True devotion or the death of competition?

Laziobadge

LAZIO 0

Interbadge

INTER 2Samuel 46′, Thiago Motta 70′

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Lazio’s defeat to Inter at home last night has sparked a debate over the competitiveness of the Italian league, especially in regards to the closing stages of the season. When teams are assured of safety or secured their place in Europe they tend to think of their summer holidays and lose all sense of competition and fair play.

Today Gian Paolo Montali, a representative of Roma spoke of the game being one of the darkest pages in the history of Italian football. “ I believe that not only Lazio have lost but the world of sport and in particular our football. Last night at the Olimpico we saw one of the darkest pages in the history of calcio” . Over dramatic, maybe, but Lazio’s friendly like approach to the game has not helped the recently patchy reputation of Serie A.

The build up to the game was overshadowed by talks of the Biancocelesti underperforming in order to gift the title to the reigning champions and preventing their fierce rivals, Roma from winning the scudetto for the first time in almost a decade. Many on the Italian peninsula believed this to be true and awaited the Sunday night clash with added anticipation to see if Edy Reja’s men would help gift wrap the title to the Nerazzurri.

The situation was not helped by Atalanta’s draw with Bologna earlier on in the day, which all but secured to the Laziali their Serie A status for another season and so the players were given an added incentive not to perform to the best of their ability.

With all these ingredients, the conspiracy theorist ran riot after the way in which the game unfolded. The surreal environment in the Olimpico as the home fans spurred on the opposition with the thought of the greater good. When Walter Samuel, ex Romanista opened the scoring the stands erupted with jubilation. An event both unprecedented and unbelievable in the world of football. From that moment on, the Lazio players lost all hope and went through the motions for the remainder of the game.

Giovanni Lopez, assistant to Reja confirmed, “ We were motivated but the surreal atmosphere in the stadium with our own fans against us had an effect. Then once the goal went in we didn’t do anything” .

The victors obviously saw things differently and Massimo Moratti was in an unforgiving mood as he pointed the blame in the direction of the feuding Roman counterparts. “ I must say it is a problem between Roma and Lazio and has nothing to do with Inter” . However he was willing to admit that the support of the Biancocelesti fans in the Olimpico was strange.

The title race is not over with two round of games still to play and that leaves time for Italian football to regain some respect and allow the teams to play out the remaining games with some intention. The focus will be on the opponents of the title chasing duo, Chievo, Cagliari and Siena. All three teams are already aware of their fate and have nothing really to play for but pride and so they will be under pressure to perform in order to help patch up the Italian game’s image.

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