Serie A 2012-13 season review: Lazio start off strong, fall away, but recover to lift some silverware

Paolo Bruno

Lazio found the task of competing on three fronts with a thin squad too much, but they did lift the Coppa Italia. Not a bad season's work.

7th; W18 D7 L13
S.S Lazio

Lazio started the season under Doctor's orders. Vladimir Petkovic replaced Edy Reja - who walked away after guiding the Biancocelesti to a fourth place finish, albeit one which finished just outside the Champions League places.

The Eagles took Serie A by storm for the first half of the season. After winning their opening three league games and qualifying for the Europa League group stages, the club went from strength to strength under Petkovic's adopted 4-1-4-1 formation. A 4-0 drubbing by Catania at the beginning of November could easily have sparked a crisis, but it did the opposite. The defeat sparked an amazing 16 game unbeaten run in all competitions, which carried Lazio into second place going into Christmas. There was drama on and off the pitch too. Mauro Zarate's refusal to go on the bench and subsequent boardroom squabbles exiled him from the squad, while a last-gasp goal from Michael Ciani spared the side's blushes in the Coppa Italia. A tense penalty shootout eventually saw off Siena in the last 16 of the competition.

When injuries caught up with Miroslav Klose and a frustrating January transfer window failed to bring in any noteworthy reinforcements, Lazio's thin squad found themselves overstretched going for glory in three competitions. Something had to give. A series of disappointing league results in early 2013 saw the side slip from Scudetto challengers to Champions League hopefuls. Catania and Juventus were both disposed of in the Coppa en route to making the Final, while German clubs Borussia Monchengladbach and VfB Stuttgart were dispatched in the Europa League. Lazio finally fell to Turkish side Fenerbahce at the quarter final stage and continued their barren run in the league, which saw their Champions League hopes evaporate. Towards the end of the campaign, Klose returned, as did Lazio's early season form. The Aquile closed out the season winning three out of their final four games, but were pipped to a European place by Udinese. Lazio still secured a route into next season's Europa League group stages by defeating city rivals AS Roma in the Coppa Italia final. It was their first trophy in four years and second victory of the season over the Giallorossi.

Most significant match
Lazio 3-2 AS Roma (11 November 2012)

Petkovic's first taste of the Derby della Capitale was a sweet one. The game had it all. Floodlight failure, heavy rain, two dismissals and plenty of goals. The waterlogged pitch didn't dampen the atmosphere and Lazio came from 1-0 down to go 3-1 up, before a late Roma flurry. Stefano Mauri and Daniele De Rossi saw red for their respective sides. Fans pinned their hopes on the Coppa Italia final being a repeat of this November game, but it was the polar opposite.

Biggest surprise
Antonio Candreva

The Udinese loanee looks to have finally found his calling out on the Lazio wing. Initially revered for allegedly being a ‘Romanista' growing up, Candreva finally won the fans over by consistently being one of the team's best performers. He produced screamers against Palermo, Roma and AC Milan and has broken into the Italian national squad. The boo-boys have now disappeared, and replaced by those hoping that Candreva remains Laziali for the foreseeable future.

Biggest disappointment
Ederson

The Brazilian midfielder arrived from Lyon on a five-year contract amidst much fanfare. Knee problems ruined the 27-year-old's pre-season, before further setbacks restricted him to just 15 league appearances. Deployed as an attacking midfielder, Ederson netted just once in Serie A and twice in the Europa League. He has struggled to shift the injury prone tag bestowed upon him. Needs to have a better second season or risk being offloaded.

What needs changing?

The team have an over-reliance on Klose. Petkovic needs to show willing and be prepared to adapt tactically to shift some of the burden off the veteran German's shoulders. More firepower is needed up front. While Klose was injured and Zarate was kicking his heels at home, Sergio Floccari and Libor Kozak struggled. Floccari did notch some important goals, but they were sporadic at best and Kozak simply couldn't transfer his prolific Europa League form to the domestic front. An ageing backline will also need addressing. The Coppa victory means that Lazio will once again have a myriad of midweek games next season. More strength in depth is simply a necessity.

Who's off in the summer?

Veteran defender Andre Dias has expressed a desire to return home to Brazil in order to be closer to his family. Modibo Diakite looks to have chosen Sunderland over Napoli after spending much of the season frozen out, stemming from his refusal to sign a new contract. Fellow defender Luis Cavanda is also close to the exit door. Pasquale Foggia has already been released and joined Dubai FC. To no-one's surprise, Mauro Zarate will also leave for pastures new after taking the club to court to try and rescind his contract. The club have thus far fended off interest from Inter Milan for Hernanes and Barcelona for Klose, while Senad Lulic has pledged his future to the club to dissuade both Juventus and Chelsea from making bids.

If Lazio keep one individual...
Hernanes

The playmaker makes Lazio tick and has done so during each of his three seasons in Rome. While Klose was out injured, it was the 28-year-old Brazilian, operating in an advanced role through the middle, who was Lazio's go to guy. He matched his first season tally of netting 11 goals in all competitions, along with countless assists and a proven ability from dead ball situations. The Lazio side will continue to profit should the Prophet opt to stay with the Olimpico outfit.

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