Lazio: Marchetti, Scaloni, Biava, Dias, Radu, Mauri (69’ Cavanda), Ledesma (79’ Del Nero), Matuzalem, Hernanes, Cissè, Klose (79’ Floccari). (Berrardi, Crescenzi, Fagioli , Onazi). Coach: Edoardo Reja.
Villarreal: Diego Lopez, Mario, Zapata, Marchena, Joan Oriol, Cani, Bruno, Senna, Camunas, Borja Valero, Rossi. (Cesar, Gonzalo, Musacchio, Nilmar, Wakaso, Ruben, Gerard.) Coach: Juan Carlos Garrido
3-1 (2-1): 14’ Rossi, 20’ Cani. 45+1’ Cissè, 74’ Wakaso
Friendly games have one main objective: to try out new things and test different ideas in order to become prepared for the more serious business. This must be kept in mind, else the display of Lazio against Villarreal in “Trofeo de la Ceramica” would be giving more depressing signals than needed.
No doubt Villarreal turned out to be an opposition too good for Lazio on the day, and the 90 minutes gave the ‘El Madrigal’ spectators a few reasons to smile. For the Lazio supporters, few in numbers but yet making their presence heard, not much to be happy about was presented. The Italian side barely created one scoring opportunity, and at the back things looked as shaky as ever.
Reja tested out a new midfield, consisting of a flatter four man midfield than we have gotten used to. The result was that Ledesma and Matuzalem had few options to play in the depth of the midfield, and that Hernanes and Mauri were stranded out on the flanks. Surely the four midfielders could be used in a better tactical disposition, but the formation needed to be tested at some point. The dysfunctional cooperation between the players was also transmitted to the defense, where Scaloni on the right had a busy night trying to stand against the quick opposition. Biava and Dias in the central department felt more out of sync than normal, and once again the question of how to create a flawless central defense emerged. Radu, the one player many consider should replace Biava, had less to do this evening as he was mostly isolated on the left side.
The result of the unbalanced, heavy-looking and tired Lazio was all felt by Marchetti in the goal, who is still trying to get back to his normal standard after having missed the last season entirely. 1-0 came after Rossi found some space behind the defenders and decided to fire a shot towards Marchetti’s right hand post. The shot was well placed and hard, but the goal keeper should have covered his first post and denied the Italy international his first goal in front of his home crowd this season. After just 20’ on the clock, and without Lazio having showed any attempt to attack for a quick reply, it was time for another Villarreal goal. A lively Cani made use of a sloppy Lazio defense after having headed home a rebound given by Marchetti, who had stopped the player’s shot nicely with his legs.
Lazio tried a little harder after the second goal, and when Mauri or Hernanes managed to carry the ball forward from a more central position, Lazio looked slightly more dangerous. A few corners were created, where the one headed over by Dias after 28’ was the team’s best chance before Cissè managed to get one back for Lazio just before half time. Most of the half had seen the two strikers, Klose and Cissè, left very much alone trying to do something with the long balls aimed at either of them. Klose never really got to any scoring opportunity, and Cissè mostly was caught offside throughout the game. One time the Frenchman managed to stay on the right side, and a deflected Hernanes’ pass found Cissè who had an easy time finishing the attack off.
The second 45 minutes did not look any better. Lazio again created some corners, Hernanes and Cisse tried shooting from distance and Klose tried to dribble himself in position. Marchetti got to make a few saves, and to get out of goal to stop Villarreal attackers coming one on one. Nilmar, who had been subbed in at half time, shook the Lazio defenders on a few occasions and could have been awarded a penalty at 67’ as Marchetti missed the ball trying to stop the attacker, who went down asking for a penalty. Overall, the game in the second half gave little; both teams looked exhausted with Lazio looking uninterested and unfocused with many missed passes over the 90 minutes.
A sparkling shot by Wakaso, another Villarreal substitute, did wake the game up for a short time in the second. With only 15 minutes remaining of the game the 20-year old Ghanaian took a massive shot from far out, after having been given the space by the non-existing pressure from the Lazio defenders, leaving Marchetti with no chance of stopping the ball as it entered the top left corner.
Lazio did not manage to create one clear attempt at the Villarreal goal in the end of the second half, and in the end the result can be seen as flattering for the Italians. Coach Reja has plenty to think about, as many believe today’s line-up should be seen as an indication of his preferred choice for the start of the season. The decision to leave Zarate, Rocchi and Brocchi (amongst others) in Fiuggi to face Reggina might not have been the best decision for the result at ‘El Madrigal’, but for the future the two games might have been giving answers to a few of the questions that remain before the season kicks-off in August.
This season Lazioland.com will be providing player ratings based on the collective opinion of several contributors. The players are rated between 1-10, where 6 represents “Satisfactory”:
Del Nero: 5,5