First half: Marchetti, Zauri, Diakite, Stendardo, Garrido, Cana, Ledesma, Foggia, Zarate, Sculli, Floccari.
The visitors ended last season on a flattering 9th place, but avoided relegation in the last rounds of the season. In other words, and if it was mid-season, the team from north Spain should be seen as a team Lazio should beat quite easily, but being in the middle of preparations, it is not really the results one should be looking for, but rather to straighten out some question marks, as well as getting a view into what kind of football Reja will aim at this season.
In front of approximately 3500 fans, the first half saw Lazio use 4-2-3-1 with directions to always have five players present in attack, and five players in defence. The first half did not turn out to be an indication of anything positive though, as Lazio delivered close to nothing in attack, and failed to impress in defence as well. The two central midfielders, Ledesma and Cana, showed to be a relatively weak pairing as Cana still struggles to find his form, leaving Ledesma with far too much responsibility in both ends of the pitch. Still, the captain of the first half showed a pleasing half and continued the positive spell seen during the earlier friendlies.
Seeing at the complete first 45 minutes, one can debate Lazio turned out weaker than expected. No real chance was created until Sculli found Zarate inside the penalty area after 35 minutes, but the shot from the Argentinean was saved and Floccari failed at tapping in the returning ball. Apart from a few attempts by Mauro Zarate, who once again clearly shows he is one of few in the team that has ideas in the attacking department, Lazio created nothing apart from a Floccari shot and a few half attempts that ended up in the hands of the Osasuna goalie, or outside the goal. The main problem turned out to be the lack of possession in midfield and since Ledesma did not have the time, or freedom, to add in attack and be the creative passer he can be the attacking department lacked intentions as well as chances.
Quickly looking at the defence, one can conclude Osasuna was more than enough for the defenders to handle. With Cana not being as energetic as is needed for a defensive central midfielder, the centre of the pitch remained uncovered and from here Osasuna created a few chances that they however failed to convert. Diakite showed his positioning is still not good enough. Lazio gave away a couple of dangerous free kicks outside the penalty area, and after 39 minutes Osasuna had a great chance to take the lead, but also the Spanish side failed to convert their few chances into goal. Marchetti, who was tested on a few occasions only, showed good positioning in goal and managed to keep his goal shut until half time.
Second half: Bizzarri, Scaloni, Biava, Dias, Radu, Brocchi, Matuzalem, Mauri, Hernanes, Cisse, Klose.
In the second half, as in all previous friendly games, Reja fielded a completely new eleven. With the 4-3-1-2 a lot more presence in the central department meant Lazio did not give away the possession to Osasuna like during the first 45, but Lazio still failed to impress over these 45 minutes as well.
Just as the first half, the second half was a displeasing display. With Cisse on the field, and with Brocchi being as energetic as always, the team showed a little more pace and speed, but the clear chances were absent initially. A few corners were created, mostly after Cisse having sent crosses, but throughout the game Lazio failed to convert any of them. After 56 minutes Biava went as close as Lazio came to score this game, with a good header after a corner by Hernanes, but the Osasuna defenders managed to clear the ball of the goal line. Just a few minutes after this Mauri fired a great volley after Matuzalem finding him inside the penalty box, but also this time the ball was saved. Klose went close on a couple of occasions as well, missing the goal entirely on the two best opportunities created.
Many Lazio supporters have been questioning the arrival of Djibril Cisse, but just as Zarate being the only creative force in the first half, Cisse was the most interested in the second. Not only did he create a handful corners, but he also set up Brocchi, Klose, Hernanes and Mauri throughout the half. It was also through the vivid Frenchman Lazio created a brilliant scoring opportunity on a free kick just outside the penalty area in the 84th minute, where Sergio in the Osasuna defence was forced to stop the ball with his arm and in effect was shown a red card. Unfortunately Hernanes failed to convert this free kick; despite beating the wall with power the goal keeper saved the ball without any problem. The remaining minutes of the game saw Lazio eventually create a little bit of pressure on the Osasuna goal, but the 90 minutes passed without Lazio scoring a single goal.
In this half Lazio looked more stable in defence, but despite the security present through Bizzarri in goal, Dias in the back line and Brocchi in the central midfield, it was in the second half Lazio conceded the only goal of the game. Just as many times before, Dias’ partner at the centre back, Giuseppe Biava, managed to create a brilliant shooting chance for the Spanish side. Iranian international Javad Nekonam, placed just outside the penalty area, was gifted a perfect ball by the insecure Lazio defender who tried to head the ball away on a cross. The Osasuna captain found the back of the Lazio net with a brilliantly placed shot, leaving Bizzarri with very little chance. Without a doubt Biava showed to be the weak link at the back again, raising the question whether Lazio can cope without adding a central defender ready to step in and accompany Dias.
Towards the end of the game players in both teams looked irritated, and a few yellow cards were handed out after some pushing and shoving. The Lazio players looked tired and fatigued all through the game, and if it was not for Zarate and Cisse the team would have struggled to give the many spectators anything in return. Hopefully the coming friendly games, starting with Reggina and Villarreal on 31 July, will give the management, players as well as the fans, reasons to look more brightly on the future...
This season Lazioland.com will be providing exclusive player ratings for every Lazio game. Just as the match reports at this stage is to be considered as a warm-up for the coming season, we have today also included player ratings based on Eivind Ytreland's view on the Lazio players:
(The ratings are between 1-10, where 6 is to be considered as 'Satisfactory')
First half: Second half:
Marchetti: 6 Bizzarri: 5,5
Zauri: 6 Scaloni: 7
Diakite: 6 Biava: 6
Stendardo: 7 Dias: 6
Garrido: 6,5 Radu: 6
Ledesma: 7 Brocchi: 7
Cana: 5 Mauri: 6,6
Sculli: 6,5 Matuzalem: 6
Zarate: 6,5 Hernanes: 5,5
Foggia: 5,5 Cisse: 6,5
Floccari: 6 Klose: 6
Pictures : http://lazioland.com/GallerySub.htm?AlbumId=431