Wednesday January 30 2013
Hail the Doctor

Vladimir Petkovic has guided Lazio to the Coppa Italia Final after a dramatic last-minute victory over Juventus. Luca Cetta praises the tactician’s impact this term.

In July he was criticised from pillar to post. The man of eight languages would not last that many matches, if the hype was to be believed. He touched down in Italy an unknown, replacing Edy Reja. Vladimir Petkovic arrived to tackle a new challenge, one more daunting than any of his previous coaching appointments. And the early signs weren’t good. Six months on Lazio sit third in Serie A, remain in the Europa League and are through to the Coppa Italia Final.

Lazio will contest their seventh Coppa showdown after a stirring aggregate victory over Juventus. They held a slight advantage thanks to a 1-1 draw in Turin, and put one foot in the Final when Alvaro Gonzalez ghosted in at the back post to head past Marco Storari. It took until the 91st minute, but Arturo Vidal seemingly sent the match into extra time with an equaliser. Incredibly, there was still time for Sergio Floccari to put Lazio ahead, and for both Sebastian Giovinco and Claudio Marchisio to spurn glorious chances.

“We are satisfied with the result and that was a crazy game at the end, but we had the right determination to take home the result,” said the Swiss-Bosnian. “The squad is really growing and tonight’s performance proved it against a strong side like Juventus.”

Petkovic has proven a shrewd tactician. He is willing to change and adapt as their recent clash with Atalanta showed. There the Aquile altered between a back three and four throughout to winning effect. On Tuesday he outfoxed Antonio Conte. Lazio clearly have a plan when facing Juve as the dual Cup matches, plus the 0-0 League result show.

A week ago Federico Marchetti battened down the hatches, but here Juventus rarely threatened the custodian. The capital club’s defence, marshalled superbly by Andre Dias and Michael Ciani, bullied, harassed and thwarted Juve’s attackers. Aside from chances at the conclusion of each half, the Turin giants were lacklustre in front of goal. With the defence slamming the door on Juve’s Coppa aspirations, Lazio made the most of their scoring opportunities. They netted from the only two chances fired on target.

The Sarajevo native does not always rely on steely determination to win matches. His is an expansive style, making the most of Hernanes’ technical ability, the drive of Cristian Ledesma and Stefano Mauri, plus the goals of Miroslav Klose. While a Coach who wants to attack, the Doctor does not let his players shirk their defensive duties – Lazio boast Serie A’s third stingiest defence. This measured approach has benefitted Lazio greatly.

Petkovic recently reflected on those initial problems. “The first two months were difficult and I won’t forget them. Nobody believed in us, we were constantly being put on the cross. They asked why a Coach like this was in charge of Lazio...Now the same people are lauding the directors who brought me here and appreciate what the team is doing.”

As the capital club prepare for their first Coppa decider since triumphing in 2008-09, around the corner is a Europa League Round of 32 tie with Borussia Monchengladbach, while they remain in Scudetto contention. Currently on 43 points, they sit six adrift of the Bianconeri. Petkovic’s outfit even equalled the points’ tally set after 20 matches by Sven Goran Eriksson’s revered Scudetto winners of 1999-2000. While an outside Scudetto chance, they are still in the thick of Champions League contention. It would be a great reward after missing out by the narrowest of margins two seasons in a row.

Depth could be an issue in the League, but a chance to win silverware looms on the horizon. It may even occur in a Derby della Capitale – Roma go to Inter for their second leg protecting a 2-1 lead. Petkovic just wants to get his hands on the trophy. “We want to win the Coppa Italia, regardless of who our opponents will be. For the fans, a Rome Derby in the Final would be the ultimate game, but I have no preferences.” It would be quite the turnaround from the criticisms of pre-season.

