his fourth straight league start this season under Reja. Although he hasn’t set the field on fire and was hardly involved in the play yesterday, he is probably the best option Lazio have in center midfield this season. Also, his comeback into the squad will help the team spirit since several of the Biancocelesti players were upset with the treatment he received under Davide Ballardini’s reign.