Friday Apr 27, 2018  
  11/07/2014: Auronzo di Cadore: Day 1
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At 9.15am this morning, Stefano Pioli got pre-season training officially underway. As you would expect on day one of pre-season, physical tests dominated as the 27-man Lazio squad began their morning with some timed laps around the pitch. This was followed up with some stretches and sprints before a bit of work in the gym and the ice baths. During this two-hour period of athletic work, Pioli held a ten minute conversation with trialist Edson Braafheid in which the manager presumably made his expectations of the Dutch defender known.

Following a tough morning session, the players were spared from any further work in the afternoon and returned to the field at 5pm following some brief work in the gym. It soon became clear that Ederson has his own separate agenda as he jogged around the pitch under the watchful eye of the Lazio team doctor.

Interestingly, the evening session involved working with the football. Under Reja, these sessions were often few and far between in the opening week but Pioli seems keen to get to know his team as footballers as well as athletes from day one. He spent much of the evening discussing his idea with the players and in particular, what he expects from his defenders in open play and from set-pieces. Pioli's assistant, Giacomo Murelli was entrusted to dish out advice to Lazio's attacking players.

Pioli proceeded to spend 10 minutes on ball possession exercises having explained some more of his ideas to his players. He then decided to put the theory into practice with a brief game on a pitch that had been reduced in size. The teams were as follows;

Bibs (4-2-3-1): Berisha, Radu, Novaretti, Ciani, Cavanda, Ledesma, Felipe Anderson, Antic, Pereirinha, Djordjevic, Keita.

Non-bibs (4-3-3): Marchetti, Konko, Cana, Filippini, Braafheid, Elez, Cataldi, Mauri, Alfaro, Rozzi, Oikonomidis

Not much can be read into Pioli's early ideas, however, it was interesting to see a back four being used in both his systems with Braafheid being tested at left-back while Pereirinha was used as a winger - a role familiar to those who have seen him in Portugal, but not at Lazio. Another interesting observation is the fact that Vinicius did not start the game and was substituted on for Oikonomidis later. That might suggest that the club do not see much space for Vinicius at Lazio at this moment in time.

The game lasted about 15 minutes and ended 0-0. Observers were impressed with Keita and Felipe Anderson in particular, although both Marchetti and Berisha showed good form with some decent stops.
Author: Cathal Mullan
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