Lazio: Bizzarri, Konko, Biava, Dias, Cavanda, Onazi, Ledesma, Mauri, Hernanes, Candreva, Floccari.
Before heading into a two-legged tie against Mura 05 in the qualifications for Europa League Lazio welcomed Malmö of Sweden to a close to empty Stadio Olimpico. Petkovic fielded a 4-2-3-1 against a 4-4-2 for the visitors. After the loss to Getafe and a pre-season that has made some
The first half saw Lazio create attempts, but mostly fail to hit the target. Through balls behind the Malmö defense, Ledesma setting up Mauri after four minutes being the first example, Lazio created danger early on. Within 20 minutes Mauri, Hernanes and Candreva have had good chances but either Dahlin stood in the way or the shots were wide.
The defense was not tested to on many occasions and Bizzarri only got one chance to show he is ready for the upcoming season. Familiar faces in the centre with Biava and Dias, Konko to the right and Cavanda to the left could concentrate on positioning in attack and without playing too good Lazio looked slightly better than earlier matches.
It must be said though, on paper Lazio should beat Malmö quiet easily but without anyone to tap the ball in the goal scoring is suffering. Eventually it was through a foul on Mauri inside the box and a cool penalty by Hernanes from the spot kick Lazio saw a well needed goal in a friendly ahead if the start of the season.
The remaining ten minutes saw very little action and heading to the locker rooms Petkovic looked troubled. Through the game the Bosnian instructed his players and there is still plenty that have to be adjusted before the Biancocelesti can be called ready. Ledesma and Onazi could take charge of the midfield against weaker opposition, but the ideas and clear strategy of play is missing so far for Lazio. The coach has yet to give the team a character and the players look lost and fatigued on the pitch.
Second half saw the hosts continue their attempts at goal, but also more misses. The Malmö custodian showed good positioning and saves on numerous occasions as Lazio failed to double the lead.
On 52’ and 64’ Mauri went close and in between that Candreva was denied. When Zarate, who again started off the bench, was brought on for Floccari with 25 minutes left of the game, the few thousands in the stands started hoping for goals. However, 63% of the possession resulted in close to nothing and more than ten shots were fired without finding the back of the net against weak opposition.
Instead it was Malmö that equalized when a newly brought on Radu fumbled and Rexhepi beat Bizzarri with the ten last minutes approaching. The error drove up hopes of the visitors to get away with an honourable result and the pressure on Petkovic rose further. A weak pre-season was turning even worse.
In a last attempt of changing things around Kozak had been brought on and a little later Rozzi to make Lazio play a 4-3-3 towards the end of the game. Hernanes, again failing to show up for the team, repeatedly sent the ball wide to the left where Zarate tried to find a cross inside the box. To walk away with a win would probably not make the criticism any lighter in tomorrow’s papers, but it would still be a win. In the last of additional minutes Kozak then got the winner. Zarate’s corner was headed home and there was never any chance for the Swedes to find a last attack.
In a week Lazio will travel to Maribor to kick off the season. Many question marks remain and even further have been added today. Onazi in midfield must be seen as one of the few positives, the youngster is showing himself more and more, but it is utterly necessary to find a solution to the problem of scoring as tonight’s game should be one where Lazio gets on the score sheet also from open play. (Khashayar Kashefi)
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