Archive for the ‘Lazio’ Category

Miroslav Klose scored five times in a span of 40 minutes as Lazio throttled Bologna 6-0 at Stadio Olimpico. Klose is the first person to score five in a single Serie A match since the 1984-85 season.

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For Mauro Zarate, this was a different kind of international break. Nine Lazio players were called up to represent their countries in friendlies and World Cup qualifiers over the past fortnight, but the forward was not among them. Six years have passed since Zarate’s late strike against the Czech Republic won Argentina the Under-20 World Cup, yet he has still never played for the senior side.

As his team-mates prepared to join up with their respective national teams, however, Zarate too boarded a plane bound for the far side of the planet. Rather than boots and shinpads, he packed swimming trunks and flippers. To celebrate his 26th birthday, the player had decided to indulge in a mid-season mini-break to the Maldives.

Lazio had not granted him permission to do so. Indeed, Zarate had never asked. Instead he simply presented club officials with a sick note from his doctor which stated that he needed a few days off training to recover from a skin condition caused by “fatigue”. The cynics wondered what could possibly have brought on such a state. Zarate had been training apart from the first-team for months, and by most accounts not over-exerting himself.

Either way, Zarate was granted the time off and swiftly set out on his secret sojourn. He might have got away with it, too, if it weren’t for the fact that there happened to be a Lazio supporter on holiday at the very same resort. That fan put in a phone call to Rome’s Radio Sei, informing listeners that he had just seen the player snorkeling in the Indian Ocean.
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Federico Marchetti has upset Juventus fans in enough instances already this season. Over the course of three meetings with the Bianconeri, the Lazio goalkeeper pulled off a string of bewildering saves, earning his team a 0-0 draw in the league before helping them to a 3-2 aggregate victory in the Coppa Italia semi-final.

Now he has his sights set on an even loftier goal: displacing Gigi Buffon as Italy’s No1 goalkeeper. Or at least that’s what the papers claimed on Tuesday morning. It was a somewhat heavy-handed interpretation of a quote from the player himself, who had simply told them that: “Everyone knows how good Gigi is, but I hope to be there at the Confederations Cup in June.”

Marchetti would, of course, prefer to start in Brazil, yet the suspicion is that even a place on the bench would be an honour. It was, after all, only this week that the goalkeeper received his first call-up in two-and-a-half years. Not since Italy’s disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign had Marchetti played any part for the national team.

Thrust into a starting role back then by an injury to Buffon, Marchetti was hardly the chief culprit in Italy’s demise, though he has himself observed that, “Everybody could have done more”. Italy drew 1-1 with Paraguay and New Zealand before being eliminated by a 3-2 defeat to Slovakia. Marchetti made mistakes in that last game, beaten at the near post for the second goal, but the team as a whole had been dismal.

It was not those performances however which led Cesare Prandelli to overlook Marchetti in the years that followed. Instead what derailed the player’s international career—and indeed his club career, for a period—was nothing more than a careless comment to a newspaper.

Marchetti had been playing for Cagliari at the time of the World Cup, but shortly after Italy’s elimination he told a Gazzetta dello Sport journalist that he had sought a move to Sampdoria. “In the end I cost too much [for Samp to pay], so I stayed at Cagliari,” he said, before insisting he was content with that outcome. “I have such strong feelings for this club.”
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Game in a sentence

After a series of missed opportunities, Miroslav Klose’s superb goal in the 82nd minute leads Lazio past Inter Milan in a grueling contest at the Stadio Olimpico.

