Sunday Apr 30, 2017  
     
 
  28/11/2011: The Bite - Lazio's Unsung Heroes
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Most people would associate Lazio’s good start to the season with Miroslav Klose and Federico Marchetti, and they have been brilliant. But it’s the quiet players you don’t hear too much about who are keeping Lazio’s clock ticking. For instance, makeshift centre back Marius Stankevicius has had a brilliant last couple of games filling in for the absent Guiseppe Biava. Mobido Diakité has also found himself a key player in Lazio’s start due to Andre Dias missing action through injury.

Stankevicius was originally brought from Sampdoria as a right sided defender in the Mercato, but his ability to adapt when needed has been welcomed by Reja. Looking very calm on the ball, himself and Diakité have looked unbreakable at times. After a shaky start in defence it seems the Biancoceleste have overcome their defending problems. Stephan Radu is nearing full fitness and Abdoulay Konko has been Lazio’s very own Ashley Cole at times.

While not getting as much attention as the original title contenders, Lazio are making steady progress as they try to prove their doubters wrong. While Napoli and Juventus have some tough up and coming fixtures, Lazio face Novara and Lecce in the coming weeks and if Reja’s men take maximum points from these games they could soon find themselves top of the pile again.

There was a lot of concern early on in the season, about Lazio’s style of play but they found themselves in a great position going into the international break. While the recent game against Juventus was a great show of strength from Lazio, they lost the game. Juventus never threatened Lazio and Reja’s team ran the game for the majority, had it not been for Buffon in goal Lazio could have easily won the game. The team are slowly finding new ways to play football and more importantly playing together.

Christian Brocchi is the latest midfielder to be hit with an injury and with the must-win game against Vaslui in Romania coming up, Brocchi will hopefully recover in time, but if not Lazio now have three key players in the midfield out injured with Stefano Mauri and Francelino Matuzalem already out. This might give summer signing Lorik Cana a chance to also prove his worth as Edy Reja battles through this injury crisis.

While what was once a bit of concern for a lot of fans about strength in depth, players who have had to fill in for their injured team mates have done a great job, and will certainly give Edy Reja some selection headaches over the coming weeks. As the games come thick and fast Lazio keep adding points to the board, they are looking more and more like a complete team, but I keep asking myself what is the thin line that separates Lazio from being genuine contenders for the Scudetto? For me they have shown they can be up there come May and anything other than a top three finish would be disappointing. Each and every player is doing a job for the team now and the character the Biancoceleste are showing is that of a Scudetto winning team.

(Ben Lally)
 
 
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