BLOG ITALIA
Wednesday May 15 2019
Lazio rise to the occasion

Football Italia’s Chief Correspondent, Richard Hall, reflects on a fantastic Coppa Italia Final for Lazio after they beat Atalanta 2-0 at the Olimpico.

All of Bergamo descended on Rome on Wednesday, desperate for a chance to see Atalanta win their second Coppa Italia, the last coming in 1963. The hysterical and almost religious nature of their support was only part of the delicious cocktail that was this Final. Lazio may have not been drooled over this season like Atalanta. Far from it. In fact, they had created more negative Press than positive. However, they were not going to let these pretenders enter the Eternal City and win the Coppa, that was clear, not if the Romans could do anything about it.

With a 60-year-old Coach, who until recently had been largely ignored, a budget no way comparable with many of Italy’s big boys and with a youth system that, for once, wasn’t the main component of this team, what Atalanta have done is exceptional. None are prouder of their team in Italy than the people of Bergamo, whose side give every newborn baby a home kit and an offer - to pledge allegiance to their colours. They are people who live and breathe their club, even in the bad times. It is no wonder that, with their team looking in a superb position to qualify for the Champions League and the fact that they were in a Coppa Final, that excitement verged on hysteria.

Lazio arrived at the Olimpico in a different mood. Yes, they had beaten Cagliari in their last league game, but they had also tellingly been beaten by Atalanta, 3-1 on home oil. This was after the away side came back from a goal down. They’re good at that. Simone Inzaghi has been under pressure as the Aquile have slipped to a disappointing eighth spot, while recent defeats to Chievo, Milan and SPAL haven’t helped. What is more, their off-field issues with the fans, in particular their racist chanting against Milan and targeting of Tiemoue Bakayoko, has cast a shadow over their season. Even Claudio Lottio, their President, felt the need to warn against such behaviour before the Coppa Italia Final. The Italian media and the public’s perception had already painted this Final as ‘the light against the dark’. 

Build-up to the game was marred by trouble, as was perhaps expected. The rivalry between Lazio and Atalanta saw water cannons and tear gas deployed as trouble spread and a police car was burned. In truth, this seemed not to involve Atalanta fans as most were already in the stadium. Instead, ultras from the capital club took the opportunity to clash with police in the Ponte Milvio area of the capital.

The teams arrived on the field to unrelenting rain, but it couldn’t drench the tumultuous atmosphere or high-octane start. Both sides were here to attack, both to counter and both to administer the first blow. Lazio looked the better side for a majority of the first half, although Atalanta’s chances seemed the clearest. The match started at a blistering pace and when the half-time whistle went, it felt like the tempo had never waned. The second half saw no let-up, Ciro Immobile left the field and Jose Luis Palomino saved the day for the Dea, however the quality on display was poor. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic ran out the hero, heading in the only goal just minutes after coming on, redeeming perhaps a poor personal campaign. More was to come as an Argentine was to own the night moments later.

Lazio can look back at their season and feel that the Coppa Italia has justified their efforts. There is no hiding that they underperformed in Serie A. That is, however, to the high standards they set themselves in seasons gone by. Off-field incidents were rightly or wrongly forgotten for a night, but the team did themselves proud. Inzaghi has proved again that he is one of the most promising young Coaches on the peninsula, yet this campaign has been tough. When Joaquin Correa killed the contest off, he reminded everyone that the story of this season had a final chapter that stays in Rome.

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Have your say...
And neither commentator seemed to understand why Radu came on for Bastos (who was begging to be sent off). Had either done any prep re: Lazio? Caceido should have started on form. Of course he should have replaced Ciro. Not sure why we have non-Italians commentating these matches - NBC which has the BPL rights in the States - has two brits (Arlo something and former players).
on the 16th May, 2019 at 2:57pm
Simo did everything right "in-match" and made a good decision to start Marusic over Romulo. Caceido made a difference. Bastos was trying to get sent off. SMS showed his quality. Well done ragazzi! BTW - poor display by ESPN in the states. Footage ended midway through SSL players receiving their medals. I gasp to think of what would have happened if the match went to extra time! And Bonetti was clueless. Wanted Correa to come off instead of Ciro for Caceido.
on the 16th May, 2019 at 2:55pm
that shot would've ended at least 2 metres wide from goal if bastos didn't deflect it into the post. i guess that was VAR referees' reasoning - it would've been a very cheap penalty along with the fact that it obviously wasn't an intentional handball.
that was atalanta's only good chance in the whole game btw.
lazio deserved this. atalanta will get to champions league probably so they don't have much to be sad about, great season for them
on the 16th May, 2019 at 12:39pm
that shot would've ended at least 2 metres wide from goal if bastos didn't deflect it into the post. i guess that was VAR referees' reasoning - it would've been a very cheap penalty along with the fact that it obviously wasn't an intentional handball.
that was atalanta's only good chance in the whole game btw.
lazio deserved this. atalanta will get to champions league probably so they don't have much to be sad about, great season for them
on the 16th May, 2019 at 12:38pm
To Sten: Oh really? If some ultras doing stupid things, then all Laziale fans is "Mussolini-lovers? maybe you can check your head in the shower room.

If we just rewind to Lazio last season, we will see why we didnt play in this year CL. And that Bastos hand was 50/50, he locked his arm in L position (defending face).

Grande Laziale!!! Coppa is ours!
on the 16th May, 2019 at 12:05pm
The handball was rightly not given in my opinion. The hand diverted the ball goalwards (was going wide). The resulting deflection hit the post.

As for Simone Inzaghi, he should be treated as the club hero he is. He should be kept on, i see no reason why he should be sacked. He has a team which makes too many individual errors, not tactical. Luis Felipe, Acerbi and Bastos are all solid. But Wallace is a human hand grenade. He can do some great things, but he needs to work on playing it safe.
on the 16th May, 2019 at 11:58am
Be a man, don't be a whining b**tch GIAN! Deal with it, say Viva Lazio hahaha.
on the 16th May, 2019 at 9:41am
Be a man, don't be a whining b**tch GIAN! Deal with it, say Viva Lazio hahaha
on the 16th May, 2019 at 9:40am
Deal with it Gian! Be a man, don't be a whining bitch!
on the 16th May, 2019 at 9:38am
Not giving penalty for that handball is scandalous. And please, no-one wants to see bucnh of right wing, mussolini-lovin nazio dicks in europe..
on the 16th May, 2019 at 6:55am
I don't know what's worse: the missed handball; or the journalists deliberately winding up Gasperini by shoving the video of the incident in his face. He could well be banned even though his comments are completely understandable. It's just very unfair on him and Atalanta. I've decided that if Milan don't finish 4th that I want Gasperini to be the new Milan manager. I totally dig his style.
on the 16th May, 2019 at 1:51am
As a Lazio i am happy we won the coppa italia congratulations to Inzaghi. He has done a excellent job BUT we are still inconsistent in Serie A matches as we sometimes suffer blank outs in defence. Inzaghi should stay for 1 more season and aim for the Champions League and if we dont get it then its time for a manager change someone who can get the champion league place. Also for next season we need to buy quality defenders and buy a better striker as Immobile cant score all the time.
on the 16th May, 2019 at 1:43am

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