Cometh the hour, cometh the Marchetti. There’s something about playing at Juventus Stadium which appeals to the Lazio shot-stopper. The capital club will take an away goals advantage into the return fixture next week and they largely have Federico Marchetti to thank for that.
After Federico Peluso climbed highest to give Juventus the lead, Stefano Mauri netted Lazio’s precious equaliser with just four minutes remaining. The captain admits Lazio suffered, but are thankful for their goalkeeper. “It is a positive result, although we struggled quite a bit in the second half. Marchetti made some really important saves.”
The second half action before and after the two strikes was dominated by the Biancocelesti glovesman. Following an opening 45 minutes in which he had little to do between being called upon in the first and final minutes, he was pivotal after the interval.
Marchetti evoked memories of November’s goalless draw from teammates and opponents alike. Sergio Floccari was full of praise: “We have a very strong goalkeeper. In matches where we suffer he becomes of added importance. Today Marchetti made some great saves – we’ll have to give him a superhero’s outfit. He was a protagonist just like in the League match.”
Meanwhile, Andrea Barzagli was one of those left frustrated but similarly in awe. “Is Marchetti enhanced against Juventus? It’s not just against us, as he is having a great season. He is a very good goalkeeper and showed that with some amazing saves in the League contest, as well as today in the Coppa Italia.”
In the Week 13 stalemate, Marchetti’s agile grace amid a barrage of Bianconeri goal-bound assaults denied Antonio Conte’s side maximum points. Even last term it took Simone Pepe’s acrobatic opener and Alessandro Del Piero’s inventive free-kick to find a way past the former Cagliari player. Neither would be present here to haunt the 29-year-old, for differing reasons.
During the second half, Luca Marrone’s penetrating ball found Alessandro Matri, but Juve’s only fully fit striker saw his volley wonderfully tipped over by the Veneto native. That was a taste of what was on the horizon. As Lazio survived a dual Arturo Vidal scare – he hit the post then fired wide seconds later – their No 22 amazed yet again. The Chilean looked certain to score when he connected with Mirko Vucinic’s pass. However, Vidal’s looping header was somehow clawed away on the line. It was stunning by Marchetti, who had to turn and fly goalward, making contact as he hit the white chalk.
The saves proved critical when Mauri reacted quickest to turn in Antonio Candreva’s corner from close range. The 1-1 scoreline ensures a goalless second leg will see Lazio through to a seventh Coppa Final and their first since triumphing in 2008-09.
Contrary to popular belief amongst stunned Bianconeri fans, the goalkeeper does perform heroics outside of their stadium. Tuesday’s match was the continuation of a fine season to date. Lazio sit third in Serie A, having conceded only 21 goals from as many matches. One reason is because they possess a goalkeeper of great reflexes, command and reliability.
What they do not possess, however, is a current Italian international. Marchetti won the last of his eight caps at the 2010 World Cup, but surely his form is worthy of a call-up. When speaking last November – after the display at Juventus Stadium – Cesare Prandelli failed to exclude the custodian, but conceded others are ahead in the pecking order.
“He is a goalkeeper who we are keeping an eye on,” stated the Azzurri boss. “I can assure you that he has not been excluded from the squad. However, at this moment in time, we have four important goalkeepers in Gigi Buffon, Salvatore Sirigu, Morgan De Sanctis and Emiliano Viviano. I can’t say what will happen in the future though so we will continue to consider everyone and then make our choices. Obviously that includes Marchetti as well.”
After his latest additions to the YouTube collection put Lazio on the brink of the Coppa decider, it will be hard for Prandelli to overlook a goalkeeper in impressive form.