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SS Lazio Finally Heading down the Right Path

Posted by Marzia Hazra Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The contrasts between the two football clubs of the Eternal City couldn’t have been more evident. While AS Roma has surfaced as title contenders, their city rivals, SS Lazio, are hovering close to the relegation zone.

The objective ahead of the new season was a top-six finish. However, Delio Rossi left in the summer due to back room issues and the Coppa Italia triumph under the guidance of the current Palermo boss at the end of last season is a very distant memory at this point.

It’s not that the Biancocelesti doesn’t possess quality in the squad; instead it has been a string of incredibly poor performance under the negative shackles of Rossi’s successor, Davide Ballardini, in combination with the constant drama very much aided by club president Claudio Lotito which has dragged the club down to its current situation. Among other things, the Aquile president left both Goran Pandev and Cristian Ledesma out of the squad after the duo expressed their desire to leave, claiming the pair to be “rebels”.

The axe had been hovering over Ballardini’s head for months, but on Feb 10 the coach was handed a pink slip. The capital club had up to that point collected a mere seven wins out of 31 outings in all competition and in the league they had accumulated only 22 points in their 23 games.

Despite players such as Mauro Zarate and Julio Cruz in their ranks, the team had only scored 17 goals in their 23 league outings - a goal tally which Udinese forward Antonio Di Natale currently boasts as top scorer in the Peninsula. A quick scan through the results also reveals that the Aquile has scored more than one goal a game on only two occasions this campaign.

Why the club president waited so long to act is up for debate, but the change in management was inevitable which means that the delay has only done the club harm - especially considering how excruciatingly obvious Ballardini’s inability to motivate his players and lack of ideas has been during the past months.

On the same day as Ballardini’s dismissal, Lotito announced his successor, Edoardo Reja who was to step in with immediate effect, having already terminated his contract with Croatian outfit, Hajduk Split.

The appointment of the ex-Napoli boss has been applauded considering the amount of experience he brings to the table as well as his ability to work with limited resources. Let’s not forget the 64-year olds impressive run with the Partenopei as he guided the club from Serie C1 to Italy’s top tier in four short years.

The new coach immediately demanded free reins and access to all available players at the club - which clearly meant that outcast Ledesma was to be reinstated to the squad. The unsettled midfielder hasn’t played a single match for his side this season but the Argentine’s quality will no doubt aid the team which has struggled all season to link together the defense and attack.

It will be Reja’s job to find stability, integrate the old players with the latest acquisitions as well as insert a good deal of confidence into his players. The Biancocelesti has to start working as a unity and more importantly - start scoring the goals.

Reja’s debut game against Parma on matchday 24 ended in a success as Lazio beat Parma 2-0 - on the road. The capital club has taken, what seems to be the first step toward recovery, however, with only 14 games left to play, it could really go either way for Lazio.

Time will tell if they manage to cling on to Italy’s top tier come May.

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