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  • Writer's pictureLazio Stories

1988-89 Overview

The previous season Lazio had finally managed to get promoted to Serie A after three very difficult years. The first one marred by financial difficulties, the second by an unfair  and unjustified 9 point docking but the third had been triumphant even if it was not a clean sail.

Before the season could even begin there was drama. President Gian Marco Calleri fell out with manager Eugenio Fascetti over the transfer of Paolo Monelli, who had been top scorer for Lazio in Serie B, to Bari. As a consequence Fascetti was sacked and in came Giuseppe Materazzi. Materazzi had been surprisingly called to Pisa the previous year after Gigi Simoni had taken the Tuscans up to Serie A. Pisa managed to stay in the top tier and Materazzi moved to Rome.

Lazio had signed a number of players, the main ones being foreigners Ruben Sosa, Gustavo Dezotti and Nelson Guttiérez. There was great enthusiasm as the fans could not wait to finally play in Serie A.

The Campionato started late due to the Seoul Olympic Games. The Coppa Italia was therefore organised with two group phases before the start of Serie A to cover September.

The first phase had 8 groups with 6 teams each and was played from the end of August until the beginning of September. The top three teams from each group qualified for the next group phase. Lazio were paired with Milan, Pescara, Messina, Campobasso and Licata. In the first game at Pescara they lost 2-1 despite going ahead early with Dezotti. They then won three: Licata 3-0, Campobasso 2-0 and 4-3 at Messina. The last game, with the Biancocelesti already qualified, was lost 2-1 in Milan.

For the second phase the teams were put into six groups. Those who won theirs went to the quarter finals plus the two best second placed teams. Lazio had to play against Fiorentina, Inter and Udinese. They won the first game against Fiorentina 1-0 with a Dezotti goal and drew their second with Inter 1-1 with the Argentinian again the scorer. Coming into the final match Lazio had 3 points, Fiorentina and Inter 2, Udinese 1. Fiorentina won in Milan and Lazio at Udine so they both went through. A very good result for the Biancocelesti.

The good performances continued in Serie A which started on October 9. In the first five games Lazio drew five times including two disappointing performances at home against Torino and Como (both 1-1) but two good draws against Milan and Napoli away. In game six the Biancocelesti finally won their first Serie A game since 1984, beating Verona 3-1. But in the next six matches Lazio lost three and drew three. Before the derby they were ninth but were closer to the relegation zone, only two points away, than the top.

On January 15 there was the derby. Lazio had not won one since 1979 (but in the meantime only six had been played) and Roma were clear favourites. But the Biancocelesti managed to win with a goal from young Paolo Di Canio. Lazio finished the first half of the season tenth, but it was very close at the bottom, with ten teams in four points.

After the derby win, it took the Biancocelesti 14 games to win again and in the meantime they collected 9 draws (seven for 0-0) and five defeats. They were 13th, one point clear of relegation. They had also been knocked out of the Coppa Italia losing 4-3 on aggregate to Atalanta in the quarter finals. Too many draws and too many difficulties in scoring. After the Coppa Italia exploit, Dezotti had run dry and Antonio Rizzolo after Verona had no longer scored. Ruben Sosa was doing the best he could but not having a valid partner in attack was creating problems. If only they had kept Monelli …

Fortunately Lazio then won two consecutive games and drew the derby so with four games to go they had a two point cushion over the relegation zone. But then the Biancocelesti lost to Juventus and Inter and with two games to the end of the season the table at the bottom read: Verona, Ascoli, Lecce and Bologna 28 points, Cesena 27, Lazio 26, Torino and Pescara 25. Como on 22 and Pisa on 21 were virtually relegated.

In the penultimate game the Biancocelesti managed to beat Sampdoria so all that was needed in the final match of the season at Ascoli was a draw. The Bianconeri also needed a point, so as a consequence the two teams passed the ball around for 90 minutes and Lazio secured a place in Serie A.

But it had been difficult. Lazio only won five games, drew 19 matches (11 for 0-0) and lost 10. Dezotti and Guttièrez had been a disappointment, the good news was that Ruben Sosa could certainly play football and the youth team had produced a champion: Paolo Di Canio.

But a lot more quality was needed if the Biancocelesti wanted to do something better than just fight to avoid relegation.

Most appearances overall: Ruben Sosa, 43

Most appearances Serie A: Ruben Sosa, 32

Top goal scorer overall: Ruben Sosa, 12

Top goal scorer Serie A: Ruben Sosa, 8

Most assists overall: Ruben Sosa, 10

Most assists Serie A: Ruben Sosa, 6

Most substituted player overall: Ruben Sosa, 12

Most substituted player Serie A: Gustavo Dezotti, 8

Most sub ins overall: Antonio Rizzolo, 18

Most sub ins Serie A: Rizzolo, 15

Most booked player overall: Angelo Gregucci, 12

Most booked player Serie A: Gregucci, 10


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