Observations

  • A top of the table clash in Serie A is always fun. One with the sub plots of this game are even better. Inter traveled to Rome without Wesley Sneijder, even though Andrea Stramaccioni was without the services of Stankovic, Mudingayi and Joel Obi. Lazio striker Miroslav Klose returned from injury — Salto-Klose would make his presence felt often.
  • In a rarity — at least in the Serie A matches I’ve seen thus far — both teams employed four at the back to begin. This made for an incredibly compact game with few offensive breaks early on. Inter’s attacking duo of Cassano and Milito were invisible in the first half. The visitors only had two attempts on goal in the first 45.
  • Lazio’s excellent organization coupled with an impressive attack led by Hernanes spelled domination for the Biancocelesti. The Brazilian midfielder linked up with Klose extremely well, threatening Inter’s stout back four on numerous occasions. With that said Lazio was extremely poor around the Inter goal.
  • A dour half was enlivened by a Lazio penalty claim in the 42nd minute. Klose was ‘brought down’ — explanation for air quotes forthcoming  — by Álvaro Pereira in the box. As the striker howled at the ref, replays indicated Klose may have had a legitimate claim though it looked like an accidental trip. The Inter conspiracy theorists added to their dossier.
  • This was a tactical battle, as it seems to be most times these teams play. Inter has drawn 51 times when facing Lazio — the most ties accrued against any Serie A club. I should note most times the phrase ‘tactical battle’ is used the game being referred to is almost unwatchable. This wasn’t the case, but something needed to happen soon.
  • The second half didn’t disappoint. Inter pushed three up front, creating a series of chances that drew a slew of fantastic saves from Federico Marchetti. Cassano, Milito and Fredy Guarín all threatened goal, the latter smacking the post in the 66th minute. Moments later Marchetti pushed a Cassano attempt off the post and proceeded to make an amazing reaction save on Yuto Nagatomo’s rebound attempt. Word class goal keeping.
  • Momentum was with the visitors, but Inter’s failure to capitalize on five minutes of domination would be their undoing.
  • The man of the match — for both positive and negative reasons– was Klose. Though they were making headway up front, Inter’s defence became disjointed in the latter stages of the match. Klose would get an excellent opportunity on goal only to flop to the ground, diving in egregious manner.
  • The football gods would look the other way, as Klose would score the game’s only goal in the 82nd minute. An excellent through ball from Stefano Mauri found Klose, sitting in the middle of a triangle of Inter defenders. The finish was superb, but I couldn’t get the image of his ridiculous theatrics out of my mind. You’re better than that, Miroslav.
  • Inter fails to narrow the four point gap between them and leaders Juventus. It was a fair result after they spent the first half doing nothing at all. Chalk another moral victory up for Vladimir Petkovic.

Three stars

1. Miroslav Klose

2. Hernanes

3. Javier Zanetti

The ugliness in Rome

As if last night’s attack wasn’t bad enough, with a hundred ultras, a suspected mix of Lazio and Roma supporters, storming a bar full of Spurs fans with bats and knives and leaving one fan “fighting for his life”, it gets worse.

After a very cordial welcome back from Lazio supporters to former player Paul Gascoigne, within the first ten minutes there were audible chants of “Juden Tottenham, Tottenham Juden”, along with the unfurling of a banner that read “Free Palestine.”

This news comes on the same day Lazio’s owner Claudio Lotito said, without a shred of evidence, “The Lazio fans have nothing to do with what happened at Camp de Fiori.”

Meaning, yet again, we await word to see what kind of action UEFA will take on this.

Yes, chances are the behaviour is the result of a fan “minority,” but ultras are of themselves a minority. That fact is hardly pertinent to the need for the club to take a strong stance against its extreme, violent element. Nor is citing the rote “English hypocrisy” a justification for outright antisemitism (no matter your view on the use of Jewish identity within Spurs supporters culture) and attempted murder.

 

Now Napoli are 2-0 down to Lazio, so out come the “I bet he’s regretting doing that now isn’t he, eh?” on Twitter and elsewhere.

Ladies and gentleman, the categorical imperative:

A categorical imperative would be one which represented an action as objectively necessary in itself, without reference to any other purpose. -Immanuel Kant

Good is good no matter what…

The Lead

Seriously? Another one of these? In twenty-fucking-twelve?

Three of Tottenham Hotspur’s black players were subjected to racist abuse from a section of the travelling Lazio support during the 0-0 Europa League draw between the clubs at White Hart Lane on Thursday night.

In front of the Uefa president, Michel Platini, Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and the substitute Andros Townsend were the targets of monkey chants when they ventured in front of the enclosure containing 1,500 Lazio fans.

The flashpoints followed the news that the Chelsea midfielder Mikel John Obi had deleted his Twitter account after he was racially abused by users on the site. The Nigerian removed his profile less than 24 hours after his mistake played a part in Juventus’s equaliser in the 2-2 Champions League draw at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have contacted the police.

Calls right now are for hosting Lazio’s next Europa League fixture behind closed doors, but that, quite frankly, is completely useless, a temporary blockade. Once the allegations are investigated, Lazio should be kicked out of European competition. FULL STOP. Have some of that. If your fans prove to be putrid skid marks, then it’s the entire club’s problem. Monkey chants at a game? Your club is out of Europe.

As for the people racially abusing Mikel John Obi, just ban them for life from every purchasing a Cheslea ticket again. Or how about any ticket to any league ground in England? For life?

Or better yet: here’s my solution. Move the Champions League knockout stage to North America. Host it over here. See how many monkey chants you hear in Fenway Park, or BMO Field, or RFK stadium. Yes, racism lives in American sport (hello, Boston Bruin ‘fans‘), and yes, our fans can also be giant, unbelievable pricks, but I’m willing to bet we can get through an entire season without hundreds of fans shouting racial epithets for all to hear.

Because if you can’t have a football game without a public display of racism, if you can’t even hold a memorial to the victims of Hillsborough without a week of opinion editorials warning rival fans not to ruin the entire thing by being utter douchebags, you don’t deserve football, Europe. Hand it over. You’ve had your turn…
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