Finishing a superb third last term, Lazio had hopes of continuing that upward momentum into the new campaign. They stumbled at the first – and important – hurdle, failing to topple Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League playoff
Thumped 4-0 at Chievo days later, doubts surfaced. What had happened to the team which charged into the top three in 2014-15?
They weren’t helped by injuries. Playing in Europe and then backing up domestically with the likes of Lucas Biglia and Miroslav Klose missing took its toll. Just as in Verona, the capital club travelled to Naples on the back of a European excursion, the Europa League draw against last season’s finalists Dnipro. This time they were hammered for five.
That drew protests from irate supporters, but overcoming history has helped Lazio recover from those poor results. Perhaps it was the training retreat away from the negativity which did the squad a world of good. Whatever the catalyst, the midweek win over Genoa snapped an eight-match losing streak against the Grifoni.
Felipe Anderson was on target in the 2-0 success, a particularly important goal given his lack of playing time this season. It was a peach of a strike curled into the top corner in his first start of the campaign. Coach Stefano Pioli hoped it was a goal to give the Brazilian “belief in his own capabilities.”
Maybe the win had the same effect on the team.
Pioli accepted the Biancocelesti faced a “difficult moment” ahead of meeting Verona on Sunday. They had not won at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi since 1991. Going a goal down by the interval made the task even tougher. One point in Ukraine was all the Romans had to show from four previous away games in all competitions.
The comeback started through the returning Biglia, who netted from the penalty spot just past the hour mark. It was completed by Marco Parolo’s free kick four minutes from time, helping cure those away game blues. The Coach felt his side was unlucky to fall behind, but saw signs of improvement. “We’re recovering and we’re on the right track.”
They have two chances to carry the momentum forward ahead of the international break. Lazio host French outfit Saint-Etienne on Thursday, then Frosinone on Sunday. They’ve won four from four at the Stadio Olimpico and adding to that will show they are some way to evoking last season’s heights.