It was a fitting game to kick off the Serie A season as reigning champions, Milan, hosted Lazio who were the early pace setters last season. Both teams had some exciting new talent to show off for the first time with the likes of Miroslav Klose, Dijbril Cisse and Alberto Aquilani making their Serie A bows for their new clubs.
Lazio’s record at the San Siro against the Rossoneri makes for grim reading. Without a win since September 1989, 13 defeats and eight draws have followed. This dim record looked as if it was coming to a surprise end after the first 21 minutes played of Friday night’s encounter. In what stunned the home side, the Biancocelesti gained a two goal advantage only to let it slip before half time. Nevertheless, on this early evidence there is enough to suggest that Lazio may yet again be top four contenders..
Prior to the season, all the talk focused on Lazio’s eternal enemies, Roma, who brought in a new owner, a new coach and many new faces. Along with the Giallorossi, Juventus had been afforded much attention too with the hype their new stadium sparked and the many signings the club have made in their attempt to regain former glories.
Meanwhile, Lazio went quietly about their business as they made some shrewd investments, namely in their signings of attacking pair, Cisse and Klose. Mauro Zarate’s restless state was the biggest talking point in the blue half of the capital and one of their biggest problems too. His defection to Inter put an end to the troubles between the player and the club.
On Friday night Cisse and Klose made impressive starts to their Serie A careers as they both grabbed a goal each. While these two have stolen the limelight, the likes of Stefano Mauri and Hernanes remain highly important players in Edy Reja’s set up as both will be entrusted to provide the creativity in the attacking third. Mauri did this exceptionally well against Milan as it was he who set up both Lazio’s goals.
Edy Reja has stuck with his preferred 4-2-3-1 system which served his team so well last term. Such a formation allows for Hernanes to play in his natural role behind the front striker. The Brazilian impressed in this role last season and was a major factor for the club’s push for a top four spot as he scored 11 goals in his first year in Italy.
As mentioned, it was Mauri who provided his team’s two assists on Friday night as he highlighted why he is such an important player for the l’aquile. He may not have the athleticism to ghost past players, but, he does possess great technical ability coupled with excellent vision and a passing range to match.
A busy calender it is for Reja’s side as they are also participating in the Europa League. But, bolstered by other signings like Marius Stankevicius, Lorik Cana, Federico Marchetti and Abdoulay Konko to add to the two new strikers, Lazio will feel they have strength in depth to battle competitively on two fronts.
With Roma struggling to get going under their new regime, Lazio will take advantage by trying to keep their status as the number club in the capital. Rival clubs Udinese and Napoli may have a hard time of it this season too and for contrasting reasons. The former may suffer because of the loss of key personnel while the Neapolitans have a great distraction provided by their participation in the Champions League.
As they did over the summer, where they quietly made inroads to building a stronger outfit, the Biancocelesti could do the same on the field. Curiosity will ensure Roma and Juventus continue to steal the limelight but it could be Lazio that quietly rise up the table and perhaps snatch away Serie A’s final offering of a fourth Champions League place.