Serie A Previews: Lazio Not Likely To Fly High This Season

ROME, ITALY - AUGUST 16: Mauro Zarate of SS Lazio in action during the pre-season friendly match between SS Lazio and Malmo FF at Olimpico Stadium on August 16, 2012 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Lazio may be dreaming of a top-three finish, but a lack of new signings combined with the uncertainty of a new coach will make it difficult for them to finish higher than last season.

Our Lazio preview comes from new contributor Shaun Best, an England-based supporter of the club who has previously contributed at You can find him on Twitter at Shaun_Best.

Lazio have a new tactician on the bench and an owner continuing to keep the club on a tight allowance. Contract disputes and experimenting with different formations have taken precedence over new signings. Fans will be left dreaming of what might have been in the Champions League while they navigate their way through the Europa League.

Last Season

It was a case of déjà vu for Biancocelesti fans, as for the second successive season, Lazio were pipped to the Champions League by Udinese. The sale of key players in January coupled with poor results during the latter half of the campaign cost the club dearly, as they relinquished their firm grip on third place.

Who's Gone

Edy Reja - Fed-up with President Claudio Lotito's lack of a transfer policy, seeing key players sold then not replaced, Reja walked away at the end of the campaign. Lotito had rebuffed two prior resignation attempts during the season and begged Reja to stay, but the Italian couldn't be convinced.

Javier Garrido - The Manchester City misfit has returned for a second stab at success in the Premier League with Norwich City.

Guglielmo Stendardo - Has made his loan move to Atalanta a permanent one.

Fringe player Stephen Makinwa has been released after failing to make an impression during his six years in Rome.

Infrequently seen shot-stopper Juan Pablo Carrizo has opted to stay frozen out and catch a cold rather than catch crosses at Pescara. Former Italian winger Pasquale Foggia has also turned down moves to QPR, Cagliari and Cesena despite being deemed surplus to requirements.

Meanwhile, Brazilian bruiser Matuzalem has been put out to pasture while the club try to offload him. After stating his desire to leave the club, Matuzalem tried to backtrack on Facebook and even bought a new house in Rome. However, the Lazio hierarchy are keen to move him on with Milan sounding out the possibility of gaining his signature.

Who's In

Vladimir Petkovic - The 48 year-old Bosnian is making his Serie A coaching bow. Petkovic impressed club officials after saving Swiss club FC Sion from certain relegation last season, despite having a 36-point penalty imposed on them. Whereas Reja took a cautious approach to games, Petkovic is the polar opposite and prefers an attacking 4-4-2 formation. This has proved to be quite problematic in execution, with the Eagles suffering unexpected pre-season losses to Siena, Torino, Galatasaray and Getafe. Worryingly for fans, the team failed to register a goal in any of those losses. A switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation has seen a moderate upturn in fortunes with the club defeating Malmo 2-1 in their final pre-season game.

Mauro Zarate - A crowd favourite, the Zarate Kid returns to the Olimpico after a disappointing loan spell at Inter. The equivalent of a new signing, Mauro has returned to Rome to rediscover his form and have a crack at playing for Argentina. Often clashing with former boss Reja and voicing his displeasure at being played out of position, the temperamental Zarate is now working with a clean slate. His refusal to restructure his contract has alerted Galatasaray, but the club remain confident of keeping him.

Ederson - Lazio had been courting the Brazilian ever since he moved to Lyon four years ago. The move failed to materialise in January, but he's finally joined on a free transfer, signing a five year deal. Primarily an attacking midfielder, the 26-year-old can also operate on either flank. Hasn't had much of a pre-season, and is currently working his way back to fitness after picking up a knee injury in training.

Antonio Candreva - Forget the fact that he's been pictured wearing a Roma shirt in his younger days. We all make mistakes. The playmaker has had his loan from Udinese extended for another season. Can easily play in a three man midfield and contributed three goals during the second half of the last campaign.

Keep An Eye On

Hernanes - Has been linked with a move all summer, but repeated his desire to stay in the Capital. Substituted in 21 of the 31 games he started last season under Reja, but now working under a new coach. Injury curtailed his season and a chance of returning to the Brazil fold. Now fully settled in Rome, the dead ball specialist will be eager to improve on last season's eight goal tally.

Predicted Finish

Top Five

While their main rivals have strengthened in personnel, Lazio have toiled. Failure to strengthen an ageing back line and fragile attack could be telling. Veteran frontmen Miroslav Klose and Tommaso Rocchi know where the net is, but their bodies won't allow them to play every game. The genius of Zarate will also depend on which side of the bed he gets out of. That being said, I expect the club to come out fighting. Regardless of how Modibo Diakite's contract renegotiations go, a new defender is expected to come in before the end of the transfer window. Club captain Stefano Mauri will also be keen to restore his reputation after having his name sullied during the betting scandal which rocked Serie A this summer. The Eagles have the quality to fly high, but failure to find form and consistency could see them have their wings clipped just as easily.

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