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Rocco Cammisola On August - 19 - 2011

Italian Serie A 2011-2012 Club Preview: S.S. Lazio

The 2010-11 season was filled with amazing highs and relative lows for Lazio fans. Le Aquile soared to the top of the table early in the season and remained there for a month or so before toppling under the immense pressure of a wonderful Milan side. They eventually slipped down to fifth, losing out on Champions League. This could be regarded as a relative failure given their quick fire start, but after flirting dangerously with relegation the season before, fans should be glad to have European football back in their calendar.

While the signing of Hernanes was certainly a pivotal moment in the transfer campaign, but Edy Reja’s side were built on some solid foundations. Cristian Ledesma, Andre Dias, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Stefano Mauri - six goals and nine assists - all proved they were worth their match fee. Edy Reja, too, isn’t resting on his laurels and has refused to sign anything more than a one year contract extension.

Key Acquisitions

Federico Marchetti in goal, comes back into first team action after a year kicking a ball against a wall on his own in Cagliari. Djibril Cisse makes his way across the Adriatic from Olympiakos in fine scoring form - even if it is ‘only’ Greece. The biggest name is by far Miroslav Klose - for free after his contract expired.

Key Departures

Attempts have been made to lighten the wage bill but two players who will certainly be missed are Fernando Muslera, Galatasaray, and Stephan Lichtsteiner, Juventus.

Summer so far

The transfer window has been described as “the first time in Lotito’s tenure in which Lazio fans are actually able to get excited about their transfer window”. The club have brought in players to try and add depth. Bosnian left back, Senad Lulic, from Young Boys and Lorik Cana joins from Galatasaray, adding some intelligent steel to the Lazio central midfield. Abdoualay Konko joins from Genoa as a replacement for Lichtsteiner, and the bullied and exiled goalkeeper Federico Marchetti swims over from Cagliari and will replace Muslera between the sticks.

All of these have been able replacements, or added depth to the squad but the real show piece signings have been up front. Claudio Lotito has raided the war chest and signed Ex-Liverpool and Marseille striker Djibril Cisse - who has been scoring goals for fun in Greece. The marquee signing of the window, though, has to be German international striker, Miroslav Klose. Klose joins on a free transfer after his contract expired at Bayern and will be paid approximately €3 million a season, making him the highest paid player at the club. Fans will hope he can translate his form for the national team to his new club.

As well as the usual exodus of youth players on loan to sides further down the Italian league pyramid, a few bigger names have left Formello in the summer. Mark Bresciano has left for the riches of the UAE Pro League, joining Al Nasr, after seeing his playing possibilities diminish and his age increase.

Juventus have sought to plug the huge gaps in their squad at full back by purchasing Lazio’s Swiss right back, Stephan Lichtsteiner for a reported €10 million. But the most controversial exit of the summer so far has been the young goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera, who refused to sign a contract extension so was sold immediately to Galatasaray in Turkey - a strange move for a man who has just won a Copa America with his National side.

What Next

Fighting on two fronts will present a new challenge for Reja and the squad. There are certainly enough bodies there but it remains to be seen whether they possess the quality to battle for top honours among other sides who are engaging in some exciting transitional periods.

The summer has been successful in terms of bringing players in but Reja has repeatedly expressed his concern at the size of the squad. Rotation will be the order of the day - especially up front where there are 7 forwards vying for two or three places.

Competing for fourth place together with qualification from the Europa league group stage should be seen as an acceptable season, any more would be a bonus.

Man to watch

Djibril Cisse will be relishing the opportunity to have another go to impress in one of Europe’s top five leagues. He hasn’t had the best of luck over the years - two broken legs - but he will know that at 29 years of age this is his last chance.

Lazio were light on goals up front last season, which is what saw them eventually topple down the table. Cisse will be one of the main protagonists in turning this around.

He will need to be adaptable. Reja has ear marked him as one of the few players he has that will be able to play out wide in a 4-2-3-1, but he will also need to be able to forge a partnership with Miroslav Klose if he plays in a 4-3-1-2.

Prediction

Idle pre season chatter has optimistically predicted a charge toward the Champions League places this season, but battling on two fronts, the reduction in available spots from four to three and the raft of positive changes at Roma, Juventus and Inter mean that expectations need to be managed and predictions readjusted by some. A successive fifth place finish should be seen as mission accomplished.

Rocco Cammisola

Rocco is a football writer who follows football in England and Italy for a number of sites, including his own - The Football Express (.co.uk). Most of his writing focuses on the lesser talked about teams, attempting to bring them to the world's attention.

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  • Aga

    3rd place would be nice..

    Forza lazio!!!!

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