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  • Writer's pictureLazio Stories

1971-72 Season overview


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The previous season had been disastrous and Lazio had been relegated. Problems between manager Juan Carlos Lorenzo and President Umberto Lenzini marred the campaign right from the start and the team did not live up to expectations. At the end of the first half of the season they were last with just nine points. There then had been a slight improvement and with five games to the end of the season Lazio were 14th together with Fiorentina, one point behind Sampdoria and Varese. The next game was at home against the Viola but they did not go beyond a goalless draw. The game after was also a home draw but this time it was 2-2 with Juventus. Three games to the end and more or less the situation was the same as two matches earlier. There was still hope. But two defeats in the next crucial games against Varese and Vicenza meant  relegation to Serie B. Lorenzo was sacked and it was Bob Lovati who managed the team for the Cup of the Alps. Lazio managed to win the prestigious trophy by beating Basel in the final.

 

Lenzini chose rising star Tommaso Maestrelli as new head coach. He had a number of interesting ideas and convinced Lazio’s two star players, Giorgio Chinaglia and Pino Wilson to stay. The Biancocelesti’s game would revolve around these two players.

 

There were many goodbyes in the summer transfer window and a few interesting arrivals, so there was optimism for the start of the season which began with the Coppa Italia at the end of August.


Coppa Italia Round One

 

The 1971-72 Coppa Italia was divided into two phases. A first one, played between the end of August and mid September 1971, involved seven groups with five teams each. Whoever topped each group would go onto the second phase together with the past winner of the Coppa Italia (in this case Torino) to be played in June 1972. In the first phase Lazio were grouped with Roma, Atalanta, Perugia and Ternana. The first game of the season was the derby played on August 29. Despite their inferior level Lazio managed to win thanks to a Chinaglia goal and great saves from Claudio Bandoni. The Biancocelesti had not won the derby for six years so there were wild celebrations. Lazio played Atalanta in Bergamo for game two. A difficult match with chances for both sides but in the end it turned out goalless. In the third, Lazio won 3-1 against Perugia and were now a solitary first with 5 points, Perugia, Ternana and Roma on 3, Atalanta 2. Despite only needing a draw to proceed to the second round, in their final match of group 6 Lazio beat Ternana 2-0. The Biancocelesti were the only Serie B team to reach the second phase.


Serie B

 

In the campionato they struggled a little bit in the beginning even if they were never far off the promotion zone. After ten games they were fifth but then three consecutive wins (Livorno away, Catania and Perugia at home) took them to second place which they kept until mid January when a loss at Foggia sent them down to third place. That is where they were at the end of the first half of the season but just one point behind leaders Palermo and Ternana. 

 

In the next five games Lazio were a little too inconsistent and the top two teams pulled away and had a five point lead over the Biancocelesti who had been caught up by Reggiana. After game 28 Maestrelli and Co dropped from the promotion zone and were fourth but recovered in the next game by winning the crucial game against Reggiana. This was a confidence booster and by the end of April they were joint second with Palermo and one point behind leaders Ternana. A loss at Perugia and a home draw with Taranto meant that with five games to the end of the season the table read Ternana 43, Palermo 42, Lazio 41, Reggiana and Como 40. 

 

Game 34 of the season saw Lazio beat Modena, Palermo win at home against Brescia, Como crush Sorrento and the other two draw. Palermo and Ternana 44, Lazio 43, Come 42, Reggiana 41.

 

In the next round, Palermo lost to Novara, Lazio drew at Reggio Calabria, Ternana won at Sorrento, Como drew and Reggiana won. Ternana 46, Lazio and Palermo 44, Reggiana and Como 43. 

 

The third last game saw Lazio win a crucial tie against Foggia, Ternana beat Reggiana and draws for Palermo and Como. Ternana 48, Lazio 46, Palermo 45, Como 44, Reggiana 43.

 

The very important penultimate games saw Lazio win at Genoa, Como at Novara, Palermo at home to Cesena and losses for Ternana and Reggiana, the latter were now out of the race. Lazio and Ternana topped Serie B with 48 points, Palermo were on 47, Como 46. 

 

All Lazio needed was a draw at Bari in the last match to secure promotion. And this is exactly what happened. The Biancocelesti were back in the top tier after just one year of purgatory.

 

What worked and what did not

 

Lazio did certainly not play champagne football (not yet, that would come soon however) but had a very good attack with Giorgio Chinaglia top Serie B scorer with 21 goals and Giuseppe Massa with 12. Also very important was the contribution of Alessandro Abbondanza with his seven goals and the excellent goalkeeper Claudio Bandoni who performed a number of miracles during the course of the year. The defenders too played well particularly Wilson, Mario Facco and Giuseppe Papadopulo. What the team needed however was a play maker and that should be the number one target for the summer transfer window.

 

Coppa Italia second group round

 

At the end of the season Lazio had to play the second group phase of the Coppa Italia. For the second phase, the eight qualified teams were divided into two groups with the winners qualifying for the final. Lazio were paired with Napoli, Fiorentina and Bologna.

 

In the first game Lazio beat Fiorentina 1-0 but in the next two matches the Biancocelesti lost 5-1 against Napoli (and 1-0 at home with Bologna. They drew away in Florence 1-1 in the 4th game. 

 

So with two games to go Napoli were on 6 points, Bologna 4, Fiorentina and Lazio 3. Chances to get to the final were slim, but the Biancocelesti had nothing to lose. The Biancocelesti thrashed the Neapolitans 3-0 so coming into the last game Napoli were first on 6 points, Fiorentina and Lazio on 5, Bologna on 4.

 

Lazio were unable to beat Bologna in the final match, so Napoli qualified for the final. They were then beaten by Milan.

 

An excellent season for Lazio overall. The objective was promotion and promotion it was. You could not really ask for more.


Most total appearances : Pino Wilson, 48

Most appearances Serie B: Wilson, 38

Top goal scorer overall: Giorgio Chinaglia, 26

Top goal scorer Serie B: Chinaglia, 21

Most substituted player overall: Giuliano Fortunato, Giambattista Moschino, Chinaglia, 6

Most substituted player Serie B: Moschino, 6

Most sub ins overall: Rino Gritti, 13

Most sub ins Serie B: Gritti, 11

Most booked player overall: Gigi Martini, 9

Most booked player Serie B: Martini 8

 

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