lunedì 27 maggio 2013

Roma - Lazio: how it happened

“It’s all or nothing,” said Roma Coach Aurelio Andreazzoli before the game and it was. It was also a classic Derby della Capitale: a tactical and not technical match with a lot of tough play,  passion and determination.

Vladimir Petkovic named his expected XI lining up Lazio in a 4-1-4-1 mode with Cristian Ledesma as deep-lying midfielder paired alongside Brazilian Hernanes and Ogenyi Onazi in a three-man central midfield, with Antonio Candreva and Senad Lulic on the flanks supporting the lone striker Miroslav Klose.

Aurelio Andreazzoli opted for the 4-2-3-1, selecting Mattia Destro rather than Pablo Osvaldo as centre-forward, and lining up Marquinhos and Federico Balzaretti as right and left-back respectively.

Lazio stated pressing high up the pitch, closing Roma’s passing lines and forcing Andreazzoli’s side to play long and high balls toward Destro in a effort that didn’t pay as Roma created not scoring chances through the fisrt half. While Ledesma and Totti was looking at each other, Onazi and Hernanes were watching De Rossi and Bradley.

On paper, Lazio’s problem was Francesco Totti operating between the lines, but Lazio remained compact when pressing, denying rivals’ through-balls and closing the spaces around Roma’s captain. Roma struggled against this pressing with both Michael Bradley and Daniele De Rossi  unable to produce positive forward passes when they had the ball.

Lazio attacked primarily through the right flank -- where Balzaretti was unable to cover Candreva -- also trying to provide high and direct balls from the back to Klose. With Totti that didn’t get enough spaces between the lines, Roma also didn’t exploit Erik Lamela as usual. A key part of his team offense this season, the Argentinian was out of the game, with Roma struggling to get the ball to him. Lamela found some spaces just when he went inside into central positions to pair Totti attacking down the middle but this solution wasn’t utilized enough.

The second half started in a different way. When Ledesma went off with a suspected groin strain, Petkovic inserted Stefano Mauri as attacking midfielder, moving Hernanes to a deeper role and switching to a kind of 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 with Onazi chasing Totti. Lazio’s  pressing dropped but both the teams lowered their level of energy. With the teams large, both Roma and Lazio were more dangerous creating chances on the fast-break. A the 77th minute, a fast-break play lead by Candreva ended with the Lulic’s winning tap-in, following a Bogdan Lobont’s mistake. With the goal to create more goalscoring opportunities in the way to equalize, Andreazzoli went to a more offensive approach, switching to a 3-4-3 with both left wing-back Dodo and forward Osvaldo caming off the bench. Now we had Brazilian duo of Dodo and Marquinho on the flanks with Totti, Osvaldo and Destro up front. Players and system changed but the team still underperformed relying on uneffective long balls that didn't create troubles to a compact Lazio's defence.

At the end, there was few key factors that influenced the result. Petkovic transformed his season from so-so to good with this win. On the other side, Roma came off from a poor season, once again. Andreazzoli's line up choices have to be questioned. Why he left Osvaldo, his best striker, out?  Why he wasted so much time before to insert him to replace an uneffective Destro? Why he started with Balzaretti, who was coming out from a bad season? Why he didn’t make the third change, inserting a true regista as Miralem Pjanic or a box-to-box midfielder as Alessandro Florenzi or Simone Perrotta? Those questions remain unsolved. On this night, Lazio snatched the cup extending their Capital domain while Roma's team bus and players was waiting at the club's Trigoria training complex by a group of 200 fans that pelted them with eggs and rocks.

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