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Have your say...
I have waited a little before commenting on here as i am devastated by the end result. Still i think over the 180 minutes Juve were the better team, controlled the game and the tempo. However as true as it is that Juve were better, it's more true that the difference between good sides and great ones is the finishing. Lazio proved they are a great side by creating 3 great opportunities & scored on all of them. Now if Roma beats Inter ill be a little happier. I'll support Lazio in the final though
on the 31st January, 2013 at 9:15am
Why are sub-standard players wearing the Juventus shirt when we have top youth talent? Instead of buying Peluso, why didn't we bring back Masi? We are struggling to score yet we have Immobile, Boakye and Gabbiadini playing elsewhere. How will we know if they are good enough or not to play for Juventus if we don't give them the opportunity? Is Beltrame not worthy of a chance before Giaccherini, Isla or Padoin? For an example of how successful putting faith in youth look at the mighty Pogba.
on the 31st January, 2013 at 3:31am
Juventus need more than a striker, we need to get rid of players who are just not consistent enough or simply not good enough to play for the Champions of Italy.I would sell the following...Vucinic, Matri, Giovinco, Marchisio, Isla, Giaccherini, Peluso and Padoin. Marchisio coasts through many games is not going to get any better, Pogba is already at a different level and Asamoah is a better central midfielder. We need a game changer and it should be Gareth Bale, he would rip up Serie A.
on the 31st January, 2013 at 2:04am
Juventus now have forwards that cannot be trusted when the big moments arrive in big games. We have players (Giaccherini, Isla, Peluso and especially Padoin) who are only good enough for provincial teams, not the Champions of Italy. Giovinco and Marchisio should be begging for mercy from all Juventus' fans. Giovinco hit the only part of the goal that Marchetti had a chance of saving the ball and Marchisio just couldn't miss!! Our defence is magnificent and are been let down time and time again.
on the 31st January, 2013 at 1:40am
Lazio were the better team through two legs. Believe that real character is there to challenge for CL this year. Vlad is perfect manager, tactic perfect. Lazio will win in final, no matter there be Roma or Inter. Simply, Lazio are very, very strong. Stronger than Roma, in all phase.
on the 31st January, 2013 at 12:57am
The problem is that year in year out the pressure on the team is to great, they cant breath. Our players are scared to make a mistake. The recent booing of Tachsitis makes me really mad, he has openly said how it effects his confidence. I am a realistic roma fan unlike a lot of our fans who I know where expecting a scudetto challenge this year. It takes time but there is no patience, unless things change in rome, I fear year in year out potentially could be the same, which is heartbreaking.
on the 30th January, 2013 at 8:14pm
Daniel I agree Zeman doesnt focus enough on the defense in training. What is really worrying is the amount of mistakes we make in defense both collectively and individually. No one seems able to stand up and take responsibility. Both matches with Bologna where horror shows in particular. We gift teams so many goals, its basic school boy errors, errors that shouldnt happen so regularly regardless of who the coach.
on the 30th January, 2013 at 8:10pm
Lazio where the better team over 2 legs, and with confidence back i sill think we can get second place.

I just hope we dont get tired with the extra games Europe and the final will throw at us.

Please, please give us oma nthe fnal, i can see Lazio's name on the cup now
on the 30th January, 2013 at 8:05pm
Compliments to Petkovic and Lazio. Excellent and when it seemed to have gone against them at the end they turned it on again. Some character they have. Would be great to see a Derby della capitale so fingers crossed Roma can get there- and Napoli win the scudetto of course!
on the 30th January, 2013 at 7:20pm
Sam you are right! In a one-off game, anything can happen, and it was foolish of me to write-off a team with the attacking talent of Roma. Like I said in my previous post Zeman just doesn't seem to be able to create a tight defensive unit: maybe that's why Zago has been brought in. I believe that Roma's defenders are good, I just feel that Zeman doesn't focus enough on the defence in training, because during games they are all over the place.
on the 30th January, 2013 at 7:12pm
Well done to Lazio who played well over the two legs.Once again Juve were inept up front and it is obvious that we need an effective frontman.We should have negotiated the release of Llorente now,as he is available for the CL and would ensure another scudetto.
We need a striker now!!!! Is it just me or is the pressure of playing for Juve too much for Giovinco? Vucinic,a stonewall penalty!!!
on the 30th January, 2013 at 7:02pm
Hats off to Lazio for playing a really good game. As a lifelong Juve fan its a hard one to digest and for once I do not agree with Conte. If Lazio are able to withstand us for 180min and BEAT US, they deserved it. Sure Juve had alot of possession, but they didnt do alot with it, not good enough. Lazio on the hand did. They earned it more as the result shows. What scares me is Conte thinks we played well, we didn't! Kept the ball as usual, but rarely the end product up front.
on the 30th January, 2013 at 6:54pm
Juve should threw all the 5 strikers ... and marotta please milan sign balo for 20m wiwill pay them in 6 years, whatbthe hell u r doing siging anelka.!!!! and more over its never happened that galatasaray beat us by signing drogba... Moggi you where the king of the market....
on the 30th January, 2013 at 5:08pm
Dan I agree about Juve, you are spot on. I disagree about Roma. If we get to the final then form and previous results go out the window. The derby is like no other game, form goes out of the window in these games. We can beat Lazio in the final if we get there. I believe that. Zeman is the prime reason we are struggling, no defensive no how and inept tactics.Dodo, Castan, Balzaretti and Burdisso just arent up to scratch, I rate Marquinho though. If we strengthen big in this area we can go far.
on the 30th January, 2013 at 3:17pm
Sam, I just cannot see Roma beating Lazio right now. Roma are just far too naive in defence. As much as I admire Zeman for his attacking approach, and bottle in giving youngsters a chance; I don't believe that he has the tactical acumen to better Petkovic.

