Serie A 2013-14 season previews: Lazio begin a second season under Doctor's orders

Paolo Bruno

Claudio Lotito has finally loosened the purse strings and allowed some new faces into the Lazio squad, as Vladimir Petkovic looks to build on last season's 7th place finish and Coppa Italia triumph.

Despite picking up some silverware in a relatively successful first season in charge, Petkovic will know fans will be demanding a higher league finish this time around. He leads the reigning Coppa Italia holders into battle on three fronts once again, but will need to deviate from a trusted formation and have a contingency plan should Miroslav Klose pick up an injury to avoid the pitfalls faced during the second half of last season.

Last Season

Lazio enjoyed a blistering first half of the season, which saw them progress in the Europa League and place second in Serie A over the Christmas break. Injuries and a thin squad caught up with the Biancocelesti during the second half of the season as they found playing two games a week too much and fell out of Scudetto and European contention. The Coppa Italia proved to be the club's silver lining. After edging Siena out on penalties, Lazio knocked out Catania, then Juventus over two legs, before defeating city rivals AS Roma in the final.

Who's Gone?

Modibo Diakite - The calamitous defender only made one appearance last season in the Coppa Italia due to a contract dispute and has been sold to Sunderland.

Louis Saha- The veteran striker announced his retirement after his short term deal expired in the summer.

Mauro Zarate - A fall out with the club's hierarchy kept the enigmatic Argentine away from the first team picture for most of last season. Although details remain sketchy, Zarate has apparently rescinded his contract with the club and re-joined former club Velez Sarsfield. Lazio have appealed the decision, but for now Mauro is plying his trade back in his homeland.

Who's In?

Diego Novaretti - A tall Argentinean defender, primarily used as a centre-half, the 28-year-old has arrived from Mexican side Toluca. With Michael Ciani failing to impress last season, the club have turned to Novaretti to shore up an ageing backline, after beating Manchester City to his signature.

Vinicius - The left-sided Brazilian player arrives from Cruzeiro. The deal was held up after the player failed an initial medical, but  Vinicius was finally given the all clear and joined last month. A natural left-back, Vinicius can also play further up the field as part of a five man midfield. At just 20-years-old, it's a shrewd buy with one eye on the future.

Felipe Anderson - Lazio had been pursuing the 20-year-old Brazilian since January. After being frustrated by a UK-based investment company who owned 50% of the player's registration, any potential deal was scuppered by red tape at the turn of the year. However, the club have finally netted their man. The former Santos attacking midfielder has joined for a reported fee of €9million, but has had his pre-season preparations hampered by injury. Comparisons have already been made with compatriot Hernanes and Anderson's signing has been popular amongst the Lazio fans.

Lucas Biglia - Lazio beat Arsenal and Liverpool to the signature of the 27-year-old midfielder. Already an established international with Argentina, Biglia arrives after spending seven years in Belgium with Anderlecht. The defensive midfielder has overcome a serious shoulder injury suffered at the end of 2011 and a bout of depression at the turn of the year. Biglia is tipped to become the first of the summer signings to make the breakthrough into the first team and is seen as an alternative to Cristian Ledesma.

Brayan Perea - The Colombian rounds out Lazio's South American recruits. However, due to Andre Dias going back on his decision to leave the capital, the club have filled their quota of non-EU players currently on their books. As a result, the 20-year-old has yet to join up with his new teammates. If the club fail to make space for the Deportivo Cali forward, a loan spell to another Serie A club could be an option, or he may remain in his homeland for a further season.

Keep An Eye On

Antonio Rozzi - While the talk remains on who can partner or replace Klose in attack, the 19-year-old Primavera striker has been tipped by many to make this his breakthrough season. After sporadic appearances in Europe and the Coppa Italia, Rozzi has renewed his contract for another three seasons and been promoted to the first team squad during pre-season and for the campaign ahead. With Libor Kozak constantly being linked with a move away and Rossi under Klose's tutelage in training, the frontman could be given a chance to shine on the main stage. The Italian forward has steadily made his ranks through the Under-16, 17 and 18 international setup and is currently playing at Under-19 level. Rozzi captained the Primavera side to the Campionato Nazionale title last season and looks well equipped to handle the step-up to the first team picture.

Predicted Finish

Lazio have done well to keep hold of established stars such as Federico Marchetti, Hernanes and Antonio Candreva in the summer window. They've also reinforced the midfield and if Ederson can stay fit, the club have plenty of viable options going forward. While the club remain in the market for another striker, much will depend on the fitness of Klose and the adaptability of Petkovic to deviate from his favoured 4-1-4-1 formation and fully utilise his squad. A top five finish is by no means out of the question, and neither is another good run in the Europa League. The club will be keen to defend the Coppa Italia, but the goal of reaching the Champions League looks a lofty one. With Italy only assigned three places and everyone else strengthening, Lazio's lack of immediate firepower makes that scenario look like a bridge too far.

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