Tuesday Dec 12, 2017  
     
 
  24/08/2014: Report: Lazio - Bassano Virtus
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Bassano Virtus had impressed in the first two rounds of the Coppa Italia. Six goals on the road against Livorno and Vicenza made people sit up and raise a few eyebrows. Sadly for them, Lazio brought the Venetian side down to earth with an almighty bang, romping to a 7-0 win at the Stadio Olimpico in front of quite a few fans.

It was not as straight-forward as the scoreline suggests, however. Lazio dominated the first half, but it was 45 minutes of endless frustration and a half which ultimately remained goalless.

Keita was the first to make a statement of intent, as he smacked the ball from a long way out that went high into the Curva Sud. It was a frenetic opening few minutes, and Lorik Cana made his own statement of intent although not of the proper kind as he saw yellow for a rather needless foul.

Lazio continued to throw men forward but there was a distinct lack of shape within the team. One minute the defence was compact, the next there were huge gaps that could be exploited if Bassano Virtus were anywhere near Lazio's level. In attack, Lulic was here, there and everywhere but rarely in the position that is believed to be his own and the same could be said for Felipe Anderson who looked to be playing right-back at times.

That being said, Felipe Anderson was quite lively and initiated arguably the best chance of the half. The Brazilian playmaker linked up with his out-of-position friend Lulic on the right and following a minor tussle in the box, the ball broke to Basta who dinked an exquisite ball into the path of an unrushing Keita who once again found the Curva Sud. Barely 10 minutes into the game, and you could already sense some desperation in our play.

Keita and Felipe Anderson continued to threaten as Filip Djordjevic watched on. Mid-way through the first half, Keita had the ball in the net but was adjudged to have fouled the Bassano Virtus full-back and had his effort ruled out. Minutes later, Felipe Anderson had a wild attempt on goal quickly followed by another Keita shot.

Just after the half-hour mark, Keita spurned another golden opportunity. This time he played a lovely one-two with an unusually advanced Ledesma and placed his shot well wide of Rossi's left post.

Lazio's final real opportunity of the half came following a scramble in front of the goalmouth. A good corner from Ledesma caused all sorts of problems and Rossi eventually had to make a very smart save to prevent Bassano Virtus going into the half behind.

Pioli had suggested in his pre-match press conference that he would base his selection on training performance and Ledesma and Felipe Anderson were certainly surprise inclusions, but there was a clear sign that Pioli was regretting his decisions as Biglia and Candreva began warming up early in the first half.

Pioli proceeded to bring on Candreva for Felipe Anderson at half-time and the Italian international made an immediate impact. Bassano Virtus were caught sleeping as Keita pranced forward, offloaded the ball to Marco Parolo who then played a simple pass to an unmarked Candreva who showed the kind of patience and poise that was missing in the opening half with his finish.

Bassano Virtus now had to throw men forward and they did manage to fashion an opportunity as Lazio's defence were at sixes-and-sevens, but it was soon 2-0. This time Candreva turned supplier and Keita provided the finish.

It soon became three as Stefan De Vrij opened his Lazio account on his competitive debut with a neat finish following the clearance of a Candreva cross.

Now Lazio could relax and Pioli could begin to think about AC Milan. At the halfway mark of the second half, Lucas Biglia was introduced for Ledesma who was impressive offensively today but a little lackadaisical in his defensive duties.

Keita, a different player now in the second half with bags of confidence soon added a fourth, leaving Rossi with no chance and putting the game to bed.

It was now time for Pioli's third and final roll of the dice, although this was anything but a gamble. Miroslav Klose came on for Filip Djordjevic, whose performance against a Serie C level side must make the German a firm favourite to start against AC Milan.

The game began to fizzle out, but Lazio were not done. Marco Parolo followed Stefan De Vrij's lead and opened his account before Dusan Basta decided to get in on the act with Lazio's sixth of the second half and of the night, and to add insult to injury, Miroslav Klose put his name on the scoreboard with the easiest of finishes. It ended 7-0 Lazio, and Pioli can sleep easy tonight.

That being said, there are lessons to be learned from tonight's game and question marks remain over certain individuals. Bassano Virtus were by no means a threat, but Cana and De Vrij did not look comfortable and in attack, Djordjevic was worryingly anonymous while Felipe Anderson was worryingly wasteful. Once Lazio got themselves ahead, the floodgates opened but Pioli will surely be concerned at the difficulty Lazio had in breaking down a rather poor side. Nevertheless, a great start to the season and a convincing win on paper, which has to count for something.

Next up Milan at the San Siro. It never gets easier.
Author: Cathal Mullan
 
 
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