During my life-time Juve have had a Platini, Baggio, & Del Piero. None of the current forwards have 1% of the intellect, composure, creativity, and ability of those legends; & that is the real problem with the current team.
on the 30th January, 2013 at 2:40pm
GREAT GAME Lazio and thoroughly deserved. It is not about how you play but how many goals you score and you took yours and dfended well. All of Italy was behind you and its great seeing Juve lose. I'm waiting for more complaints from Juve fans but lets face it you cannot score and Giovinco...well with the amount of diving he does he could be Italy's best chance of a medal at the olympics diving event!
on the 30th January, 2013 at 12:39pm
He's a good coach, I will give him that. And I will say Lazio deserved to go through, but also I will say Juve deserved it even more.

With their second team, Juve dominated the majority of the match and some decisive Ref decisions went against them.

I miss DelPiero :(
on the 30th January, 2013 at 11:54am
Juve need to get Anelka playing asap. I am far from convinced in him, even as a short term solution, but frankly he can't be any worse than Juves current inept strike force. If Juve had any sense they would have made a big money offer to Swansea for Michu, he is an amazing player and exactly what Juve need, which is a proven finisher, who doesnt need loads of chances to score 1 goal.
on the 30th January, 2013 at 11:43am
In respnse to "Mr Lazio" its refreshing to see a lazio fan on here showing some respect. Hopefully see you in the final in which will hopefully be a great specticle. Forza roma. I agree that conte wasnt really bothered about coppa italia, but my god juve are so inept upfront. They need lopez or another top striker now. Juve are in real danger of winning nothing this season, I never imagined I would be saying this a few months ago. Get the cheque book out Marotta before its too late.
on the 30th January, 2013 at 11:38am
Devastated at last night, Conte for a second season in a row has thrown away silverware by fielding a Juve B side. Giovinco was AWFUL. Isla is shocking full stop, in all the games he has played i think i have seen him get the ball into the box twice, he just cant beat his man and get a good cross in. Padoin was non-existent. And the 19 year wait for the Coppa Italia and Silver Star continues.......... If we continue like this we wont be bringing home the Scudetto, we can't score!!!!
on the 30th January, 2013 at 11:22am
Well done Lazio! Marchetti deserves a call up to the national team. However lets not get ahead of ourselves in overly praising Lazio - its pretty clear the Juve management put little emphasis on the Coppa judging from the players fielded last night. It was effectively the Juve B team - and most of them were rubbish! Also as the season goes on its becoming increasingly clear Juve have one of the weakest strike forces in Serie A. Not good!
on the 30th January, 2013 at 10:55am
What drama! And credit to Lazio, they have an excellent attitude, and this is a reflection of their classy coach. I do believe that Conte got his team selection wrong. Padoin just doesn't do anything of note, and Giovinco's end product is sub-standard. This game once again highlighted Juve's lack of creativity, in the final third; and without Pirlo, they are all graft with little craft. Del Piero has left a huge void!
on the 30th January, 2013 at 10:50am
Get through inter and we have a chance at redemption. Beating Lazio in the coppa italia final would change everything from a negative to a positive regardless of where we finish in the league. We need to do everything possible to qualify for europe throguh the league though. I think realistically we can finish 5th in the league and get europa spot and win coppa italia, which would turn out not to be a bad season at all. Forza Roma.
on the 30th January, 2013 at 10:32am
Oh My!!!!!! What a night I had Forza Lazio!!! What a crazy game indeed when Vidal scored I feared Juve would beat us in Extra time, But Floccari oh yes get in!! but then Giovinco and Marchisio what a miss...Marchetti genius! blow up ref I was saying lol, fantastic for Lazio over two legs we struggled but spiit mixed with a bit of luck and taking our chances we did it...giant leap to win something fingers crossed we win the final! Giovinco do you want to dive a bit more??
on the 30th January, 2013 at 10:29am

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